New Year resolutions are always set with great intentions, however, how many are kept for longer than two weeks into the month of January? asks Andrew White.
It’s been said that it takes anywhere from 21 days to form or break a habit, therefore the month of January doesn’t really give a long enough opportunity to reboot the mindset. And as you are reading this heading into February, you’ve either ticked off a month without meat or booze or you just couldn’t quite get there.
Marketeers and commercial departments in the hospitality industry used to focus their sales and marketing activities around the national holidays such as Christmas and New Year, Easter and some of the headline traditions such as Valentine’s Day, Mothering Sunday and Father’s Day. This is no longer the case; National Hamburger Day, Afternoon Tea Week, Pride Month, British Food Fortnight are all dates where hospitality and event marketeers are now also trying to find a voice. Add in your local or regional key dates such The Cheltenham Festival 2020, F1 British Grand Prix 2020 or RHS Chatsworth Flower Show and venues have a lot of messages to get out over the year. It’s fortunate that 2020 brings about an extra day in the annual marketing plan.
With so much to shout about, to be social with and to share across different platforms, how can venues be heard and more importantly drive delegate numbers and revenues? My answer would be to: Prioritise, Plan and Publish.
The glut of national days means it’s key to decipher which ones are truly relevant to your organisation, which will drive business, and most importantly, which can be activated?
Your regional headline events should form the backbone of the marketing plan with activity targeted towards driving awareness and business. Large scale local events present enormous opportunities for offshoot events such as private dinners, meetings and accommodation. Dependent on your business needs, the traditional national holidays should feature next and then, and only then, a well curated list of national days.
The days should reflect your brand, after all, why champion national burger day if burgers simply do not feature on your delegate dining menu? And however much you personally love cocktails, National Cocktail Week isn’t relevant unless you have a bar onsite.
There’s a misconception that the media will jump on your story and automatically write about it. The media is interested in ‘new’sworthy stories, ones that impact on the local community and ones that have a human interest angle… essentially ‘new’ information. On the basis that the national press each receive upwards of 1,000 media releases daily (the local media around 200) it’s key that you give pertinent information – not a badly veiled advert.
The key is to plan well ahead and release your information in a timely manner, approximately as follows:
National media – 6 weeks prior for food and travel sections, 1 week prior for news sections
Glossy nationals – At least 3 months prior
Local news – Up to two days before print date
Trade press – 1 month prior
Social media – Start 2–3 weeks before and use the correct #
Information needs to be concise, ‘new’ and with an angle that the target publication will find of interest. Taking part in the Dry January campaign is great but competition will be stiff and just offering a couple of thoughtless non-alcoholic options won’t break headlines. Consider working in partnership with a local alcohol supplier on a unique offering, concoct amazing alcohol-free cocktails using local produce or take inspiration from the big brands – Brewdog offered free re-fills of alcohol free beer throughout January and it went down a storm!
Image is always the big win, therefore make sure you send a high resolution, quality image of what you are promoting. And ensure you have details and costings of the products or dates that you are trying to promote. Journalists will rarely come back to you for information, therefore give them everything they need to do their job.
Ultimately, think about your core values; if you champion sustainability as one of your USPs, then reinforce this message repeatedly throughout the year, not just as a one off.
USPs take time to bed in and will ultimately inform your buyers’ habits far more than a one-off quick hit. It takes anywhere from 21 days to form a habit, and with 366 days in 2020 that equates to just over 17 message you can drive forward. Take out the key national dates and traditions (Christmas, New Year, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mothering Sunday and Father’s Day) and that’s 11 messages to go for, or one a month.
Choose which messages you want to be known for rather than those that will have a quick hit and little effect on your delegate numbers or revenues, then prioritise and plan them in to your annual sales and marketing plan.
Veganuary and Dry January are both great campaigns to kick start the year but make sure to keep the momentum going throughout 2020 to really push those key messages. Get creative and show people how and why your business is worth their time.
About the Author
Andrew White is MD of Triggerfish Communications, a specialist in helping heritage venues and leisure attractions build awareness and market share in the business of events.