Integrated Marketing Campaigns Put it all Together
By Doug Luciani, Chief Associate, PRofit from PR - Public Relations & Marketing
There was once a time where a company could develop a product, advertise the product in newspapers, on television and on the radio, and build a successful brand worth millions and perhaps billions of dollars. Proctor and Gamble followed that strategy for decades. However, today's consumer is not as easily swayed by a clever jingle or celebrity spokesperson.
Today, consumers respond to a dialogue. Businesses can't simply speak at their audience, but instead must establish a relationship, positive interactions, and honest communications. In order to accomplish this, businesses in any industry, including hospitality, need to implement and execute integrated marketing campaigns.
Visit Florida, the Sunshine State's official tourism promotion corporation, conducted a survey to determine what most influenced people to plan a Florida vacation. Advertising finished a distance fifth behind word of mouth, their official web site, travel articles (public relations), general travel web sites, and even specific hotels and resorts. Advertising only finished slightly ahead of travel agents and timeshares.
While the impact of advertising may be diminishing, it still plays a role in developing business. But, it simply can't be the only tool you pull out of your marketing toolbox, or even the lead tool. Integrated marketing campaigns are led by a combination of public relations efforts, promotions, e-marketing, advertising, and even the service you deliver to guests.
One of the keys to a successful integrated marketing campaign is that it must create an experience for the consumer. Don't simply tell the consumer your resort has a spa. Your marketing efforts should be developed in a way that the consumer actually experiences the spa before they've even checked in.
More and more, integrated marketing campaigns find public relations taking the lead because PR has always been about relationships with multiple audiences. PR is evolving into content development that helps a business create experiential marketing concepts for consumers. Sharing your story with the press through media relations helps to create a third-party endorsement of your property.
The PR tool box now has new tools thanks to new technologies such as blogs and podcasts. Blogs are increasingly becoming mainstream. These online personal diaries provide commentaries on a variety of topics including current events, daily life activities, even a stay at your hotel. Increasingly many businesses are developing their own blogs to share information on product developments, new services or corporate news. Honest communications that connect with Web visitors can encourage them to visit your hotel.
Do you know what the blogosphere is saying about your property? You should. It can impact your bottom line. While keeping tabs on what was being said about a past client, we learned from blog postings about guests who booked short stays stays or didn't come at all because of the influence of comments on blogs or other sites, such as Trip Advisor.
The advent of Ipods and other MP3 players has led to the development of the Podcast and Video Podcast. Podcasting is the distribution of multimedia files, such as audio programs or videos, over the Internet for playback on either mobile devices or personal computers. In fact, most podcasts are played on a computer and never actually make it to the MP3 player. Visitors to a site can subscribe to the feed and get the updates delivered to their computer.
Consumer promotions are another excellent tool in an integrated marketing campaign. Promotions involve no exchange of cash; instead a business simply provides its product on an in-kind basis for media exposure. An example would be a hotel providing a two-night stay to a radio station in a key origin market. The station then gives the certificate away to a listener as part of an on-air contest. These opportunities exist with broadcast outlets, retailers, charity events and more.
Do you have an opt-in email database or addresses, both email and street, of past guests? A printed or e-newsletter is an excellent opportunity to communicate your message and start a dialogue by providing valuable information to your intended audience, such as new packages, amenities or other updates.
In today's world, the internet puts information at everyone's finger tips. That includes bad news and negative information. Because of this, crisis communications planning is another key to a successful integrated marketing campaign. Hotels are extremely susceptible to negative news. Food poison stories and stories about crime against guests often make the headlines. Some stories are completely out of the control of a hotel, such as hurricanes, floods or wild fires. Other stories are investigative reports that media outlets may do to expose flaws like unsanitary practices or unsafe furniture, such as defective cribs. It doesn't matter if they actually find something, perception can often become reality.
It is important to be ready to handle the crisis communications surrounding these types of stories. If handled poorly, a negative story can be devastating to a hotel's reputation and bottom line. An effective response can help minimize this.
Let us not forget about advertising. While the effectiveness of advertising is dwindling, especially with younger audiences, it still has its place and still plays a valuable role in an integrated campaign. However, it's not going to be the lynch pin to any campaign.
All of these tools are available and can be beneficial in an integrated marketing campaign. PR is evolving into content development that helps create experiential marketing concepts for consumers. Marketing is moving beyond talking at the consumer. Tactics must be implemented that interact with the consumer. A Web site is a great informational tool, but if a consumer only visits once, never to return, its impact is minimal. Imagine a site with updated content from a blog, a site with new podcasts, a site that creates a virtual experience for consumers to return multiple times, learning more about what you have to offer and building a loyalty to your hotel.
Doug Luciani leads PRofit from PR, focusing on media relations, marketing communications, e-marketing strategies and media training. PRofit from PR's clients span the U.S. and feature technology, healthcare, security, real estate and corporate training. Mr.Luciani also serves as VP of PR for Dickinson & Associates, and Chief Communications Officer for Florida Vacation Auction. A graduate of the University of Florida, he is a member of the Florida Public Relations Association, the Public Relations Society of America and several regional business development organizations. Mr. Luciani can be contacted at 407-719-6102 or firstname.lastname@example.org Extended Bio...
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