Are hotels still missing the real picture when it comes to content marketing?
For most hotels, content marketing is being treated more like an add on, at best. At worst, it’s approached more like a sales technique. Either way, chances of messing things up are very high when this is how you perceive content marketing.
Why should you care about doing content marketing right?
Whether you realize it or not, consumer behavior has irrevocably shifted. Things will never go back to the way they were. There will never be a time when a guest won’t “search” or “compare” or “review” before making a decision. Therefore, whatever information you do or don’t put out will have a direct impact on how well your brand performs as the Internet continues to mature.
You could invest a ton of money and see very little results if you’re uninformed on how to do things right. But this article isn’t about teaching you what hotel content marketing is or how to do it right. Instead, it’s a quick eye-opener to help you gauge and reflect on your current efforts. Then you’ll know what to do to start fixing things.
Sometimes all we need is a little nudge to help us shift perspective.
I’m hoping this will nudge you in the right direction.
As I work with more and more hospitality brands and executives, I’m realizing there’s a clarity issue to be resolved. It’s becoming a common occurrence during my strategy meetings to have the man or woman on the receiving end of the conversation ask me a question that would only be relevant in traditional marketing.
Will this content plan directly lead to $200,000 more revenue at the end of the year?
Have you been guilty of trying to quantify every digital marketing strategy with direct sales?
The sales funnel and most ‘direct selling’ techniques have become ineffectual. That’s because consumer behavior has radically shifted. It is our job to adjust, and lean into and ride the new waves.
Unfortunately, what most businesses want is to take the easy way out. They want to force the tactics and methods that worked for them back in the day when options were limited and consumers didn’t really have much power, to work in this era of the Internet.
If that’s something you’ve ever entertained, I have some bad news: it won’t work.
You cannot put new wine into old wineskins, and you know that already. It’s great that you recognize content marketing as a powerful and cost-effective way to bring in new bookings and guest flow. But where things start to fall apart is when you treat content marketing and social media marketing like traditional media. If you do, your chances of success become really slim.
Content marketing is a crucial part of attracting and retaining guests. It’s one of the best ways to build brand equity and guest loyalty, so getting it wrong is probably going to be costly. Whether you’re outsourcing your content marketing from a creative agency or doing it in-house, here are a few eye-opening mistakes to avoid if you don’t wish to harm your reputation and revenue.
2 Content Marketing Mistakes To Avoid And How To Fix Them If You’ve Already Been Making Them At Your Hotel
1. Content that is created for the wrong purpose.
The fact that content marketing isn’t part of the fundamental business strategy for most hotels means that these are new waters being navigated. One can easily fall into traps and pitfalls that only hurt your brand image. All you need to do is scroll through Instagram or Linkedin profiles of hotels to see what I mean by this.
Few are creating content that adds meaning to their audience. Content creation isn’t about creating a selling point or content on random topics that your team ‘thinks’ will work. These types of creatives will only frustrate and alienate your audience and potential guests.
The goal of content creation and marketing is to provide valuable information about a topic that your audience cares about. So here is a mindset shift I encourage you to make right now.
Think from the perspective of your ideal audience. What does your ideal guest care about? What does he or she find meaningful?
Content creation and content marketing are for the purpose of serving your audience, not self-promotion.
Many hotels think any content is good content. That couldn’t be further away from the truth.
Here’s how to fix this:
Research what content your audience wants.
Whether you have a fulltime in-house content creator or you are outsourcing to a creative and digital marketing team, you must research your ideal customer’s interest.
Your main goal when investing in content marketing is to deliver better content to the right person at the right time. Each piece of content must have a purpose. Posting content that you think is interesting won’t necessarily draw the same appeal to your customer base.
If you’re a boutique hotel that serves a customer base of individuals who enjoy minimalism, posting about splurging and shopping spree discounts around your hotel likely won’t draw the right kind of audience.
Unfortunately, many hotel marketers think that any content is good content as long as it drives traffic.
While it’s great to have your Instagram post receiving thousands of likes, that won’t drive the right kind of brand equity, loyalty, or conversions that lead to long-term success.
A simple action step to help you better understand your audience interest:
If you already have an audience built within Facebook, start using that data wisely. But if you’re just starting out, here’s a simple hack.
Head over to Facebook Ads Manager and navigate to your “Audience Insights” tab. Make sure to use the “Interests” section. Once there, type in an industry blog that relates to your content or to a competitor that you admire.
Next, open up the “Pages Likes” tab to see what people are engaging with on Facebook. At this point, you should have access to a lot of valuable data. This data helps you see what the people you are interested in care about.
For example, I carried out this test for the United States within Audience Insights against one interest – “boutique hotel” – and I already got a ton of data that shows me top categories of topics, places, and pages people engage with.
The key thing here is to spot trends and topics that seem to generate interest and which also align with your brand image.
Most people won’t do this because it’s a lot easier to just post content and see what gets traction. If you can put in the effort to start with analyzing what people on social media already care about, you can make better decisions on the type of content plan to create, how to distribute it, and whom to target.
By the way, if you’re not a fan of Facebook analytics, that’s okay. You can use Google or even tools like EpicBeat.
2. Content that is published for the sake of having more volume.
More is not always better. In fact, your ideal content marketing strategy might be best downsized depending on your specific needs and audience. I think you can agree with me that a boutique luxury hotel has different needs and objectives than a bed and breakfast.
Therefore, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all.’ Just because gurus keep telling you to post 5 times a day on Twitter, 10 times a day on Instagram and 12 times a day on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean you should.
So, wait, am I saying there is something wrong with producing lots of content?
Of course not. Content marketing isn’t linear.
I wholeheartedly agree with Gary Vee’s advice that brands need to push out 50-100 pieces of content daily. But that only works and becomes valuable if you are playing the game right. Unless you know how to add value to your audience, more isn’t better.
Here’s how to fix this:
Have a content marketing strategy session with someone who genuinely cares about serving your guest at the highest possible level so that you can formulate and customize a strategy that works for you.
Consider your entire eco-system and don’t just post for the sake of posting. Create a long-term plan that brings into account the big picture.
Some of the questions to start asking yourself can include: How is my content adding value? Does it form part of my marketing cycle, and if so, how? What are the different needs my content solves for my client? Am I properly tracking responses to my content so we can improve things as we go? How is this helping build brand equity and loyalty?
There is no blanket solution for your content marketing efforts. Personalize and customize this experience instead of trying to have a one-size-fits-all.
A simple action step to help you create and publish without compromising on quantity and quality:
Instead of choosing an arbitrary number of content pieces to publish each day, do this: segment the various customer personas you want to be connecting with and serving online.
For example, if your ideal audience is a 40-year-old mother of three living in America, segment that out as much as possible. One variation can be a stay-at-home mom married to a corporate man. Another variation can be a single mom working in sales, marketing, production, or tech with an annual income of over $200,000. Another variation can be a first-generation immigrant from Latin America single mother with an annual income of $100,000.
With every variation, the message changes to suit the language, needs, and perception of the customer, because we can all appreciate that a Latina woman responds to a different message than a European or American mom. So the more segmented your content can be, the more meaningful it will be to the end consumer.
Once you map out how many different segments of your ideal audience you want to speak to, determining the right quantity to produce daily will come naturally. And whether that number is 10 or 110, the quality will not be compromised, because each piece of content will be speaking to the right target audience in a way that is meaningful and interesting to them.
These are just two of many tactics you can deploy on your content marketing strategy to make it more impactful and effective. Your audience should be your main focus when doing content marketing. They are the centerpiece, not your hotel.
When it comes to publishing, more is not always better. Each piece of content must serve a purpose and be meaningful to the end consumer.
You don’t need a big budget or a big team to execute on this, but you do need creativity and a few key people who can help you create a system around your marketing efforts so that your online presence can do more than just garner likes.
Which of these suggestions most resonated with you? Have you tried any of these? Feel free to share with me your thoughts.