The autumn plan: Organic marketing

Summer is nearly over, sadly, which means it’s almost time to move full speed ahead on holiday season planning and next year’s marketing strategy.

Ask yourself the question: are you and your company going “organic”? Food, farming, growth, SEO, organizations and now marketing — everything is organic, and applying the concept to hotel marketing is an excellent reframing tool. But talk about a buzzword that’s breaching on overuse with its real definition slipping between the cracks. Let’s start at the beginning.

Organic pertains to something involving an organism. That’s the obvious part. So, what’s an organism, and how does it apply to business terms? Without getting too heavy on the science, an organism is a cluster of molecules that work together for self-preservation, growth and reproduction, all while responding to the environment and maintaining homeostasis.

It’s the latter part where organic marketing takes its cue. Homeostasis is hybridized Greek for describing dynamic equilibrium, which — for those sans mathematics, chemistry or economics college credits — is a fanciful word for active balance. The environment veers left, the organism adapts left and continues to grow. The environment veers right, the organism adapts again, always striving for stability ad infinitum. Effective marketing needs vision, but it also needs day-to-day flexibility.

Start by applying this equilibrium model to the rapidity of modern times. Does it really make sense that marketing plans are formed on a yearly basis? Yes and no. The “no” is the easy part. It’s fast times at hotel high. With so much happening and social media leading the way towards a faster future, oftentimes plans can’t wait until next year for execution.

The attitude behind organic marketing is one of knowledge, acceptance and fluidity. Knowledge in that you are keeping pace with all the new research, resources and channels that will help you reach consumers. Acceptance coming from the belief that such knowledge will improve your capacity as a manager and that all the new research, resources and channels will actually help. And, easiest of all, fluidity is the opposite of rigidity — going with the flow of the times, doing your best to stay up-to-the-minute and anticipating customer trends.

The marketing plan is no longer a document carved in stone. It needs a clear direction but also contingencies in case the world decides to spin in another direction. The best way to achieve this is through brevity. Writing your marketing plan as 150 pages of canon leaves no room to breathe, no room to be organic. Instead, make it a quick, friendly read.

Understanding this “no” segment might make for some headaches, but hold the aspirin, because the “yes” portion is still a much needed capsule of fun. Yearly marketing plans should be all about strategy — where you see your department or the whole property in one, two, five and 10 years. The focus should be branding and the very essence of what currently makes your hotel great and what you aspire to be. An annual marketing plan is brief and broad, leaving the day-to-day tactics to the manager’s discretion and best judgment — organic, as they say.

The biggest changes are often identified by a single, punctuated event or plan, but never forget the minutia of each contributing task. That’s where organic marketers find their groove. They have the tenacity to shift gears at will and improvise away from predefined tactics while still moving towards the big fish.

Yes, that last statement was a tad oxymoronic, but isn’t all marketing to some degree? Think about what organic marketing means, and when it comes time to execute the marketing plan, you’ll be more ready than you’ve ever been.