Tips on Marketing Through a Downturn: Focus and Prioritisation

By Sanjay Nijhawan COO, Guoman Hotels (UK) | June 06, 2010

Whilst we are living in unprecedented times there is no reason why the basic precepts of good marketing practice should suddenly be removed and replaced by knee-jerk reactions and cost-cutting. Indeed the opposite is true - never has it been more important to be faithful to your brand's promise. Now is the time to remember what makes marketing work effectively and, even more importantly in the current climate, efficiently. Maintaining your marketing activity and budget, whilst ensuring it is working as hard as possible, will be vital to negotiating your way through this recession and in ensuring you are in a strong position when we come out of it. So, here are my top tips for marketing through an economic downturn.

Customers

Prospects are not going to make you successful next year - customers will. Existing customers are up to 7 times more profitable to deal with than new customers - so there has never been a better time to identify who your best customers are and get as close to them as possible. Particularly in times of economic uncertainty and tight budgets, there is no point in trying to be all things to all people; it is ineffective and costly. Much better to reach out to customers who will be glad to work with you.

Regular communication with your key customers is vital. Understanding and addressing their issues will be key to your survival, retaining their business and preventing them being wooed by an ever more active competition. Simple steps include targeting your sales-team with regular meetings with these key accounts; develop simple communications, such as email updates, to keep them abreast of any developments or special offers; provide a senior point of contact so they feel recognised, they have a direct communication channel with your company and can speak to an individual empowered to make decisions that will help retain their business.

Differentiate your offering

In tough times it is easy to be too focused on price. Find alternative ways to compete other than solely on price. Not only will your activity be more profitable (as price reductions immediately hit the bottom line) but it will stand out against your competitors, increasing the likelihood of generating responses from your target audience.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.