Tip 4: Plan & Brand
Your database is clean, you’ve written some great on-brand content for the relevant platforms and added the perfect images to compliment your story. It’s time to share with the world, right?
Sure, if it’s a one off but the key to long term marketing success is not just delivering one fantastic message it’s in delivering them consistently, on-time and on-brand again and again.
To ensure this happens we recommend you implement an annualised or 6 monthly marketing activity calendar which sets out when you are posting something and through which medium.
Contrary to how we hoteliers experience it, “Christmas already????? Where did the year go?”, it always falls on 25th December. Valentines is always on 14th February and New Years Eve on 31st December.
As such your website should not be advertising romantic Valentines packages in the middle of March. Create a plan, action it and stick to it.
Break this plan into weekly activities and get in the habit of incorporating this into your management meetings. “What’s going out this week then team?”, “Oh we’re selling that special Halloween dinner through social followed up with a marketing email on Saturday morning.” “Very good. Hold on it’s only March??” kind of thing.
Your plan, in its simplest form should set out what you want to promote/talk about, when and through which media. So take a
spreadsheet and set-out firstly the media you have at your disposal such as: social channels, web pop-up, lift panels, reception TV etc then plan your activities based on the needs of the business.
As mentioned in a previous Tip, focus promotions and offers on the low season. Try and co-ordinate marketing messages through your public channels and where possible maximise your in-room or in-hotel marketing collateral. TV screen behind reception? Promote that Valentines dinner. Panels in the lift? Yes, remind guests that the spa is doing a 2-4-1 on manicures this weekend.
By having a calendar of what you want to promote and when and through what, you can keep on top of your activities, plan them in advance and really fine tune your proactive B2C marketing.
Your brand is very important. This is why businesses spend millions on developing and fine-tuning theirs. Now you may not be launching the next Apple or Coca-Cola but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make sure that you have brand protection and that you keep your marketing aesthetically consistent.
Firstly, register your brand. Now this varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and some regions have stronger law and enforcement than others. But if you can, just make sure that your name and brand is protected to the full extent of the law. This is often done at time of incorporation but if it wasn’t then try and add yourself to the register in your area.
Now most hotels already have logos etc but we tend to find that it’s the application of the identity that is often lacking. If you don’t already have imagery or you’re thinking of a refresh then consider a number of things. Firstly, your brand is important. It represents your values, culture and how you’re viewed by the world. It needs to be recognisable and needs to be something that conveys your product in an instantly digestible format.
There is a story behind our brand which we won’t bore you with now but needless to say it’s reflective of who we are and what we value. Ideally you should be updating your logo and imagery every 5 years or so. That’s not to say you need to completely rebrand but do try and keep it fresh. It keeps you current and stops you coming across as dated.
Your brand manual is where you store your logos in all format colours, black, white, transparent, coloured, with name, with no name etc alongside all of your official fonts and colours and their preferred use. Now you may think that a small hotel doesn’t need something so formal but to reiterate a point made earlier in our series, branding either looks professional or it doesn’t. It’s the application of it that makes the difference.
That’s not to say that your brand needs to be stuffy or unrepresentative of your hipster lodge, but it does need to be consistently applied. So use the same logo, colours and fonts in your email signature. Use it on your wedding brochure.
Use it on menus, on in-room messaging, on guest directories, on your website, on your lift panels, hotel signage and everywhere.
Having a manual though is only as effective as your control of it. So be a pain about this and make sure no-one is sending out emails without the right signature. Make sure your restaurant manager is not printing their own menus or specials without brand approval.
Have a ‘brand manager’. It doesn’t need to be a marketing person. It can be the GM or the reservations manager. That person should be the gatekeeper and reference point for your brand, internally and externally.
If you want a copy of what a brand manual should look like just drop us a line. We’ve produced many for our clients over the years so we think we’ve been able to fine-tune them. We’re happy to share ours with you.