Destination Marketers: Turn Facebook Fans to Paying Customers

Destination marketers like hotels, resorts, tour operators or even airlines and travel-related businesses can convert Facebook fans to paying customers right now—and have fun doing it. After a year of interviewing the best social media sellers in the world I discovered a secret: giving customers a reason to offer more than a “like” creates leads and sales.

Destination marketers like hotels, resorts, tour operators or even airlines and travel-related businesses can convert Facebook fans to paying customers right now—and have fun doing it. After a year of interviewing the best social media sellers in the world I discovered a secret: giving customers a reason to offer more than a “like” creates leads and sales.

You can do this too if you start using Facebook to generate questions that your destination, service or venue gives answers to. Just start focusing your everyday efforts on solving problems for event planners and/or travelers. It’s that simple.

As it turns out what you already know works (before social media arrived) is the key to success.

The Gurus Were Wrong
Social media gurus claim that posting a certain number of times, on certain subjects, on certain days is the key that unlocks leads and sales on Facebook. Yes, tactical skills are essential to have but earning a customer’s business (whether it’s an event planner or vacation traveler) demands focus on their specific needs—not technical wizardry.

The true secret is getting back to basics and that means solving customers’ problems.

Forget about destination marketing for a moment. Harris-Teeter, a grocery store and pharmacy, pays customers to ask its dietician health-related questions on Facebook. Why would a grocer—or your organization—do that? Because helping customers put out a fire, right on the spot, is powerful. Answering burning questions opens the door to make a suggestion. It can be a friendly tip or useful trick or, if appropriate, outline benefits of selecting your venue or taking a FAM trip.

Solving problems for customers is not a new idea. It’s what your business likely does each day “offline” and that’s powerful.

Hand Out Candy to Create Response
Getting back to basics on Facebook, blogs, YouTube and other social media works but only if you provoke responses from your target market. Everything you put “out there” on social media—your updates, posts, tweets—must be designed to generate a behavioral response from your buyer. That means planning a bit before you for instance publish your next blog post or Facebook update.

Think of it this way: Want to generate more inbound inquiries or FAM tours? If so, your job is to provoke responses from your buyers. The key here is sharing useful, original (previously unknown) knowledge with buyers in exchange for understanding where they are in the buying process. In other words, entice them with something ridiculously valuable about your destination or property and generate a lead.

Ask yourself:

  1. What do most buyers not know about our destination/property that is honestly opportunistic given their specific need?
  2. How can we help event planners avoid unnecessary risks? Can we help them avoid risks they don’t even know they have yet?

The idea is to start showing customers opportunities they’ve never seen before or providing solutions to problems they don’t yet know they have. That’s the candy. That’s how you can become truly provocative and earn leads. The trick is showing customers ways to capitalize on opportunities and solve problems that ultimately connect to your venue.

Think of it like making everything you do on Facebook, YouTube or a blog scratch meeting planners’ or travelers’ itches.

That’s when the fun begins. Once you’ve identified the candy you’ll hand out think of a way you can highlight the value your location adds (to your buyers’ life) in ways that scratch that itch for the buyer using a blog, Facebook or YouTube.

Give Customers a Reason to Move Toward Transacting
So just remember to make everything you do on social media help event planners or travelers’ solve problems or aid them in getting something important done.

Here are tips on getting started:

• Change it up: Resist asking, “What should we be doing with Facebook?” Rather, ask “How can Facebook make what we already do for event planners better?”

Talk to me: Give your buyers a reason why they need to think about something important to them in powerful new way that gives them a reason to talk to you … so they can more clearly understand what you just provoked.

Make it easy: Use contests, calls to action, bold statements—do what it takes to prompt a reaction and make it easy for buyers to qualify themselves as leads.

Re-purpose content: Are you already helping buyers put out fires or do more with less? How? Where? Collect and organize this information using simple, accessible tools like a blog. Consider ways to prompt event planners within Facebook to visit your blog, induce a response and capture a lead.

Good luck!

Generate Leads With Social Media by Provoking Thought, Not Leading It

Why is it so difficult to generate sales leads using social media? Probably because we’re all busy creating “quality content” (whatever that is!) rather than designing content to generate leads. At the risk of my wife divorcing me, I decided to take a year off and find out how businesses who actually are quietly succeeding with social media are doing it. A year’s worth of research confirmed my suspicions about the so-called “social media revolution” and revealed an exciting opportunity: A chance for more B-to-B and B-to-C marketers to generate tangible business leads and sales using tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and video.

Why is it so difficult to generate sales leads using social media? Probably because we’re all busy creating “quality content” (whatever that is!) rather than designing content to generate leads. At the risk of my wife divorcing me, I decided to take a year off and find out how businesses who actually are quietly succeeding with social media are doing it. A year’s worth of research confirmed my suspicions about the so-called “social media revolution” and revealed an exciting opportunity: A chance for more B-to-B and B-to-C marketers to generate tangible business leads and sales using tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and video.

The secret is now revealed: Selling with social media requires shifting the paradigm away from being thought leaders and toward being thought provokers.

These Brands Are Making Social Media Sell
My research revealed how people like Laura Messerschmitt of Intuit are convincing more and more customers to sign up for the Online Payroll product. I learned how investment and property management firm, Jones Lang LaSalle is generating tangible leads on seven-figure commercial real estate deals using YouTube. I discovered how Wisconsin’s AnchorBank and the Queensland Teachers’ Credit Union are increasing share of customers’ wallet and acquiring new customers at record pace.

This Is How They’re Doing it
What’s their secret? Turning friends, followers and content into sales, leads and subscribers means solving customers’ problems in ways that nurtures demand for larger solutions. These companies are helping customers gain clarity on complex problems and then leveraging that clarity. How? By answering questions in ways that make it increasingly rewarding for customers to take action, identify themselves as a lead.

Selling with social media demands brands become thought provokers, not just thought leaders.

Design to Sell, Become Addictive
Successful social sellers know: Engagement is not an outcome. It’s an opportunity to create response. But not by chance. Engagement must invite customers’ questions and respond to it in a deliberate way, as part of a social media-driven direct response marketing plan. This design gathers up customers’ itches (problems), scratches them (gives answers) in yet in incomplete ways. Holding back on providing the full solution is key.

The formula is incredibly close to the illegal narcotics trade. You give customers’ a sample providing momentary satisfaction, but not enough for the desire to be completely sated. In other words, here… have a little bit. You will feel something that you’ll enjoy but it won’t be enough, you’ll want to have more of it. In order to have more you’re going to have to talk to me—and you may even find yourself wanting to buy some from me!

Today’s true thought leaders are thought provokers. They are putting interesting, valuable, addictive thoughts “out there” in ways that prompt customers to ask for more, more often.

Take Action
Make social media sell. Ask yourself: are you giving customers a reason to talk to you on LinkedIn? Are your blogs so bold they provoke action? Does your content marketing strategy show customers ways to avoid risks they don’t yet know they have? Do your YouTube videos or white papers reveal hidden opportunity? Are your campaigns designed so that customers will contact you—so they your team can help them more clearly understand what you just provoked?