By Jennifer Nagy, President of JLNPR Inc.
There are literally hundreds of articles on every hotel industry news source about how hotels can improve their marketing to potential guests, increase their ROI, secure more customers, etc. Unfortunately for vendors that are marketing their product or service to hotels, there is much less information available on effective B2B marketing tactics. That’s where I come in…
My agency specializes in PR and marketing for B2B travel technology companies so I’m here to share my top seven tips for more effective B2B marketing. (Keep in mind, these tips can also be implemented by suppliers offering other B2B products/services to hotels!) Part One of the article series offers tips on how to use public relations and content marketing to promote your B2B company, and Part Two (which will be running in this same space next week), will cover the last four highly effective B2B marketing tactics.
I have seen the phenomenal impact that PR can have firsthand, especially for a start-up B2B brand. Because there are often many other competitors offering similar products within the same marketplace, credibility and brand recognition are hugely important to hotels when shopping for your product or service. When shopping for a vendor, most hoteliers will start researching the companies that they already know and trust. If hoteliers aren’t familiar with any suppliers, most will look for recommendations from trusted third parties.
Well, that is exactly what PR is – an endorsement from a journalist, who are known to be required to adhere to strict ethical standards in terms of accurate, fact-based reporting. This type of endorsement (especially if your company has secured many placements in a variety of trade industry publications) will ensure that your company is at the top of the shopping list when hotels start searching for a new supplier.
Content, Content, Content
Unlike many other industries, the hotel trade media market presents many different opportunities for exposure. While some publications do publish their own original content written by their reporters, many (especially the online publications) are willing to publish articles written by guest authors.
A very successful marketing strategy for B2B vendors is to write regular content and supply it to media outlets on topics related to your area of expertise. The articles should be how-to articles (or similar) that provide hoteliers with easy-to-execute tips on how to improve their operations, increase occupancy/revenue, etc. – focus on any specific benefits that are provided by your product or service. For example, if your company sells revenue management technology, you could write articles about how hotels can improve their revenue management strategies to increase bookings and revenue, how hotels can use technology to up their revenue management game, the components of an effective RMS, etc. There is literally no limit to the type of educational content that you can provide to your potential customers via the hotel trade media outlets.
A huge caveat is that your articles cannot be self-promotional. All articles published (free of cost) with the hotel trade publications must be vendor neutral. Other than your company name in your byline and a boilerplate (an about the company section at the bottom of the article), there can be no mention of your company or your products by name in the article.
Over time, hotels will begin to realize that the content that they find so helpful regularly comes from your company and will do more research into what you’re offering. This creates brand recognition and positions your company as an expert in the hotel industry – and specifically, in the area of the industry in which you offer products or services. When a hotel is shopping for the products or services that you offer, their brand recognition will put your company at the front of their list of vendors.
Once the initial information request is made by a potential customer, there is another important benefit from PR: the sales cycle will also be shortened drastically because the potential client already knows your level of expertise and trusts your company (because of the high-quality educational articles that you’ve had published).
In order to create the most visibility from your PR articles, all articles should be posted on your company’s blog (on your website) and shared via your social media sites.
Your blog should also be used to share informational articles from other sources (never your competitors!) as additional resources for potential customers to learn about your industry. The goal is to make your blog a destination for hotels to learn about all aspects of running a successful hotel, including your specific area of expertise. With regular updates and with consistency, potential clients will know to come back to your blog to find out about the latest tips and information that you are sharing.
Of course, you should share some promotional type material on your blog, but it should never account for more than 30% of your content, should be shared sparingly and should never be posted consecutively [with other promotional posts]. Good content to share on your blog about your company includes updates about new products, services, upgrades to any current products, new clients, other company news, sales or other promotions being offered, etc.
If you have any questions about any of the first three B2B marketing strategies please contact me at [email protected].
Finally, make sure that you follow this space next week to read Part Two of the article, which will examine the final four tips for effective B2B marketing to the hotel industry. See you next week!