Timing Your Small Town Tourism Marketing in the Age of Social Media

by Joanne Steele on September 2, 2010

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It’s September and for many small towns, everything has slowed down considerably. Last year at this time I gave you some suggestions for pumping up your September business:  Marketing First Aid: 6 Things To Do When September Tourism Business Drops Off a Cliff.

This year your business might not have taken quite the September nose dive it has done during past seasonal changes. IF you’ve gotten with the program and jumped on the Internet marketing bandwagon.

Here’s why:

1. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media sites we’ve talked about, your info is before your potential customers constantly. How can they forget you when you welcome them several times a week with helpful information and inviting offers??

2. If you’ve gotten yourself an easy to update website that speaks to your customers’ needs and desires, they’re out there finding you online rather than you having to constantly remember to hunt for them.

3. If you’ve linked up with complimentary businesses online, people are running into your links and clicking through to your site exactly when their interest in what you do is highest.

4. If you have profiles on the major review sites and directories, your business name seems to pop up for your customers’ relevant online searches. You’re making  a real name for yourself!!

So, How has Social Media Affected Timing of Small Town Tourism Marketing?

It’s speeded everything up, which is great for you.

Remember when you needed to get press releases out four to six months in advance to get mentioned in a magazine? Remember when you started thinking about your Christmas promotions in June to make the best advertising buys? Remember when the summer visitors’ guides wanted your money and information in January?

No more!

Here are some examples of The New Timing for Small Town Tourism Marketing:

Because you’re able to market directly to your customers, you don’t have to submit to intermediaries months in advance. You post info yourself on your website and all our online outposts (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare etc.)

You can publish your own press releases online. Create new coupons and announcements on your directory listings at exactly the time your customers are thinking about the holiday or event.

You can make a new page on your website about seasonal offerings or events and make sure it’s well optimized to be easily discovered.

There is still a place in your marketing plan for traditional outlets.

Don’t forget those deadlines.

Regional print and online events calendars still have “set in stone” deadlines. Honor them. People are still referencing those tried and true regional magazines and online calendars.

Do your homework and if you are certain that a visitors’ guide or print advertising option is reaching your customers as well as online marketing, be ready to make their deadline.

We’re in a time of transition. Many people, perhaps your own customers, still use some traditional sources of information for making travel and buying decisions. You know your customers well. If they’re there, so should you be.

On the other hand, don’t let your own Internet usage habits determine how you market. Access to broadband in rural areas has caused many of us to be a bit behind the eight ball. Your customers in urban areas are not.

In British Columbia last spring I met the owner of Rover’s Rest B&B who goes to great lengths to market her B&B online even though her Internet connection is beastly slow. She knows her customers and understands that she needs to be online even if it means driving into town to update her Facebook page.

“So, what’s the good news?” you might be asking.

All that hard work you did this year to get your Internet presence up and running will pay off now.

Forgot to order Christmas advertising? Fine – do it online in a month.

Forgot to get that press release in for your spring season opening? (yup, in the olden days we needed to do that now) Wait til  January and post it online and link it to your website, Facebook page, and everywhere else you have an online outpost.

Here are some online press release sources. Some are free, others you pay for.

If you are still building your online presence, realize that this new easier to manage marketing schedule is your future reward.

Thanks to Matti Mattila on Flickr for the great Santa photo

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