Content Marketing 101

Traditional marketing methods are becoming less and less viable in today’s competitive market due to advanced technology. Today’s consumer is more tech savvy than ever and gets bored easily. Consumers are more informed than ever on products and services they want via various distribution channels.  Traditional methods are becoming boring and outdated and not interesting to the today’s highly informed consumer.  This in turn leads to low conversion rates, decreased website traffic and lower ROI (on a company’s marketing spend).

content-marketing-strategies-pillow-mint-partnersCompanies are seeking ways to implement new, creative and fresh marketing strategies with the primary goal of positioning their company and executives as experts in their industry. This not only increases a company’s overall credibility, it also shortens the sales cycle. The most effective thought leadership campaigns use content marketing to educate readers (potential clients, media, industry experts, etc.) about a company’s area of expertise.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a targeted marketing strategy that involves creating insightful, engaging and interesting written content with the goal of creating customer loyalty and increasing opportunities for future business. An effective content marketing strategy will engage its targeted audience with relevant information leaving them better informed and interested to find out more.

Content marketing can include a variety of tactics including but not limited to:

  • Articles published in high-profile publications
  • Blogging
  • e-Books
  • Webinars

Content marketing is not a direct sales tactic; instead it is a two-way communication between a business and its target audience. Similar public relations and social media, content marketing is not directly designed to sell a product/service. However, it can have significant effect on brand awareness and can be highly effective at positioning a company as an expert in their field. Though these activities cannot be directly linked to an increase in sales, they can significantly decrease the length of the sales cycle, making it a highly effective marketing medium — especially for start-ups and companies working in a highly competitive market with high supply. By improving the public’s understanding of who a company is and the product/service it offers, content marketing is a great avenue to increase a company’s credibility and brand recognition without the significant costs associated with more traditional marketing methods.To create an effective content marketing strategy here are four tips to get you started:

Embrace the Blog
Hosting a blog and sharing content on your website not only allows your customer to understand your position as an experienced insider, but it is also the easiest and most effective method of driving traffic to your site and increasing your SEO ranking. Every time a new blog post is added to your blog, the search engines scan your site, which immediately leads to a boost in your search ranking.

Create a weekly blogging schedule and post on the same days every week, so your followers will know when to visit your blog to read your new posts. For even greater consistency and brand recognition, you should cross-promote your blog through your company’s social media channels.

Promote Through Social Media
Social media is one of the best mediums to use to post and share your content. It is an integral component of your content marketing strategy. Almost everyone has either an i-phone or smartphone – and tied in with either Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so much more.

Implementing a social media schedule will help your business maintain its competitive edge while ensuring that you are offering interesting and unique content on a regular basis. The more views your post receives, the more it will be shared, commented on and enjoyed by both new and existing customers. Scheduling your posts to ensure the greatest exposure to your followers can make or break the success of your social media strategy. Scheduling tools like Hootsuite will enable businesses to share content at the time of day that it will make the biggest impact.

Drop the Sales Pitch

Effective content marketing minimizes the need for a sales pitch. In the event a company does choose to promote their company within their content, its content marketing strategy will not be effective. Most consumers are highly distrustful of advertising messages; so the moment your content becomes promotional, readers are likely to lose interest. Customers visit websites and social media channels to learn insightful information about a business’ area of expertise, not to experience a hard sell (or even a soft one!). Provide customers with the information they are will find meaningful and interesting.

For example, a hotel can use content marketing to increase repeat site visits from potential customers, increasing brand recognition, brand loyalty and increasing direct bookings in the process. In order to do so, the hotel would need to make their website (and blog) a destination for consumers to find out valuable travel tips (including topics like: how to save on your upcoming hotel stay, etc.). Because readers keep coming back to the site to learn from your content, they will be more likely to remember your hotel and visit your direct website (instead of the OTAs) when they are booking their next hotel stay in that destination.

By providing information versus using your content to sell, you are giving the customer time to develop trust for your company, before receiving your sales messages. If your content continues to be engaging, informative and relevant to the targeted audience, the customer will remember your company and come back to make a purchase when they are ready to do so.

Pillow Talk – July, August 2015

Dear Amita,

In today’s world we simply cannot live without technology. Lord help me if I ever lost my iPhone. However, technology does comes with it’s quirks. When this newsletter sent out yesterday, the contact name did not populate much to my chagrin. I am such a stickler for the details. So here we go again…Please enjoy!

Welcome to the July/August 2015 issue of Pillow Talk.

OMG! Time has flown by in 2015! RFP season has arrived… so the question is: ‘Are You Ready?’

Pillow Mint Partners specializes in the RFP process with both  Lanyon and  Sabre. We also offerAgency 360‘ drill down’ on the data, so your sales team can focus on selling vs. data mining. For more information and additional services provided, simply email us at: amita@pillowmintpartners.com.

As hoteliers strategize for 2016, it is important to reflect on what worked and did not work in 2015.  This issue focuses on travel statistics to consider for marketing strategies in 2016; how hoteliers can influence the booking decision and boost bookings online.

There are two great events scheduled this Fall: The NYC Tradeshow and BLLA’s Leadership Symposium. These events are designed specifically for boutique and lifestyle hotels. Register today!

This is a great time to schedule brainstorming sessions with your teams. Fresh ideas; constructive feedback on what worked in 2015 and what did not is a great way to start…but do not limit there…think about what makes your hotel unique from the competitive set and use that as leverage to target/secure new business.

Pillow Mint Partners extends full range of sales and marketing services that will address any needs you may have. The goal is to have your sales team focus on selling … let someone else take care of the ‘grunt’ work. Contact us at: amita@pillowmintpartners.com for a complimentary consultation.

Check out the Pillow Mint Partners Blog page for more content that can guide you, your sales team and the hotel

Thank you for reading Pillow Talk; we would love to hear from you. Your feedback, questions or comments are welcome! Please forward this newsletter to anyone you believe could benefit from our services.

AmitaAmita


What Factors Trigger Hotel Bookings and How Hoteliers Can Influence  the Booking Decision

Book HotelAccording to study by TrustYou, 95% of travelers read reviews.

The study was designed to understand which factors (e.g.

cleanliness, service, Wi-Fi, etc.) mentioned within those reviews

have the greatest influence on travelers’ booking decisions.

Eight travel scenarios (romantic get-away to business travel) were provided to US travelers in simulated booking environments. Pricing and quality variables were kept constant. Respondents were asked to choose a hotel in each scenario based only on a short review snippet containing a couple of words about hotel attributes, such as “great service,” “free Wi-Fi,” “clean rooms,” etc.

The findings showed the complexity of the booking process. For a hotel to be considered it must provide the basics such as cleanliness and comfort – the two most important factors in determining where to stay. However, when presented review ‘snippets’ or excerpts within a booking scenario, travelers often choose a hotel based on other factors relevant to the context in which they are traveling.

 To read more click here


Drive profitable bookings by building a loyal customer base 

eCommerceToday e-commerce is redefining the buying pattern of consumers. Its impact is evidently felt in the hospitality industry too. Online hotel booking is growing in significance, especially with a bulk of it being driven by online travel agents. However, while hotels are ensuring occupancy through third party distribution, a recent industry report states that customer acquisition costs in the hotel industry are on average 15% to 25% of total revenue, more than four times the 3% to 6% seen in airlines and the 4% to 6% in car rentals.

As a hotelier, how can you address this challenge?

We suggest you transform your own hotel website into a powerful online channel, to drive direct bookings and ensure repeat business. Brand.com site can significantly lower your customer acquisition cost as well as improve you guest relationship management. Powered with an advanced guest-centric booking technology, a hotel website can let you interact with your guests personally, understand their preferences and create custom packages and rates, build loyalty through promo-codes, and provide opportunity to select multiple services in a single transaction – thereby enhancing guest experience right from the first touch point.

To read more click here


NYC Trade ShowOctober 5 to 7, 2015

The NYC  Tradeshow is the perfect event for a boutique and lifestyle hotel to participate in. The   show producers are deeply invested in the boutique world and  under- stand the different needs  and nuances of this growing segment.

Brought to you by the LA Trade Show team, event will be the corporate, entertainment, and high touch travel industry’s celebrity for the week of October 5, 2015. The event will welcome more than 500  qualified clients and more throughout the week for 2 days of sales calls presentations throughout the city, plus the tradeshow, and capping it off with their famous annual corporate panel lunch at Below 54. The luncheon is k own for its networking and educational programming with corporate buyers as the panelists (the exhibitors are the audience) and cutting edge moderator.

Your hotel can participate in pre-arranged appointments and sales calls. These appointment based calls combine entertainment, corporate, production, small group and leisure clients.

This is always convenient for the client!

The sales calls are:

  • Held in collaboration with the trade show, panel discussion and sales workshops.
  • Always held during the first two days of the trade show week in the host city, the presentations preempt the trade show and esteemed panel discussion.
  • The team schedules and confirms hard to get appointments for travel related buyer companies.
  • The Registration Fees cover this cost – Just mark the correct box and pay ahead!
  • Board Room style presentations for you and your team of 5 persons are the rule.

The Team Leader for each sales team has years of marketplace experience with conducting sales calls & presentations, ensuring professionalism and networking beyond the expectations.

Catered Presentations are included with the big accounts during meal times.

Director – Jody Flowers – Jody@thelatradeshow.com

Sales for Sponsorships & Exhibitors – Kerry Cooper – cooper@hotelpaparazzi.com
Accounting – Mary-Ann Selvaggio –maryann@thelatradeshow.com


 

SAVE THE DATE

BLLAOctober 21 – 23, 2015 

Santa Monica, CA – Boutique Lifestyle Hospitality Leadership Symposium

To be added to the list for BLLA Conference updates email: info@blla.org and indicate which conference or conferences you are interested in. 
Click here for more information on how BLLA services the boutique and lifestyle hospitality industry


 

Genre Hotels – New Hotels

Genre Hotels
Hotels recently added to the Genre Hotels portfolio:

No New Hotels Added

Learn more about Genre Hotels…click here

Pillow Talk

Tips For Developing a Marketing Campaign

It is that time of year again when we begin to draft the annual marketing plan which generally includes an updated marketing campaign. It is important to remember that the process does not have to be difficult… by using a phased approach you will be able to develop a detailed plan that will allow you to communicate a single strategy to all of your partners, agencies, owners, employees, as well as assist in holding others accountable for their roles in the overall success.

marketing-strategies-pillow-mint-partnersPhase 1: Setting the Stage

The foundation of marketing success comes from strong positioning in the market place. The time and effort you put into the planning phases will pay off during the execution phase.

Formulate brand – Many believe that branding is simply a logo and tagline. It is much more… A brand is the combination of every touch point a person has with your company. How are they greeted when they walk into your hotel? How the guests greeted in the restaurant? Do your in-room amenities reflect the true essence of your brand? What messaging is in the on hold recording? Do emails contain useful information?



Define your positioning: Define you are…Are you a quaint, relaxing bed and breakfast? Or an amenity-driven, technology-filled oasis for business travelers? What makes your property unique? How is your brand presented in relation to your competitive set? A good way to determine your positioning is to focus how your hotel stands apart from the competitive set



Determine messaging – How would you describe your hotel? What words represent your brand identity and what does the hotel have to offer? Are you clearly explaining the value of your business?

Determine your audiences – The first step is to ask, “Who is my target market?” Are you a luxury brand targeting C-Level executives for transient business or high impact group events? Does your hotel cater to predominantly corporate transient business or leisure business? Is there a certain age demographic such as Millennials or baby boomers? All of these questions will help you determine your target audience

Phase 2: Resource Development

Now that you have set the stage with a brand look and feel it’s time to execute in different mediums.



Website – With today’s advances in technology, the website is often the first interaction and impression your client will have with your brand. Make sure that first impression is a good one. Websites should have clean, simple design and be easy to navigate. The rule of thumb is no more than 3 clicks for the client to get the information they are seeking. Never sacrifice usability for ascetics. The website is merely a touch point for the client to reach out to you.

Collateral – In the digital age, collateral provides an opportunity to stand out even more by offering an emotional experience. Make your collateral clear, concise with minimal verbiage. Use professional photography that invokes a positive emotional response. Collateral must represent your brand. Do not be something you are not…this will lead to a client’s expectation not being fulfilled…thus possible loss of the client’s future business.



Communication appropriate for the medium – When drafting copy, make note of the medium it will be used in. Website copy is best written in a more bulleted format than a brochure. White papers are written in a more formal voice than social media posts. POP graphics may be bolder than visuals in a 32-page brochure.

Phase 3: Drafting the Strategy

How will you achieve your sales and revenue goals within each market segment? A well-thought out and defined strategy will identify who your target customers are, how to reach them, how to have them become loyal repeat guests while general referral business from them.

Marketing budget – Know your total available budget. Make sure that funds are allotted to each expense line item. By knowing what the monthly budget is for advertising, sales travel, client entertainment etc. will allow you to keep on budget…and the possibility of saving a few dollars to use elsewhere. Then prioritize your needs from there. Try to keep some funds in reserve so you can take advantage of unexpected opportunities.

Plan – A strong plan will ensure you’re not only sticking to your schedule, but that you’re spending your marketing funds and resources wisely and appropriately.

Track the results: this will help you identify strategies that are working:
1.Track sales leads
2. Track visitors to the hotel website
3. Survey clients

A year is 12 months – The marketing plan should include a year-round strategy on how to reach each market segment. An integrated plan includes: online, seo, ppc; social media; PR; email marketing; customer relationship management, and more. A combination of programming, offers, events, and activities will keep your customer engaged.

Phase 4: Pulling the trigger!

This is where you make it happen!

Maintain focus – An actionable timeline will keep everyone on track with deadlines and allow advanced planning for proper execution.  The result – resources are used more efficiently on what is needed to make things happen.

Think beyond the boundaries – Most boutique and lifestyle hotels have limited teams. Do not let that get in the way of you accomplishing the predetermined goals. You can always hire additional support to execute a more aggressive plan that will help you achieve your sales/revenue goals.

Why Ongoing Sales Training/ Coaching Is Invaluable

We all agree that hotels are always – especially smaller hotels with 200 rooms or less, look for ways to reduce their overall expenses generally at the expense of ongoing sales training. While this may look good on paper, in reality it is the worst thing an hotelier can do.

sales-training-value-pillow-mint-partnersWhat is not realized is the ongoing sales training can actually assist the hotel achieve its revenue goals:

  • Through difficult economic times
  • Keep the hotel ahead of the competitive set
  • Reel in business that positively impacts the hotels bottom line without sacrificing the targeted ADR

Sales training scheduled only during the ‘boom times’ is no longer viable and simply passé.
Today’s sales managers not only have to sell differently, they must learn how to anticipate client needs and expectations.
The sales process has to be transformed into a “buyer focused” format where getting key details while building a relationship is the primary goals.
There is more than one type of sales training – strength training for sales is a newer approach with a higher ROI.
It is far more productive (not to mention cost effective) to ‘pitch’ to the ‘right’ client by knowing their needs vs. simply making a sales call – which literally is a waste of time and money.
The days of following a sales quota* is passé –it is far more effective and productive to make quality calls which ultimately will result in a higher ROI.
Ongoing sales training encourages sales managers to replace ineffective, practices with effective bottom line, results oriented sales practices.
In between the ongoing sales training sessions sales managers can practice what they learn in the real world.
Ongoing sales coaching ensures that all discussions incorporate knowledge gained from sales training and that appropriate actions are taken. Sales managers become disciplined and accountable.
Ongoing sales training should be more than strategy and technique. Sales training should begin with building a strong foundation. That foundation is your sales team and long term continuous success!
To learn more about sales training/coaching by Pillow Mint Partners, click here

Dressing for Success at Work

I have always been told I dress very well, even when I first entered the workplace many moons ago earning what seemed like pennies on the dollar. I am a firm believer that one can dress professionally and project an unyielding confidence without having to break the bank. It is how you piece together an outfit that matters.

dress-for-the-work-place-pillow-mint-partners

When I was hired for my first job, I had no clue of how to dress professionally. In college, my ‘uniform’ was blue jeans, t-shirts and sweatpants. So when I landed a sales manager position fresh out of school, I faced the dilemma of what to wear.

I read through magazines, walked the malls and watched how women I admired dressed. I bargained shopped for shoes and clothes which when pulled together looked quite expensive. The key was that I looked professional and exuded an air of confidence that belied my experience.

Today, there are many definitions of professional attire. CEO’s wear jeans and hoodies; it has become acceptable for women to wear very short dresses (more than 5 inches above the knee) and body piercing is rampant.

However, at the end of day, first impressions are everything. You have no more than 3 seconds to make a good first impression.

What are the advantages of dressing for success?

1.  An immediate good impression
2.  Exude confidence
3.  Be treated with more respect and taken more seriously

My motto, always dress for the position above what you currently hold. This way you dress and perform in this manner with the bonus of upper management taking notice.
So what are the guidelines for dressing for success at work?

  • Know Your Company and Your Client – In recent years dressing for the office has become a little more relaxed and casual in certain professions where others remain highly conservative. Dress to reflect your job. If you are in fashion, you better be fashionable. Carefully consider your company’s dress code policy and whether it is casual, conservative, stylish or young and fresh, prior to going out and splurging on a new wardrobe. To extend your wardrobe, make sure your pieces are versatile.  For example, one day you may be meeting with a creative agency where everyone is dressed casually; the next day you may have a meeting with a financial institution client, where standard practice is suit and tie. So dress appropriately for your company and your client.
  • Organize – Keep all of your work-appropriate attire in a designated space in your closet. Not only will you save time in the morning scramble of trying to find something to wear, there will be no question in your mind as to whether or not the clothing is appropriate. By the same token, designate closet space for clothes that are not appropriate for work, like shorts, flip flops, t-shirts, miniskirts and sweats.
  • Be Appropriate – No matter the company, use common sense and be appropriate. Women – avoid anything too low-cut, formfitting or short. If you would wear it to a club on Saturday night or to the beach, don’t wear it to work, even if you add a scarf to it.
  • Shop Strategically – Professional attire is not something any professional should skimp on. The quality of your clothing shows and sometimes you need to fake it until you make it. It is worth it to invest in a few key pieces that will stand the test of time and are easy to mix and match. For the women spend more on things like shoes, purses and belts. For men, you can never have enough dress shirts and your “go-to” blazer.
  • Dress Your Age – In terms of work dress, many young professionals make one of two mistakes: they dress too young (in too tight or revealing clothing for women, or sloppy, college boyish attire for the men); or they dress too old for their age in an attempt to make themselves seem more “professional.” Dress your age. Let your intellect reflect your wisdom and worldliness, not necessarily your attire.
  • Easy on the Makeup and Cologne/ Perfume – Make up should be understated and neutral. Save the smoky eyes for Saturday night out on the town. The same can be said for perfume and cologne – pick something that is lighter and more day-appropriate and don’t overdo it.
  • Details Matter – For men and women alike, maintain clean, clipped, well-groomed nails to complete your professional appearance. For most professions, men – keep any facial hair properly groomed. Keep your shoes clean, as dirty shoes can throw off an otherwise polished appearance. Finally, no matter how casual your clothes are, make sure they are ironed and wrinkle-free.