Content marketing without the actual act of marketing is just creating content – it’s simply contributing more noise to the Web. …… — Jon Ball on Search Engine Watch
What Not To Do
The quote in the heading and the one above together give a great framework for content marketing. Before I start to put my spin on the topic, let me tell you a short story about a client I had last year. I received an inquiry to write five articles for a new scuba diving website. The site was for a newly opened dive resort with a website just being launched a few months after the resort opened. I was given the topics and the keywords to use. The article topics were very general as were the keywords. Topics such as what to look for “Buying your first wetsuit” and “How to improve your breathing to dive longer” (the keywords for that seem more appropriate for free divers). When I asked about the target audience I was just told scuba divers. After I completed the assignment, and they were posted to the website, I asked the owner how he came to those topics. I was told that he had hired a web designer to design his website and to drive visitors to the site. There were a few critical mistakes in his approach in my opinion.
- First the focus of the business and the web developer were different. The web developer was looking for high search keywords and disregarded the competition factor for those words. The developer also did not see that the keywords, even if remotely successful, would not be bringing in readers looking for a dive resort. I would say that the developer lack of understanding of the scuba industry.
- The second glaring error was the content of the site itself. The scuba diving page was very generic and read like a 1960s travel brochure. A lot of pretty words but no substance. No mention of dive sites, no mention of how many dive boats, nothing about instructor qualifications, no courses offer, just a broad statement about scuba diving. The last sentence even said: “There is night diving IF you are brave enough.” To sum it up no diving information to help convert to a reservation. The accommodation page again seem out of the 1960s, flowery words but not hint of size, type of beds or other facilities.
- His third error, and what lead to the other two happening, was he had no content plan. He did not know how to focus his content and had no plans on marketing his content. Just put it up and wait was the plan.
Okay, now my spin on what content marketing is
Okay, now my spin on what content marketing is and why if you are in the travel or diving industry you need a specialist.
The concept of content marketing is very broad and is difficult to qualify on a short webpage. As the two quotes stated, you need content that is focused on your target audience, focused on your goals and marketed so others will see. Your content must be coordinated in a manner that gives the best benefits. Great articles are useless if your website is so confusing that potential clients get frustrated trying to make a purchase. Getting hundreds of visitors to your site each day is great but only if the web visitors are within your target audience, an audience that will make a reservation or inquiry. If you have an over 80% bounce rate, your content is worthless.
Your overall marketing plan needs to include a content marketing plan. One that addresses how your content will be used and tied to the goals of your company.
As I have mention elsewhere on this website, I do not believe that the average general writer can produce even good copy within our industries. We market products that have a definite and limited shelve life. Today’s empty room or that empty berth on the dive live aboard that sailed today cannot be sold tomorrow. We have a product that is also a service and both elements must be balanced. That brings up another point that needs to be address in your content marketing plan, Reputation management. Word of mouth advertising has always been a major factor in hospitality marketing.
The internet expands that word of mouth method beyond a circle of friends and relatives. Reviews on sites like trip advisor and hotel booking engines allows an upset client the means to advertise their dissatisfaction to the entire world. Your business plan or content marketing plan needs to have a strategy in place not only to react to a bad review but to find them in the first place as well.
Beyond that, while our “product” stays the same all year, the market changes. We may also have a few different niche markets within our target audience. The target audience may even change by season. College students at spring break may become families and school teachers during the summer and empty nesters in the fall. Same resort, different niches. When it comes to scuba diving content, quality is very important. Divers are looking for safe die operations when they are searching the internet for a dive resort. Sloppy inconsistent content might leave the impression that you operate your dives in the same manner.
If your hotel, resort or dive center does not have a marketing plan with a complete content marketing section, then we should discuss what your short and long term needs are. Developing and implementing a content marketing plan is not a quick one hour job. It takes a study of your operation and goals, your market, and how you want to be seen in the industry. Generating content without a clear goal is like bragging you are making good time on a trip but you are not sure if your headed to the right city.