In the world of customer service and marketing, who’s Number One?
I’ll give you a hint… it’s not you.
You’ve got a killer marketing opportunity: A free ad in the community paper, an opportunity to include a free flyer at the local mall, or someone’s loaned you their database for a once-off mailshot.
It’s time to pick the perfect product to market. Of course, you’ve just been to Paris and you really loved it so without blinking you put together the perfect Paris package, print 5 000 flyers and wait for the phones to ring.
Have you stopped to ask yourself: “Am I giving my customers what they want? Or what I like and want?”
Resist the urge to impose your values, beliefs and preferences on your customer and define clearly who they are, and what makes them tick before making any marketing or sales decision.
Clearly profiling your existing and prospective customers is one of the keys to ensuring you truly resonate with your customers prompting to buy from someone who knows them, someone they trust.
The better you hit that bullseye, the more meaningful the message and with that a loyalty that you would not necessarily have cultivated with a shotgun marketing approach.
Here are some handy tips on how to profile them:
Demographics: Age, gender, race, income, education, family status
Geography: Residence, work location, recreation area
Behaviour: Planner, impulse buyer, frequency of holiday, date of travel, where they source information
Attitude: Likes, dislikes, interests, preferences, values, most pressing needs, preferred contact medium
Cluster those individuals who share a common need your travel company can satisfy. What does their attitude tell you about the services you need to provide? What does their behavior tell you about the type of marketing they need?
Then tailor your pitch to meet their needs. Remember it’s not important what you want and what you think they will respond to. Getting them to trust you means they have to be sure you understand what they need (not what you need) and deliver on it!
That’s the secret of being a 21st century travel agent…
Break open the champagne! 2015 appears to have sparked a veritable revival. Not that of the travel agent profession (you and I both know that we weren’t going anywhere). Rather, that of telling the world why we exist and why they should entrust their travel in the safe hands of a travel expert.
The media and social media sphere has been flooded with articles and comments on the benefits of using a travel agent these past three weeks of a new year. There’s a surge of interest in what was once touted by many as a dying profession.
A regular supporter of travel agents, posting frequently about the merits of using a travel agent, Huffington Post kicked off its new year giving its readers six excellent reasons to book a trip with a travel agent.
Cruise Currents then got in on the act writing why readers should use a travel agent to book their next cruise.
And Fox News reposted its 10 reasons why you should use a travel agent explaining that they have clout, are on the cutting edge and, guess what, you pay the same anyway!
The travel community has also hopped on the social media bandwagon highlighting their important role in travel.
We especially liked this Tweet by @NTMtravel42 which actually took the time to create and share a video about what it can do for travellers and US-based My Times Travel’s blog post on why travellers should use a travel agent followed by a barrage of testimonials to back her argument up.
For those of you bemoaning a slow start to 2015, sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns and remind your customers why you add value to them. It takes very little effort to follow our international colleagues’ suit and take every opportunity to share the benefits of using a travel agent, highlighting your expertise and how you’ve evolved to meet their travel needs.
Why not write a blog post and share it like My Times Travel has. Speak to your local paper about including a short article about the travel agent profession or simply log in to the Members Section on ASATA’s website and visit our Marketing Toolkit to download one of the quirky banners or social media posts for use on your Twitter or Facebook. Yes, it really is that simple!
Here are five tips to create the best looking LinkedIn profile on the web.
1. Make Your Personal Brand Stand Out
You want to use the profile to make your own personal brand stand out. This instantly catches the eye of viewers and will make them want to learn much more about you. Your current employment is going to do this for you. If you are employed by a company, you have little control over your title, but if you are your own boss, think of something that will stand out and tell people exactly what you do.
Move down a little further to the summary. This is another place to create your personal brand. Sell yourself and what you do. What are your skills and why are you so good at your job? This is the only part of your whole profile where you get to design and layout everything. You’ll be stuck with following LinkedIn’s preferences later, so use this space to put your own personality into the content.
2. Make Your Profile Searchable
You need to make sure the content and URL of your profile are searchable by search engines. This is done through keywords. Make sure your URL is your name, so when employers and clients go looking for you, they will find you. Likewise, if you have any keywords, add them into your summary and job title. You will soon find more people come across you and want to know more about you.
3. Highlight The Experience You Have
Whether you’re in a job or are hunting, you need to highlight the experience that you have. LinkedIn is very much like your resume and it needs to show off your skills, qualities and knowledge. However, the benefit of LinkedIn is the searchable aspect and you can play to that benefit. Don’t just leave it to chance that someone will find you. Use keywords in your content to make your job descriptions and work experience stand out.
You can add your samples and work presentations. This is a great way to really show off what you can do and will make your profile stand out from the rest. Slideshare is another option that can be added to your LinkedIn profile. Use it to your advantage. Don’t have anything to show off? Of course you do—just think about the stuff other people ask you for help with!
4. Get Recommendations On Your Page
If someone recommends a product to you, you’re much more likely to buy it. If someone recommends a service, would you be more swayed towards using it over another? Of course you would, and the same works for employment and looking for freelancers. You need recommendations on your page if you want to stand a chance of getting hired.
Talk to previous clients or employers who are on LinkedIn. You just need to politely ask that they write a recommendation on your page. Get them to tell others why you should be hired. One great way to get recommendations is by recommending others first. You’d be surprised how many people will feel compelled to reciprocate the favor.
5. Stay Active, Interactive And Up To Date
Activity is essential on LinkedIn. You need to make sure your profile is constantly up to date. Make sure the title is the best one for you and keep your skill sets showing the best ones right now. You want to interact through the website, too. The more you interact, the more people are going to see your amazing profile. This will also help people realize that you are a person and good for the job.
Set your own group up and get active. This will allow you to set it up for your specific interest and help run it in the way that you see fit. It will also show up on your profile, so others know that you run a LinkedIn group and that you have the ability to manage.
Get that LinkedIn profile up to date and start making it stand out. Personality and flair will really help turn your profile from a boring resume into a stunning piece of work. Improve your SEO and update your skill sets and you will be ready the next time an employer comes knocking.
As excellent as social media and review sites can be to get your brand out there, they are just as effective, and speedy, at damaging it.
Sticking your head in the sand will certainly not make negative publicity go away. Customer-facing organisations like banks and retail chains pay thousands to maintain a positive brand reputation. It takes loads of listening, constant engagement and proactive communication to get it right.
In a world where travellers go online to check the reputation and status of companies with which they’d like to do business, it is essential that you paint a positive brand picture and encourage those who do business with you to do the same so that when a customer finds you online, they feel overwhelmingly positive about the prospect of having you assist with their travel arrangements.
And are 5 handy tips to polishing your online persona, without spending a fortune:
- Are they talking about you? What are they saying? Assess what the current perception is of your brand. What online channels are your customers using to talk about you? Hello Peter? Facebook? TripAdvisor? What are they consistently saying? You can use tools like Social Mention <link to www.socialmention.com/>and Google Alerts <https://www.google.com/alerts>and Hootsuite <https://hootsuite.com> to monitor any mentions that are made about your company.
- Is their perception accurate?
Are the perceptions accurate? If customers continuously slate your brand for poor customer service, perhaps they have a point? No amount of damage control is going to work if the fundamental issues your customers are complaining about are not fixed. Appoint a task team comprising staff from all areas within your organisation, e.g. to identify what these are, how to fix them, and who will be responsible for what? This team should meet weekly to ensure concrete steps are being taken to solve the issues.
- Listen, learn and engage.
Monitor conversations and respond quickly to concerns raised. Your messages should be empathetic, not robotic, with a genuine tone of ‘wanting to assist’. That said, a quick, brief reply is better than a late reply with lots of information, or no reply at all. Consistency is key. Monitoring and engagement should happen continuously, not as a once off when you start your image management initiative. Learn from your mistakes, give feedback to the ‘offending’ parties that have caused the criticism. Engage with the customer till the situation is as resolved as it can be.
- Your online business card
Treat every online brand presence as your business card: Google’s search results can be influenced by brilliant Search Engine Optimisation so ensure your meta-descriptions, keywords, etc. are well selected and written; Ensure that happy customers post positive reviews on Facebook and Hello Peter; Generate positive PR about what you do and why you can be trusted; Position yourself as an expert in your niche by creating and distributing online useful, engaging and informative content about what you do to enhance your credibility, e.g. honeymoon specialists providing content on tips for romantic breakaways.
- Repeat and referral rocks
Have a clear repeat and referral strategy that encourages ‘happy’ customers to proactively talk about their experience with friends and family. Ask for a referral or review on Hello Peter or Facebook, proactively ask for feedback on how you can improve their experience. And once you have the referral or review, thank them for giving it.
Remember it’s a journey not a destination, but as long as you keep listening, engaging and improving your positive reputation will make you famous.