Our “Digital Marketing Health Check” for Visitor Economy Businesses
If you run a business in or associated with the visitor economy in Lincolnshire, you need to make sure the ever-popular Lincolnshire Wolds Tourism Conference is firmly in your diary. This year’s event was hosted by the Retail Champion, Clare Bailey, who guided us through a packed schedule, of which I was delighted to be a part.
My team was fortunate to be given the opportunity to partner with Love Lincs Wolds a couple of years ago, lending our considerable experience and creativity to their digital marketing, so it was fantastic to be invited to be part of their expert panel at the Conference. Whilst I was the representative of Knapton Wright on the day, the whole team contributed to the Digital Marketing Health Check I was asked to deliver. If you missed it, or would like to get some insight into the very simple hints and tips we provided, please read on!
Collaboration across the nation/region!
Clare spoke passionately about the importance of collaboration both as a key part of marketing and as part of running a successful retail and visitor economy business. Given that seeking and developing collaborative relationships is something we do day in, day out, as much for clients as we do for our own business, I felt that some of our tips had been teed up nicely! I approached my five-minute talk as a marketer, a huge fan of my adopted home county of Lincolnshire, a director of Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre, and as the husband of someone who runs a self-catering accommodation business, The Old Granary - but she couldn’t be there as she was wearing her farming hat as part of and was representing the county on an NFU horticulture board. I did, of course, lean on Louise and her sister, Clare, for insight into what to talk about.
How has marketing changed in 2022?
Marketing has changed a huge amount in the past 15 years, most notably since social media took hold and with it came the perception of marketing being easier to do yourself. I could write for pages about this, but now isn’t the time! Marketing and communications are as broad as they are long and tactically are always changing; however, the strategy doesn’t really change: it’s about helping people understand who you are, what you do, for whom you do it, and why. When customers/guests/clients understand that, it’s far easier for them to buy from you.
Top ten (eleven!) tips for making the most of your marketing
Here are our top ten tips, it’s a bit like the Generation Game but we won’t ask you to remember them at the end and there isn’t a cuddly toy (sorry).
- Put yourself at the heart of your content: people buy people, so even though you’re promoting a business, make it about the people who are running it/involved in it. And never refer to your business in the third person, please!
- Consistency is very important: work out what matters about your business, and make sure those two or three points run through the heart of your marketing and communications. The more often people hear or see the core message(s) you share, the better they understand what you do.
- Create a one or two line marketing strategy. This will help you make quick decisions about marketing, for example: whether to attend an event, put an ad in a publication, sponsor a local initiative or even put a post on social media.
- Build your castle: make sure everyone in your local area knows who you are and what you do; they won’t necessarily be your customers/guests/clients, but by making it easier for them to promote you to their friends and family, they’re doing your job for you.
- Operate in campaigns: it makes it easier to plan and makes you stand out as a business because you have clear messages to share and, more often than not, a defined purpose. Destination Lincolnshire spoke about this in more detail after my slot - if I can get hold of their slides, I’ll add them to this article.
- Create once, publish everywhere (COPE): this doesn’t mean I’m advocating putting the same message on all channels, rather I mean write great copy for your website then chop it up into smaller pieces for other marketing channels. It saves time, keeps the message consistent and helps with consistency.
- Sell, but not all the time. Promoting your business in a style that matches the experience people receive when they’re with you or using your service, is one of the best ways of delivering sales messages. I know we’re all based in England, but we need to be less “English” about selling!
- Know your target market: who are they, where do they “hang out” online and offline, where do you want them to go, what do you want them to do, what do they respond to?
- Reels and stories are so important on social media now - in a day or two, you’ll find a how to guide here
- Get into the local/regional press: write the articles for the journalists and provide great imagery, they’ll love you for it and you’ll get lots of lovely coverage for your business.
- Enter awards! This isn’t solely a plug for the Destination Lincolnshire Tourism Awards, as there are plenty of local, regional and national awards that you can apply for. They generally give you great exposure, something extra to talk about and, if you win, you can call yourself “award-winning”, which customers love!
Two key marketing takeaways
I was asked to provide two main messages that delegates could take away and apply that very day! The below are what we consider to be the most important things to think about in the world of marketing for SMEs in the visitor economy sector, and many other sectors for that matter. We like to keep things simple
- Continuing with advertising in a recession is vitally important. It has long term and short term impacts. It’s a great opportunity for your business to increase your share of voice and remain top of mind when competitors may be cutting back on spend. This doesn’t mean you have to spend lots of money, but you do need to spend time thinking about it and be creative about how you continue to advertise.
- Focus on your owned media is your most precious marketing asset. Owned media are things you create or curate like email marketing, printed materials, blog posts, even your website. You own it and you control it, so you aren’t at the whim of a billionaire who’s distracted by other things (Zuckerberg/Metaverse) or who doesn’t seem to know what they’re doing (Musk/Twitter).