It’s an appropriate time to review how the first quarter went for both our personal fitness goals and our marketing fitness goals. OK, let’s forget about that personal fitness thing and focus on marketing fitness. After all, this is a marketing column.

Dave Bodle

For tour operators and suppliers mutually, I certainly hope that 2013 got off to a good start. Did you go to the marketplaces (and they certainly came fast and furious this year) well prepared? Who brought fresh ideas to the table? Who’s followed up on those appointments?

In our February 2013 issue we mentioned Brand Ambassadors and their importance in digital word-of-mouth advertising. I really don’t want to wear you out, but I recently came across information that reinforces the point.

When asked about credible sources for a brand, 38 percent of the consumers answered, “Another consumer.” The brand itself as a credible source with consumers followed at 32 percent. Journalists were a surprising third on the list of credible sources.

So, if you place an advertisement, use a Brand Ambassador in that ad and convince the editor to give you some ink, you should be good to go? Not so fast, my friends—we may be a little premature. Let’s take a look at the broader picture.

At the risk of oversimplification there are three things every advertiser needs to look at before beginning to create an advertisement: Reach, frequency and image. Whatever the parameters of your budget, the key components must be in play to assure your marketing fitness.

Reach is an understanding of who is your desired customer. “Everybody” is not an acceptable answer. Tour operators do not have product for “everybody” and likewise, neither do suppliers. Remember, new business is the lifeline of any business. If you don’t have a clear handle on “your most desired, potential customer,” how will you ever talk to them?

In this issue of Leisure Group Travel we shared a few Experiential Tourism opportunities in each of the Southern states. Do these ideas fit with a tour operator’s present customer base? Or, does that tour operator need to reach “new desired potential customers” for that piece of business? Suppliers, when you develop new experiences, think about which tour operators are the best candidates to take advantage of the new product.

Frequency is delivering a consistent message (image) to your desired customer (reach) over a period of time. Some marketers believe a customer must hear or see your message at least three times before they retain it. Personally, I believe that’s a gross understatement. With the advent of social media and the tremendous amount of exposure to advertising clutter we face, I believe frequency is difficult to measure.

Regardless of the frequency your budget allows, it does not pay to be all over the place.

You cannot be here today, over there tomorrow and down the road next Thursday. Pick the media that works best with your objectives and budget. Be consistent with your frequency and avoid those “special one-time, I need to know today” deals.

Image is the fun part of our three components and much easier when we address reach and frequency, first. Suppliers need to avoid the “concrete and steel” message that makes their hotel or attraction look just like the next. Tour operators need to avoid making every destination look and feel the same. Too many choices makes it to easy to choose nothing.

Here’s the important part. Every bit of marketing you do, from sales to promotion to the product to the price itself, must reflect your company. That consistency is critical to your marketing fitness.

Contact Dave at 843-997-2880 or email dave@ptmgroups.com.