Small businesses, especially those in the startup phase, spend a lot of time focusing on how to increase sales. (I mean, rightfully so; after sinking thousands of dollars into developing a brand-spanking new technology solution, who wouldn’t want to start making some of that cash back ASAP?!)
Because of that mindset, most entrepreneurs launch their business with a complete sales strategy established, a team hired to do the legwork and incentive structures established to incentivize their sales staff – which is great; however, in many cases, having a sales strategy AND a great, innovative product isn’t enough to close sales.
Here’s why: hotels can’t buy your technology if they don’t know it exists. No matter how good your sales team is or how innovative your new solution is, it’s impossible.
All companies – but especially start-ups, who are hustling for their first sales – MUST prioritize building awareness of their company and solution in the minds of potential customers (hotels!) because it will, , have a significant positive impact on your sales conversion rate.
Here’s why brand awareness is so effective in boosting your sales conversion rate: if potential customers already know you – either through reading articles written about you by journalists/an educational expert article that you had published in the hotel trade publications or a recommendation/endorsement from an industry expert – they already know that you’re an expert are more likely to trust you and, as a result, more likely to buy from you.
Brand awareness will also shorten your sales cycle because, during a sales pitch, your sales team can skip the ‘getting to know your company’ phase and move right to the important stuff: why the potential customer needs to buy your product, TODAY.
Brand awareness will also create more warm leads. When a potential hotel customer identifies a problem and, as a result, a need (a solution to their problem, obvi!), he/she will go through the Rolodex, in their brain, of experts that they already know who offer the type of solution that they need. Because they already know you, they are more likely to contact you or request a demo to learn more about your product, before Googling to cast a wider net for potential vendors.
Even if the potential customer doesn’t buy from you during the initial call/demo (because they want to investigate other company’s offerings), they are likely to use your solution as a baseline to which they will compare other company’s solutions – and, of course, because yours is the best, by far, in the industry at solving the person’s problem, you WILL CLOSE THE SALE.
Here’s an example…
Imagine that you are a tech vendor, offering an innovative, industry-leading revenue management system (RMS). Let’s make the assumption that your company has been writing expert articles for your blog and various hotel trade publications for years, so your company is already well-known in the industry, at least by name. You have firmly established your company, as an expert in revenue management, in the minds of potential hotel customers.
So, when a hotelier, who has already been reading your articles/following your company, decides that he/she wants to buy an RMS, you’ll be one of, if not, the first company that they will contact/consider and hopefully, buy from.
Or if your sales team contacts a hotelier who has already successfully implemented the revenue management strategies that you’ve recommended in your blog posts – and loved the results, he/she is more likely to respond positively to a sales pitch, even if it’s a cold call… again, because they already trust in your expertise and know that you are a credible company.
Now, do you see why brand awareness is so, so important in a company’s profitability? Great, so let’s move on to the fun stuff… how do you increase your company’s visibility to potential hotel customers, so that you can start turning browsers into buyers?
For technology vendors in the hospitality industry, there’s a simple marketing formula that has been proven, time-after-time, to increase a company’s visibility to hotels and convert more sales:
Public Relations + Content Marketing =
The hospitality industry trade media market is very unique – and its differences are the reason that these two tactics, on their own, are so effective at boosting visibility and sales for tech vendors. Unlike trade (B2B) publications in other industries, many hotel trade publications will publish well-written, educational articles from industry experts, giving your company the opportunity to share your expertise, verbatim, with thousands of hoteliers around the world – without spending a dime.
This fact, alone, is the reason that PR and content marketing are the ONLY marketing tactics necessary for you to increase your company’s visibility with potential hotel customers, and close more sales.
Before I explain why, let’s do a quick recap of what PR and content marketing are so that you have a better understanding of how each, used in combination, can create a dramatic increase in your company’s profitability.
First, what is public relations (PR)?
It is the practice of managing the interaction of your company with its various publics – both internal (i.e. employees, shareholders, investors, etc.) and external (i.e. potential customers, community, etc.).
For technology vendors who are trying to sell their solutions to hotels, the type of public relations that you will be using is media relations, which is focused specifically on communicating the company’s news, key messages, industry expertise and the solution’s unique selling proposition (and MUCH more…) to media to get journalists to write about you/your company/your solution.
To a potential customer, reading an article that mentions your company, or an interview with your company’s spokesperson, is an endorsement of your company or solution by a trusted, third-party expert (the journalist and publication); the result: increased trust in your company.
And of course, more media coverage = more visibility = more sales.
So, that’s PR… now, let’s examine the second piece of the (marketing) puzzle: what is content marketing?
Content marketing involves creating insightful, engaging and interesting content, designed to educate potential customers, build credibility, trust and loyalty, and increase opportunities for future business. In practice, content marketing can use many different types of written copy, including blog posts, expert articles, among many others.
If your end-goal is to close more sales (which, let’s be real, is every company’s goal), the most effective type of written content is expert articles, published by hospitality industry trade media.
Your content marketing outreach helps you to deliver your company’s key messages (i.e. what makes your solution, the best solution?) in EXACTLY the way that you want them delivered (because your expert articles will be published word-for-word, as they were written).
I know… crazy, right?!
By drafting articles that deliver your company’s key messages and indirectly sell your solution, while educating readers (don’t forget to share actionable tips!), your company will build credibility with potential customers, establish a position of expertise and will be perceived as even more trustworthy.
That brings us back to why the hospitality industry trade media market’s differences are so important: if you secure media placements (written by journalists, a.k.a. third-party experts) that feature or mention your company/solution AND successfully publish your expert articles in the top hotel industry trade publications, your visibility will skyrocket.
The increased visibility, the perception of expertise and the strong sense of trust potential customers have in your company WILL increase your conversion rates and help you close more sales – even with cold leads.
So, what do you have to lose… start using PR + content marketing today to CLOSE MORE SALES, MORE OFTEN.
Want to learn more about how to use PR + content marketing to increase your company’s visibility to potential hotel customers, establish your company as an expert in the industry and boost sales?
By Jennifer Nagy, President of JLNPR Inc.