One of the most common complaints I hear from home-based agents is that their marketing isn’t working and they don’t know why! Most new home-based agents are skeptical at best when I explain to them how changing their marketing approach can actually make clients come to them.
They definitely don't believe me when I tell them marketing can be easy, fun and not always going to break the bank. But it all changes when their phone starts ringing off the hook and new business starts rolling in.
So why isn’t your marketing working? Chances are before you started your own travel business you had a fair share of experience working for a larger company, which probably used many of the "traditional" marketing approaches like fancy brochures, big ads, Sales Force and cold-calling on potential clients—just to name a few. You probably thought the way to go was to do what they were doing, only to discover that this approach costs a small fortune and doesn't generate nearly the type of response you need to stay in business.
Fortunately, there are better ways to attract new travel clients. These marketing methods also don't require spending hours on networking events, cold-calling on strangers, and arm-wrestling so-so prospects into making a buying a decision. So how does this work?
Your number one best, and least expensive, form of advertising is your business card. Pull out your card now and take a look. What does it really say about you and the business you want? Does it look professional or is it one of those cheap cookie cutter looking cards? Does your title say “travel agent” or “personal luxury travel consultant”? I suggest that you change your title from travel agent to reflect the kind of business you want to attract, such as “cruise and vacation specialist.” I’m looking at a card that was given to me at a recent conference that says “your family celebration specialist.” Perfect!
Get the best quality business cards that your budget can afford. A $100 will buy 1,000 cards, which equals to 10 cents each for easy, effective and inexpensive marketing. Always carry them with you and give them out freely. It’s important to understand that you sell a product that 90 percent of the population wants—travel! You must get into the mindset that “every” person you meet is a potential new client.
Create a professional brochure that captures who you are and what you can offer travel clients that is different from anyone else, especially the online agencies. In a brochure you will have much more space than on a business card to really lay out your personality and your business model. If you have Microsoft Office you can easily find many templates. Just go to: file, new, and then click on “brochure and booklet” templates. These are free and easy to use!
There are many printing companies, and some can be quite expensive. I have found that at www.gotprint.com it is easy to upload your brochure, business card or most printed material. Their toll-free support number has always been very helpful in recommending the correct paper quality and thickness for my projects. I just recently ordered 1,000 double-sided, high quality, four-color brochures for approximately $100.00 plus shipping and taxes.
Quality but not expensive materials like these help further establish your credibility and with developing new relationships. And while it's exciting to see all that great stuff about you written in a neat brochure, don’t forget to add a sentence or paragraph addressing one of the big problems you know your current and potential travel clients struggle with. To continue with the example of a management consultant it could be something like "Online agencies? Who are you going to call on a Sunday night when something goes wrong on your trip? My clients are my priority and I’m available to assist whenever needed”
If you have a newsletter or blog, keep the content geared towards helpful travel tips and ideas. Shift from a “traditional” sales-focused approach to marketing into something often referred to as education-based or attraction marketing. You showcase a professional image and then you create a need for your services because you are the expert.
The bottom line is to stop viewing your marketing as a way to “get” people to buy from you, and instead explore how your promotions could actually “help” potential clients solve some of their biggest problems.
Promoting yourself will become a natural extension of what you already love doing – which is helping your clients solve their problems - you will enjoy spending more time and effort working on marketing your business.