Talking About Tourism Marketing

One of my greatest passions (aside from marketing, of course) is travelling.  I love seeing new places, learning about other cultures and getting inspired by local marketing and advertising too. I am currently planning for my next adventure – in about a month’s time, we will be heading to beautiful Alaska!

When I research and plan my travel itineraries, I usually like to head over to the local tourism websites.  They are usually a great resource with planning tools and links to upcoming events, restaurants, must see hot spots and even promotions. In recent years, I’ve noticed so many non-profit tourism marketing organizations branch out from their website and venture into new digital mediums for their marketing.  From Instagram accounts to Vine videos, contests and even working with local bloggers to help highlight what their cities have to offer – from an outsider’s perspective, it definitely looks like a fun industry to be in!

I would say that the industry as a whole has really upped their game! Just take a look at the major difference in these 2 videos, created 4 years apart. Granted, they are not from the same organization but I think it depicts just how much the industry has grown in recent years!

This video from Tourism Jasper popped up in YouTube while I was searching for videos on Alaska. I say, ad dollars well spent there!


Title: Venture Beyond
Agency: Stormy Lake Consultants and C&B Advertising
Client: Tourism Jasper

The respective websites also tell a very different story.  The Travel Alaska site is a bit chunkier to use and researching on my phone proved to be difficult since many of the pages were text-heavy. The main focus was on Alaska’s natural beauty (no doubt what the majority of visitors are looking for). There were also many layers with a lot of information buried deeper into the site.  I wonder if many of the readers delved as far as I did (or if I was just a tad bit less patient than the average user… ;D )

Tourism Jasper Venture Beyond

On the other hand, the Tourism Jasper site was highly visual. The pictures highlighted not only of Jasper’s natural beauty but also the many other activities and experiences the destination had to offer.  It incorporated Instagram and benefited from the efforts spent on social media. While the site also presented a lot of information, there were fewer layers (and fewer clicks to get to information).  The site also made it very easy to connect with local vendors for accommodations, food and activities.

While I will be proceeding with my trip to Alaska, the exposure to the “Venture Beyond” video from Tourism Jasper has certainly opened my eyes to what Jasper has to offer.  It might be time to start exploring my own country!

Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Ram Truck Targets the Elusive Female Truck Buyers

I saw this ad from Ram Trucks the other day – and it really blew me away.  It wasn’t so much the content of the ad but the fact that it was Ram Trucks targeting the female market. How very different and yet, awesome at the same time!  I think I am so conditioned to seeing truck ads with heavy rock music, rugged terrains, and trucks pulling something heavy that seeing this one really threw me in for a loop.  Picking up on the female empowerment theme, Ram Trucks does a good job of sending an inspirational message that is strong yet feminine.

Check it out:

Title: Courage is Already Inside
Agency: The Richards Group
Client: Ram Trucks

Accompanied by a short caption “Have you ever thought you just didn’t have anything left in the tank? Well — you do. Guts. Glory. Ram.”, the ad is just so powerfully and thematically effective.

1_82

Looking into this further, it seems that Ram Trucks also partnered with country singer Miranda Lambert to create this song (or ad?) released back in May titled “Roots and Wing”. “I am very inspired by what the Ram brand stands for — being who you are, working hard, staying true to your roots,” Lambert said in her press release for the song. “I wanted to write a song that would represent all of those things. ‘Roots and Wings’ is personal to me about where I come from and where I am going. The guys at Ram really made the lyrics come to life with the imagery and I hope it speaks to people the way it does to me.” Miranda Lambert is such a great fit for the brand – the perfect mix of country, home grown American roots, strength and mass appeal to cater to the female pickup buyers!


Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

10 Tips for Writing for Mobile – Post Mobileggedon

Now that we are a few months past ‘Mobileggedon’ – how did your sites fare with the algorithm update? Back in February, Google’s Webmaster Central blog made this announcement:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices. (Full blog post here)

Luckily, none of my sites were impacted greatly in the search results.  When I first heard of the news, I was a bit concerned about this ‘deadline’ / ‘ultimatum’.  When I thought more on it – it just makes plain sense!  If you don’t already have a mobile-friendly site set up, you are causing your customers so much hassle (and lots of unnecessary scrolling, zooming & wishing for tinier fingers).  On that note though, having a mobile-friendly site is not enough to ensure a pleasant site visit.  One of the important factors you have to consider is that content consumption is different on a mobile device.  If you haven’t already explore Thinking with Google’s research on Micro Moments, head over now for some great insight. In short, mobile search is more purposeful – the ‘Is-it-worth-it moments’ to ‘show-me-how moments’ to ‘ready-for-a-change moments’ are all ‘inspired moments’ that are mostly on-the-go.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

If your business receives a lot of mobile search, you have to make sure the content on your site is mobile-friendly and conducive to the ‘moment’ your audience is conducting their search. A restaurant for example, might want to make their menu easily accessible on their website. Not only that, knowing site visitors might be visiting on their mobile devices, they might want to not make their menu a downloadable PDF file (just saying!) Here are a few more pointers on writing for mobile:

  1. Write a Compelling Headline – think of what your customers will be searching for and write headlines that satisfies their needs. This will draw them in to either make contact or dig deeper. Keep your headlines short – 55 characters or less as guideline.
  2. Use Sub Headlines – readers consumer content in chunks so guide them through the page with informative sub headlines. Even better if they make sense on their own!
  3. Deliver Content in Bite-Size Bits – each section under a sub headline should be concise as well!
  4. Make Your Content Skimmable – remember that smaller screens will make even the smallest paragraphs seem long winded.  After writing your content, edit and refine to make sure your content is as concise as it can be.  Use bullet lists, bolded or italicized text to bring focus to important points.
  5. Keep Your Most Important Information at the Top – according to Content Marketing Institute, users give 68% of their attention to the center and top half of a mobile page, and a full 86% to the upper two-third. Below that point, they tend to lose focus and concentration.
  6. Use Images Wisely – people love to look at pictures. When given a choice between images or text, most reader’s eyes will gravitate towards the images. Images also take up a lot of space (something you don’t have a lot of on mobile). So – before you add images alongside your text, think about whether it will be a distraction or enhancement to your content.
  7. Be as Concise as Possible –  Edit, edit and then edit some more! Writing for mobile is not just about using fewer words, it is about writing better. That means getting rid of unnecessary filler words and phrases.
  8. Leave Spaces Between Links – if you are adding links to your writing, be sure to leave enough room in between so that your users can accurately select the link they want. (Not all of us have tiny, delicate fingers…)
  9. Remember Your Keywords – SEO is still important, even if you are writing for mobile. Remember to include your keywords for SEO purposes.
  10. Don’t Rely on Design – with all the different phones we have out there, what is ‘above’ the fold on an iPhone 6 might not be in the same spot on a Samsung Galaxy. The point is, don’t rely on design to position your content where you want. It will be impossible to satisfy all the screen sizes out there!

If you haven’t thought about your mobile content – now is a great time to get started!

Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

7 Tips for Writing Headlines That Work

I think we can all agree that writing headlines is, by far, the most difficult part of publishing. After all, there is a lot of pressure to come up with headlines that are attention grabbing, yet short and to the point.

After all, as the great David Ogilvy, ‘Father of Advertising’ once said: “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.  When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”  I’ve been using this as a guideline for my print ad layouts – and making sure that the headline alone is able to communicate the gist of what the rest of the copy is about.

On the average, five times as many

I do a lot of writing in my current role – not just for websites and blogs but also for print.  While online content consumption is usually very different from traditional mediums, the one challenge they do have in common is the short attention span of their readers.  I once heard someone talk about a ‘trifecta’ formula to writing perfect headlines – how every headline has to contain three points of value that the audience would find useful.  But the more I think about it, the more I wonder – do we really have time to convey 3 facts in 1 headline?

Nowadays, my formula consists of one topic in a catchy phrase, supported by a slightly longer sub-headline.  This formula has served me well for print headlines and even email banners.  Blogs and other pieces that rely on a single headline are harder and take more time to come up with.  I must admit – headlines are definitely not my forte!  Here are a few additional guidelines I have been using to help with the process:

  1. 50/50 Rule – I have read of a 50/50 rule which claims you should spend at least half of your time (and effort) developing and refining your headline
  2. Start with the Value – be clear on the benefits you want to convey and build a headline around what you want your audience to remember
  3. Use Sub Headlines – people tend to consume information in chunks so use sub headlines to bring my detail and structure (especially true for longer pieces)
  4. Be Specific – and avoid vague terms and blanket statements. This allows you to get right to the point without filler and other unnecessary words
  5. Be Compelling – this goes without saying! If you are in marketing, creating compelling content is at the foundation of what you do. It shows how well you know your audience and how much you can relate to them (or vice versa)
  6. Provide Urgency – when you have a compelling headline, you can urge your audience to take action. Communicate if the content is time sensitive (like a sale that is ending soon or an upcoming event)
  7. Edit, Edit and Then, Edit Some More – I often write headlines first before developing the content and use it as a guideline to what the content should talk about. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to go back and make sure the headline is still relevant, effective etc.

Hopefully with a bit more patience and practice, this process will become a much easier one in the future! Do you have any tips for writing strong and compelling headlines?  Share your best practices with me in the comments!

Follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Email or Phone?

Because we have a very ‘phone-driven’ sales process here at work, I often get asked – do people prefer to get information over the phone or by email when they are researching vendors?

I can speak from experience – I recently got engaged and have been in full wedding planning mode. We’ve just begun hunting for a venue location for our big day!  I’ve contacted quite a few vendors and it was easy contacting them through the emails they listed or the contact forms on their website.  Because I do most of my research at night and on weekends, it was the best way for me to make arrangements for site tours and visits.

Retro-saleswomanOf all the vendors I contacted, one decided to forgo email completely and call me instead.  Because he had called me during work hours, we could not chat long. He gave me a lot of information during our conversation and we arranged for a time to meet in person.  When the phone call ended, I realized the notes I took were scribbles and it took a while to decipher all the information I needed.  When we showed up on Wednesday at the agreed upon time for our meeting, he was not there because he had put the date down for the week after.

This made me realize that while getting on the phone can be a much speedier process for moving the sales process along, it can also complicate the dialogue when key information is missed or not conveyed properly.  I also like to keep my work and private life separate when possible so the phone call caught me off guard!

Of course, not everyone will have the same preferences as me so be sure to have different approaches if possible to fit your customer’s needs. For instance, if your sales process is phone-driven, have a pre-drafted email that you can personalize and send out in case your customer does not pick up the phone.  Maybe funnel them to an email approach where you will continue to gather key information.  If your sales process is web-driven, perhaps arrange for a live agent to be available through chat so your customers can still have the instantaneous feedback if that is what they want.  There is no one size fits all but insisting on one method of communication over another might do you more harm than good!

Follow me on Twitter and Google+.

 

 

How to Make the Most of Your Vehicle Wraps

Last week as I was walking to work, I passed by a man standing on the sidewalk starring at a van.  As I was approaching, the man took out his phone and snapped a few photos.  I thought it was a bit odd until I walked by the van myself and noticed a picture of a cleaning bison!

The bison was an illustration but he was fully dressed and using what looked like a carpet cleaner.  It was a cute mascot for the company and it did what mascots are supposed to do for branding – it made the company memorable and top of mind.

Days later, as I was searching online for this company, I remembered the cleaning bison and typed in just that into the Google search bar – ‘Bison cleaning services’.  I didn’t remember the name of the company but the image of the cleaning bison in a service uniform had stuck with me.

Cleaning BisonI found the company (it was the first listing on the SERP). I clicked on the website but unfortunately did not see any cleaning bisons!  I immediately left the website thinking I had clicked on the wrong company.  After further research (because I am persistent), I could not find any other cleaning service providers in my city that referenced a bison so I concluded that the first website I visited must have been the one I was looking for.  Yellow Pages confirmed my suspicions when I saw the cleaning bison in one of their listings for the same company.

This made me realize – while it is useful to brand your company vehicles with promotional decalling, it is equally important to make sure all your other pieces in your advertising mix are consistent and carry the same messaging or look!  When you only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention as they are driving or walking past your vehicles, they will likely not be able to retain a lot of information.  What they do retain, you have to make sure they will be able to easily make the connection to your website or easily locate your contact information on the web.   This applies to other outdoor advertising as well such as billboards, bus benches and refuse bins for example.

If you are looking for new business, you want to make sure your customers are reaching you when they are searching for you on the web!  (Not everyone will take a photo like the man I walked by on the street!)

Follow me on Twitter and Google+.

 

On Repeat – Lord and Taylor’s Handkerchief Dress

Lord & Taylor’s latest campaign will have you seeing double… or 50 times to be more exact.

Last weekend, Lord & Taylor debuted its handkerchief paisley dress from its new Design Lab collection.  The dress didn’t debut on Lord & Taylor’s Instagram feed though. It showed up on the feeds of 50 influential fashion bloggers that were hand-selected to help with the announcement.

I am a regular user of Instagram. Something about the easy, image-focused format makes the app so addicting!  Personally, I love using the app for inspirations on photography, quotes, news and of course, fashion. In the world of fashion blogging, what sets each fashion blogger apart from others is their own sense of individual style.  So imagine my surprise when I saw several bloggers wearing the same paisley handkerchief dress from Lord and Taylor on my feed!

 

 

Perfect weather for a day at the beach in my #DesignLab dress exclusive to @lordandtaylor #ad

A photo posted by S H E R Y L (@walkinwonderland) on

After a little digging around, I realized it was a concerted effort by Lord & Taylor to get the word out on their new Design Lab Collection.  The company had selected each of the bloggers for their unique sense of style and of course, their fan base! Each of the bloggers selected had sizeable follower counts – anywhere from 50,000 to 1.4 million followers.

This got me excited about #thedress (haha) but even more so, about the marketing!  In taking this unprecedented move, Lord & Taylor had found the perfect way to reach their target market of 18 – 35 year old fashion conscious women, bringing exposure to the brand in a bold, new way.  Whatever your perception of the brand was (or lack of, in a lot of cases, I bet!), Lord & Taylor had successfully attached itself to some of today’s most respected and followed fashion bloggers in America. This must have injected some new energy into a brand that has  been around since the 1800’s!

I read through some of the comments on the paisley dress photos.  Some followers were genuinely interested in the dress. Others were not so amused – there were a few people who expressed disappointment that their favourite bloggers had ‘sold out’ and received compensation for a a very sponsored post.  But overall, the way I see it – Lord & Taylor is ready to fight for this coveted consumer market and it has entered into the fight in a very bold way! So far the strategy seems to be working, as the sold out within a week!

This has been an interesting campaign to follow! Does this affect the way followers consume these blogger’s editorial content? Will they be more leery now to these fashion ‘collaborations’? or has it been a mutually beneficial exercise for the bloggers and the brand?

Follow me on Twitter and Google+.