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Developing the right approach to marketing will help you create relevant digital content for your tourism business and build customer loyalty.

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Mike Brooke, head of marketing and strategy at Made Brave and Laura Adamson marketing manager at the Scottish Seabird Centre talk to Julia Sutherland about how to develop the right approach to marketing so you can create relevant and engaging digital content to market your tourism business. 

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Finding your voice

Think about your brand as a personality: who you are, what matters to you and what you sound like. 

It can be challenging to decide exactly how you should sound when you create online content, but there are a few key principles which Mike and Laura suggest as the best way to build your personality. First and foremost, people expect you to be a human being. 

Mike says, “If you're a small business, then in a way, it's easy. You can just be yourself. You can promote who you actually are online and you can have some fun doing that. Most businesses have to make some definite decisions about the best way to do it.” 

At Made Brave there's a detailed process that the company uses to help businesses explore their brand personality, and express it in all of their marketing.

Laura describes the personality of the Scottish Seabird Centre: “We're fun, and very visual. It’s all about everyone having a good day out, but we are also knowledgeable – so basically our personality is a mix of the fun and the knowledge.”

Who is your audience?

Another key element for all marketing is to understand your audience. Mike and Laura agree that you will adapt your tone depending on who you are talking to, but you should still always sound like you. 

Understanding your online audience also means understanding the customer journey. You need to understand who comes to your website and why, so that you can create the right content. Are your readers at the dreaming stage or the detail planning stage?

Mike says, “Knowing the audience is absolutely critical. It really matters to understand the target markets and segment as appropriate. Personas can be a really helpful way of doing this. We try and understand our customers, how they behave on social media. It depends on how mature your business is how far you go with this. But anything that you can do to help you understand who your customers are will help you.”

Laura comments that different channels can be used to connect with different audiences. Talking about social media she says, “All the social media channels are good for reaching people, but they are all slightly different. We engage with bloggers and photographers on Instagram, whereas Twitter for us is much more about people who are into wildlife. There's a steadiness in our voice, but we do adapt depending on who we're speaking to.”

Email and marketing automation

Laura and Mike move on to talking about some of the tactics and channels they use to connect with their audiences. Although social media often gets airtime, email continues to be very important as a way of connecting with people.

Laura comments, “We do about one email a month. We try not to do too many. There's a bit of a trend for over-personalisation, so we avoid that. We try and send people relevant information about what’s going on at the centre, and use the email to push them through to the website for more information.”

Figuring out the right frequency is important. There needs to be a good reason to get in touch and interesting relevant content, but people don’t want to be bombarded.

Top tips for building loyalty

Creating long-term relationships is something that most businesses aim for. A few of the top tips for building loyalty from Mike and Laura are:

  • Deliver great customer service
  • Deliver an outstanding experience
  • Use membership schemes
  • Create great content
  • Write blog content that you are passionate about
  • Write content that you know will be interesting and relevant to your audience
  • Use customer generated content
  • Talk about the whole area – engage people’s interest
  • Create reasons to stay in touch - have relevant content that is not a hard-sell
  • Take customer reviews seriously and always respond to bad reviews - some people will judge you based on how you respond, more than on the negative comments
  • Respond to positive reviews too – they can help you create good content

Creating ambassadors

Getting local people involved as your ambassadors is hugely effective. This means building relationships online and offline, with local businesses and with local people, involving volunteers.

Mike says, “It’s the people thing again. As people, you surround yourselves with people that you like. With business it’s the same. Surrounding yourself with other businesses that are connected can mean that you all help each other to cross-sell.” 

Laura’s approach: “It’s key for us to promote North Berwick as a destination, not just the Seabird Centre, so across all our social media channels we will talk about other businesses.”

Working with influencers

Online influencers such as bloggers and Instagrammers can be great people to have involved in helping to create good content. Laura says it is useful to think about these people as you would the press. These are the people who can write independent content about your area or your business that might persuade others to come. 

The moment of truth is the point that someone makes a decision about what they are actually going to do. Mike says, “The last time I went to Amsterdam I didn’t look at any tour guides. I went onto Instagram, I looked at hashtags, found someone taking pictures that appealed to me. I sent him a message and he sent me an itinerary.” 

This is how people are using social media today to make decisions. By working with influencers and encouraging them to come and experience what’s available you can get your business talked about online.

Get support for your tourism business

Find out more about how we can help you make the most of digital technology:

Digital Tourism Scotland

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