Chances are, if you are reading this blog post you clicked on a link on either Facebook or Twitter. That post that you saw, was an ad, so in other words it was social marketing. And this blog post, is part of our content marketing effort.
Doesn’t sound very nice when I put it like that, I know, but it is the truth. Now, I enjoy writing and posting on the blog, so don’t get me wrong. I’m in no way trying to fool you in any way, or trying to trick you into buying something you don’t want. But I would like for you to check out our blog, and maybe become a little bit interested in what we do, research on what kind of service we provide. I would be extremely happy if this post was so good that you share it with your peers, and spread the word that there is this Swedish company called HappyBooking that looks interesting. The end goal is to generate more visitors to our webpage and in the second stage, generate new happy customers using our system.
Marketing is difficult, really difficult. There is no perfect way to do it, there’s a lot of different channels where you can try to find new customers, generate leads. As a start up, you can’t afford huge marketing campaigns either so you have to be creative. Content marketing is a way that has exploded recently. If you can share quality content, people will read it and be interested. It turns out, people still enjoy reading and learning new things, not just browsing quickly through Instagram and Twitter.
As a startup founder you have to constantly learn new things, get things done even when you have little to no knowledge of the subject beforehand. Personally, that is what I love with this job. And the newest subject I’m learning is marketing.
While studying this subject I constantly think about our target market, the small to mid-sized hotels and hostels and the struggles they are facing with competing with the larger brands. I started thinking about a hotelier we met earlier this year in Blackpool, UK. His hotel wasn’t a five-star establishment, not even close. But his extremely personal service is something no large hotel could compete with, due to the sheer number of guests a larger facility has. The man lived in the hotel with his wife and they did everything themselves. He cooked us breakfast, poured us a Guinness in the evening and asked us about our day. It felt like we became friends during our short stay.
He talked about things that has happened in the neighborhood during the years, guests he has had previously that were interesting. And it dawned on me, that this is the unique selling point of a smaller hotel. It is a totally different experience - that many people love.
But looking at the marketing efforts of smaller hotels, it’s very slim. They are placing their bets on repeat customers, word of mouth and low pricing. The websites are usually badly maintained and old, and all marketing efforts that cost money are ignored since the return on the investment is difficult to calculate or even guess.
The storytelling aspect of their marketing efforts could probably be improved by a factor of ten. You shouldn’t just visit these hotels because they are cheap, but because you will get a unique experience. But how can you know what kind of experience it will be beforehand? Maybe the web pages of these hotels should be more personal, more about the hotelier or people running the hotel. Maybe have a blog with some posts with these stories that you get to hear over a nice pint. If you think about it, this is almost what AirBnB is trying to do, focus on the experience, the host and the personal touch. And they are succeeding very well. It can’t be impossible to steal some of their ideas and implement them in a slightly different way for a commercial hotel, can it?
Let me hear your thoughts on this, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe I’ll do a follow-up on this post in a month or two.
PS. The image in this post is one that I took myself from Blackpool, a hotel that didn't make it.
The first part of the CTO:s blog posts can be found here.