In my last blog, I addressed what I believe to be three truths in advertising for boutique properties: it’s a necessity, it should build brand equity and it needs to be planned and managed as part of a larger marketing communications program. Further to that last point, here are my recommendations on integrating the various aspects of a sound advertising strategy:
- Brand advertising and promotional advertising should be viewed together rather than separately. To be effective, they must work together to engage target consumers at various stages of their purchase process. Ads dedicated to elevating the perception of a brand’s value, and in turn increasing the price point for the property’s offerings, generally do not include promotional messages designed to drive short-term sales. However, promotional advertising must also be “branded.” This means that the way in which offers and incentives are presented must be consistent with the brand platform. If not, with time they threaten to dilute the brand’s value and diminish the consumer’s willingness to pay a more premium price.
- The hospitality industry today is web-centric, so the advertising must be as well. However, we’ve found that ad programs that integrate various online and offline channels tend to be most effective. I have found that to do this right requires counsel from a seasoned resource who draws on experience and is current on today’s constantly changing digital and interactive environment. It’s hard to do that when you’re busy with the demands of owning and/or operating a boutique hotel or resort.
- Picking the most effective media options (literally thousands of online, print and broadcast choices) for your specific messages is no longer a simple decision — media is consumed at an amazing rate today. People are consuming multiple media simultaneously, and their behavior — as well as the devices they use — is rapidly changing.
- A focused social media strategy is imperative. I have found that social media is a beast with an insatiable appetite. Make sure you have a solid strategy first; then define how to use the various media options tactically. Social media has one foot in public relations and one in advertising. It is often most effective to have your PR firm lead the charge.
- The proliferation of the “Splinternet” makes the job of managing the distribution of advertising messages a real-time necessity. With an almost limitless number of channels for the distribution of messages and the exchange of endorsements and criticism among consumers, the opportunities for smarter marketing and for enrolling consumers as brand ambassadors are both exciting and risky. Experienced counsel is recommended.
- Accountability for advertising spending is easier and more accurate. While real-time metrics are available from all digital channels today, they only provide part of the picture. How to make the connection between the responses generated by advertising and sales/reservations/revenue is an important team effort between advertiser and ad agency. If managed properly, financial efficiencies can be enjoyed during the course of your property’s annual advertising program, and insights can be gained for smarter planning the following year.
Once you have achieved success, stay the course to avoid losing market share to your competition. I would love to hear your thoughts and success stories.