How to Convey Your Brand Promise and Close Leads in the Internet Age
By John Ely Senior Vice President of Marketing, Signature Worldwide | October 28, 2008
How many people used the Internet worldwide in 2000? Any guesses? OK, I'll spill the beans - about 360 million. On the surface, that sounds like a huge number. After all, that's nearly twice the entire U.S. population. But, in just eight short years, the number has grown to 1.4 billion - nearly quadrupling the 2000 total. Now we're talking about a number larger than the entire population of China!
Any activity, product or service that captures 1.4 billion people worldwide certainly has a huge impact on our lives and business, and the Internet falls into all of those categories:
- It is an activity. I'm on the Internet five or more hours every workday. (How many hours do your kids partake in this activity?)
- It's a product. No one sells the Internet to us, but they do sell a lot of peripheral items in conjunction with the World Wide Web such as software or hardware. How many people in the last eight years have purchased computers with the sole intent of surfing the Web?
- Finally, it is a service. I do nearly 100 percent of my research online. From the car I buy to the location of the nearest ATM, I start on the Web to answer most of my questions. With these numbers in mind, coupled with the fact that hotel Internet reservations also have doubled in the last eight years, how is it possible deliver your brand message among this sea of information and surfers? I think we have a lot of options. Delivering your brand promise in the age of the Internet may not be as difficult as you suspect.
I remember years ago when I used to book hotels by phone. I had no idea of the location or the surrounding area, simply a number to call to speak to a reservations agent. How did I find out about the hotel? Well, I was probably first introduced by some form of advertisement (TV, radio or print).
Next, if I was an enterprising individual, I would contact a travel agent to get more information on my destination, the area hotels and other pertinent details. I usually relied on the travel agent's recommendation. Other than the original advertising delivered by the hotel chain, branding didn't play a huge role in my decision.
Now, let's fast forward to today. I research hotels on my own and rarely, if ever, rely on the opinion of a travel agent. In fact, I can't remember the last time I even spoke to a travel agent! So, now I have the opportunity to start by checking out the hotel's Web site - the logical first point of contact for any type of consumer research these days. This is where branding can begin.