November 18, 2016 #AskMeredith, Blog

Now that you’ve made the decision to become a travel agent, developing a solid marketing plan can seem daunting!  It’s likely you are overwhelmed with the options in terms of where and how to market and are scratching your head trying to figure out where to begin.  Perhaps it feels like there is a big, thick, cloud of confusion?  Should you advertise here or there?  Should you exhibit at this festival or that one?  Do you participate in the direct mail campaign provided by your consortia?  And then there is the big, bad world of social media.  Oy Vay!  And the list of questions goes on and on.

The reason why you have confusion is that you haven’t established a sequence for developing your marketing plan for your business.  And why would you have done that?  NO ONE is showing you how.

At GIFTE (Gifted Travel Network’s sister company), we teach a very simple sequence to developing your marketing plan.  The best part of the sequence is that it can be tailored to anyone’s business with the purpose of attracting your ideal client.  Your ideal client may not be another’s ideal client.  This framework will work for any service business, not just for those looking to become a travel agent.

Here is the sequence:

Step 1 – Identify your business model.
In other words, identify your revenue sources and make an educated guess at whether you can generate more than enough revenue to cover all expenses, including paying yourself a salary.

Step 2 – Develop your core, compelling message.
People could care less about what you do until they know what’s in it for them.  Your core compelling message is the basis of your branding and what gets people to pay attention to your brand and services amidst the sea of millions of other messages.  Most travel agents skip the step of crafting a compelling message and focus on selling the features of their services, not the benefits, results and solution.  Well I have news for you…people don’t buy products or services, they buy solutions.  Your core compelling message is how you articulate the benefits, results and solutions of your services through your marketing such that you attract your ideal client like a magnet.

Step 3 – Establish your marketing foundation.
Now that you have a compelling message, it’s time to sprinkle it all over your marketing pieces.  Your marketing foundation is the marketing pieces that you develop once and refer back to again and again.  It’s your business’ name (and tagline), your logo, your business card, your website, etc.  At GIFTE, we highly recommend you use the services of a professional in designing these.  You don’t want a home made look as you will only attract do it yourself type of clients.

Step 4:  Put in place your marketing systems.   
A fundamental theory taught at GIFTE is that to attract a consistent pipeline of ideal prospects, you must have 2 types of marketing systems in place:  1) List Building and 2) Relationship Building.  A list building marketing system is any marketing activity that results in a name and email of your ideal prospect getting added to your “list.”  Examples of list building activities include exhibiting at a bridal show, networking, speaking, and Facebook ads.

Relationship building systems are the marketing activities that result in engaging with the prospects who are already on your list.  Once you get someone on your list, you have to start a conversation with them so you can develop a relationship with them over time.  The best way to do that is through email sequences and/or a weekly electronic newsletter.  The most important component in those email sequences is to provide valuable content.  Why?  Because you are attempting to establish yourself as an expert and build trust.  Your prospects will do business with you if they “know, like and trust” you.

The one-two punch of list building systems and relationship building systems is the single most effective way to grow your business quickly.  One without the other is futile.

So now that you have the clear steps to developing a solid marketing plan to attract all the ideal clients you want, are you going to do it?  What do you have to lose?  If you want clear, step by step direction in HOW to do it, then I recommend you check out GTN’s  Travel MBA program, www.getyourtravelmba.com.  And I promise, it will feel great when you put your focus on developing your marketing plan.  Have fun with it!

By Meredith Hill