3 Content Marketing Principles for Hospitality and Tourism
An introduction to content marketing fundamentals for managers of small businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry wanting to initiate a concerted content strategy, or improve your current efforts.
Content Marketing is…
First and foremost, content marketing is a vital approach that must be utilised effectively in order to primarily communicate “what you stand for”, opposed to “what you sell”. To this extent, effective content marketing is about strategising what makes your offering unique, what features and amenities set you apart, then creating content that showcases these features, and amplifying that content through a variety of channels, from the website to social media channels— all while telling a consistent and compelling story. Which brings us to the first principle...
Principle #1— Tell your story.
Telling a story is central to any content marketing strategy, however equally vital is the need for this story to be targeted effectively and delivered to the right people, at the right time and through the right channels. Think of content as the chapters of a story, and content marketing as your entire story packaged together in a coherent and compelling manner. All individual content pieces (every photo, video, post, tweet, pin etc.) must be strategically placed to convey and communicate your story to your customers, establishing a real connection, in order to achieve your business objectives.
Principle #2— Set business objectives.
In the midst of all of the online clutter and social saturation, today’s holiday shopper simply wants to explore their options to understand the value that you’re offering. Content should have a strict focus on your value proposition, as well as concentrating on relevance and consistency in order to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and drive profitable customer action.
You must have a clear understanding of your audience and your value proposition, then hone, target and communicate your message effectively in order to meet clearly defined short-, medium- and long-term objectives. Without clear objectives, you risk losing consistency, clarity and (importantly) customers.
Principle #3— Provide knowledge and resources.
If you refer back to CMI’s definition of content marketing, this point is crucial. Your content marketing must focus on creating an ecosystem in which customers are better engaged throughout all phases of the consumption journey and at all touch points of the customer experience. Within your content ecosystems, all individual components should aim to enhance each other; integrating on- and off- property events; social media, website, blog and mobile platforms; user-generated content; and a range of content formats (video, images, articles and more). Through this position of knowledge-giver, the customer relationship is driven forward.
Your content marketing approach should provide prospective guests the resources to learn about your property— its characteristics, its place within the community, what you stand for and what experiences will be like. When this valuable information is shared with customers, they will endear themselves to you, because you’ve given them something that makes them feel good about their decision to stay with you.
Time for Action...
In using these three principles in order to determine the ‘what?’ and ‘how?’ of your content plan it is important to first consider the unique attributes of your business, it’s ethos and mission statement, then tie this strongly into your strategy. Additionally, you must understand that content marketing is not a “create it and leave it” project, but a living component of your overall marketing strategy and should stay current, relevant, adaptive and responsive.
Secondly, an effective content marketing strategy must be strongly coupled with achievable business objectives; grounded in your key differentiators and unique value proposition. A likely challenge you'll face lies in the planning of a content strategy that effectively communicates all of your organisation’s separate departments and services, and targets their respective customer segments, while still tying in to the central narrative and objectives coherently and compellingly. Therefore, before designing a content plan, their must be firm understanding of what you are trying to achieve and how this will be measured, and then resources allocated strategically.
The approach you undertake in achieving this depends on your own business context, available resources and competitive environment. However, general suggestions I would make for any small businesses wanting to improve their content strategy would include:
- Compose and operate a content marketing calendar in order to help you post regularly, ensuring that the content is well planned, interesting, and that major events (business, social and cultural) aren’t missed. However, allow the aim to be quality, not quantity (customers are already drowning in mediocre content, so don’t add to the flood). Embrace a state of mediated chaos and remain flexible.
- Blog more. It's time consuming and inspiration can sometimes be lacking, however marketers who prioritise blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI than their counterparts.
- Set guidelines for content, encourage staff to be active in the creation of content and set up a system for easily proposing new ideas internally.
- Promote user-generated content; creating material and processes to encourage guests to share their experiences; expressing and illustrating their real-world experiences in a sharable format.
- Build a knowledge-bank of information on local services, businesses and ‘hidden gems’, including possible cross-promotion with local businesses to establish role as a knowledge-giver with customers; building trust and affinity. Knowledge isn’t power; sharing knowledge is.
- Curate meaningful content, but aim to avoid adding to the media noise and clutter; focus must always be paid to your own unique attributes, your offering and the delivery of value.
- Strategically select local filmmakers, photographers, bloggers and content creators, build collaborative partnerships and embrace their role as “influencers” (ref. Marriott Influencer Program).
- Don’t neglect PR, especially if you’re in the luxury sector! Ensure that generation of “Expert” content is not forgotten from your content strategy, simply due to the strong empirical evidence that supports credible, third-party content’s effectiveness for driving customer purchase intent.
Focussing on improving your content strategy is vital for customer attraction and retention; through the delivery of valuable— quality— content, SEO will also be driven forward via social signals and gaining SERP priority.
A content strategy is not an added, fluffy extra to be used simply to supplement other communications, but a core component of your marketing efforts which will power everything else forward with it.