If your hotel, resort or hospitality-related business is struggling to turn Facebook fans into booked rooms, you’re not alone. But getting it done is easier than you think.
After a year of interviewing businesses successfully selling with social media, I found the common thread: Giving customers a reason to offer more than a “like.” The trick is to use Facebook to discover customers’ hidden desires. Because once you’ve found customers’ itches, scratching them in ways that occasionally connect with products and services is a snap.
Step 1: Get Back to Basics
You’ve probably heard that posting a certain number of times, on certain subjects, on certain days or getting re-tweeted is the key that unlocks sales with Facebook. But it’s simply not true. The real secret is getting back to basics. This means helping customers get in better touch with desires and needs they may not realize they have—yet.
Everyone knows you’ve got to listen to customers using social media. But it’s what you listen for and how you respond that makes the difference. For instance, why do time share marketers pay prospective customers to attend workshops? Because helping people get a better, clearer understanding of what they really want when they go on vacation goals is powerful. And that’s what those workshops do.
Literally putting prospects on a vacation puts buyers’ minds in a place that lets them realize and express true desire. They allow you to respond, ultimately qualifying them as leads. Social media works the same way if you let it; if you just get back to basics.
Step 2: Create Leads with Engagement
Most social media strategies are merely occupying customers time rather than courting them for business. Friends, fans and followers must become a lead if they’re to ultimately book a date. Your challenge is to help customers discover and express deep desires—the real decision points. Not to get re-tweeted or be engaging.
Helping customers discover their deepest, motivational desires gives everyone a chance to share information (engage) in ways that lets customers navigate toward your products and services. Everything you do on Facebook, YouTube, blogs should support this goal.
Bottom line: the only way to create leads with content is to have a engagement plan that is designed to produce it. You need a simple map where each piece of content you produce moves customers down the sales funnel. Let’s discover how to create your leads-focused “social engagement map.”
Step 3: Provoke Response with Traditional Tricks
The most important element of your map is the piece that provokes response from customers. The good news is social media is inherently able to showcase or recreate the emotional end benefits of your product in a powerful, cost effective way.
For instance, let’s say you need to generate inbound inquiries for your travel product or hospitality service. You need to provoke responses from prospects where they call, email, show up at a retail location or sign-up (for a contest). The key is engaging customers in ways where they get closer to experiencing a “desirable unknown.” To do this, simply dramatize the emotional end benefit and get them to share their purchase intent with a call to action.
Many hotels, tour operators, rental groups and resorts are “ethically bribing” members with promotions and that’s still a reliable, effective trick. Yet others are using video scratch customers itches in ways that trigger responses to toll-free numbers and Web sites.
Case in point: Ryan Safady operates the country’s largest luxury rental business, Imagine Lifestyles. Notice how he sells the emotional end benefit in a way you can almost feel. This video lets viewers ride along with an “average Joe” customer named Eric as he learns how to drive a Lamborghini for the first time. Notice how you can feel Eric’s excitement and honest nervousness as he begins his experience. You feel for him, can almost sense what’s coming next for him.
Ryan’s videos are designed to:
- Plant a seed (you can experience this too)
- Dramatize, “make real” the emotional end benefit of a service that sells nothing but new ways to experience positive emotions
- Generate a response (a sign-up for the Imagine Lifestyles blog in this case)
What is your social media marketing designed to do?
Ask yourself, “What emotionally compelling stories can we be telling to attract and hook prospects over time? What kinds of stories does our target market want, appreciate, enjoy, and actively share? And how can we integrate subtle calls to action into stories that plant seeds in minds of customers and/or provoke immediate responses?”