Digital Marketing For Hospitality Venues – It’s Actually Really Quite Simple!

Is your venue on Facebook? Should it be? Do you have a database? Do you have a website? Are you getting the most out of the platforms you have engaged? These are questions that are routinely pondered by publicans when considering the increasingly complicated and often bewildering world of digital marketing. Just ten years ago there were really only two main options for a hotel wishing to promote itself. A board out the front and press adds. Today the range of options is nothing short of astonishing. The good news is that once you have swept away all the new buzz words what is left facing you is a very simple old fashioned proposition.

Provide people with something that is interesting and relevant and they will buy from you.

 

The reality is that databases, websites, blog posts, social media platforms etc. all serve fundamentally the same purpose as the board and press add. They are ways of getting your word out with a view to driving more sales. You do need to treat them slightly differently, on Facebook for instance your message needs to be constructed such that it is more conversational than a website add might be, but fundamentally they serve the same purpose. So what is absolutely essential is that any activity you undertake in digital marketing is driven from your marketing plan, yep, the same one that ten years ago was nice and simple containing press adds and A-frame board advertising.

What you need to start with is a very simple plan that answers the following questions in order.

  1. Who is my target demographic(s)?
  2. Why would they be interested in hearing from me?
  3. How and how often would they like to hear from me

Allow me to illustrate this process with a case study.

I first met Bill Ferg from The Lobster Cave in Melbourne two years ago. He had a database of 6,000 people and a website. Pretty good numbers for a restaurant. He was very clear of who his target demographics were, 35+yo mid to high disposal income with a slight slant towards females. When I asked him why these people would be interested in joining his database or visiting his website his answer was entirely logical, “Because they are interested in the restaurant”. With a little drilling however we ended up with a much broader answer to this question, “because they are interested in good food & wine experiences”.

With dot points one and two answered we moved onto number three. Facebook and Twitter were added to the mix and a communication schedule was drawn up that outlined when communications would be sent, what medium they would be sent via and in very general terms what would they be about.

It is very much the ‘what they would be about’ that was key to our successes here. Having appreciated that at the heart of matters our target demographic were foodies every communication regardless of the medium used to deliver it headlines with a foodies theme. We share recipes, tips on what fish is currently good eating, provide a summary of food and wine events taking place in any given month in and around Melbourne. Underneath all this we promote the venue with a more traditional ‘add’ or offer. The thinking here is quite simple, if I do not have your attention you do not hear me. But if I do get your attention I will be heard. Nobody sits in front of a TV to watch adds, we sit to watch the programming and if the adds capture our attention that is just a bonus. Digital marketing, marketing in general really is just the same. Provide people with something that is interesting and relevant and you have a much better chance of encouraging them to buy from you.

In the two years since we adopted this approach at The Lobster Cave Bill’s database has grown from 6,000 to 24,000, He has grown a social media presence across Twitter & various Facebook pages of 16,000, hits on his website have tripled and most importantly revenue is up by 25%.

So don’t make the mistake that many venues make by jumping into Facebook because everyone else has leaving it totally disjointed from your marketing plan. Start with the plan and put some effort into building your venues ‘voice’. For Bill it was the foodies theme. For others it is “we have a great range of beverages”, “We are serious about steak”, “We are kid friendly” or even “We are just a good fun pub”.

With a solid plan in hand that will appeal to your target demographic you are ready to look at what mix of digital ‘channels’ are right for your venue and target demographic, and remember, Facebook, Twitter, websites and databases need not be viewed as anything more complicated than ways to get your message out. What however is of paramount importance is the message.

For a more in depth chat about these concepts specific to your venue feel free to give Kurt, Mike or Marisa at Impact Data a call anytime on (03) 9827 7790.

 

 

 

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