“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is an old Yiddish saying that translates to “Man plans and God Laughs“. No matter how carefully we try to predict the future, we’re often pleasantly surprised or utterly disappointed. Few places are more evident than in following a marketing strategy.
First, let’s go over what I mean when I talk about marketing strategy vs. a marketing plan. Your strategy is the big vision and it usually spans at least a year or two, and it’s made of a bunch of smaller plans. For instance, the strategy may include audience growth, increased market share, etc. while plans may be focused on a specific channel (social media, PR) or a more limited timeframe (an event or seasonal campaign). Each has its own unique performance indicators and tools and they’re both critical for long-term growth.
So, with that in mind, how has your strategy held up with all of the changes you’ve experienced over the past year? It seems like the world is changing more rapidly and we need to change course every month or two, so perhaps the old practice of waiting at least a year to address the marketing strategy just isn’t adequate anymore?
Ways to Update A Marketing Strategy
1. Update your narrative.
There’s hardly any doubt that the customers you see today are different than those in the past. At the time of this writing, we’re coming out of a summer heavy on road trips and local travel. You’ve undoubtedly seen a greater concentration of local visitors (if you consider those within a three-hour drive “local”). What brought them in? What kept them coming back? Learn from the conversations and experiences you’ve had over these months to update your messaging and content so that you can fan those flames.
For example, most indicators point to a slow recovery in business travel. This will need to be taken into account when looking at your long-term strategy.
As people feel safer venturing further into the world, you’ll get reacquainted with other long-distance travelers. This means you’ll need to…
2. Update all of your customer personas.
As I’ve explained in many webinars and blog posts in the past, your marketing strategy won’t be effective unless you have a deep understanding of your audience. You should have multiple customer personas (at least three) and a customer journey for each. This includes unique messaging, content, social channels, and a schedule to match.
For a lesson in building personas, here’s a section of a previous webinar that walks you through it. Doing this will give you the insight and understanding that’s vital to your marketing strategy.
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3. Re-engage your locals.
Not only have things changed for you, but your residents and local businesses have also been through one hell of a ride. Many may have seen the drop in visitation as a bit of a gift, while many (especially businesses), not so much. If connecting with your market via town halls or surveys has been a challenge, now is the time to get their input before things return to what we’ll take as normal.
I’ve mentioned the concept of creating “community champions” to be the eyes and ears of your community, and many cities and towns – and even restaurants and other venues – have either begun the process or have a pre-existing concept to lean on. That resource helps you stay connected with your community without the need to send out a disruptive and hard-to-promote survey that, honestly, doesn’t tell the true story of what your community is experiencing. In fact, it paints a more negative picture most of the time.
4. Cut the channel fat.
This is a hard one because no one wants to miss an opportunity to be where someone wants to find you. However, the more spread-out your marketing strategy is, the less depth you’ll have in any particular channel. And depth is where you make those connections.
Review your traffic sources, advertising CTR and CPC (click-through rate and cost-per-click, respectively), and – most importantly – cost per interaction. Cut the channels that don’t produce and build a more solid plan for the ones that do.
Change isn’t easy. In fact, many destinations are quick to say “no” to change because they want to see it work for someone else first, often missing the trend and opportunity entirely. Then, they’re quick to say “no” once another destination has done it since they feel that the trend has passed.
Don’t be stuck in “no”. Make the necessary changes often to position your destination for future success.