Author Archives: national pen

Best Conferences for College Football Tailgating [Infographic]

Tailgating Infographic HeaderThink you grill the meanest burger, show the most school spirit, or take part in the craziest college football tailgating traditions? Check out The Top Tailgating Conferences in College Football infographic to see how you and your school compare. Whether it’s incorporating regional tailgate food ideas like jambalaya from the SEC, cowboy boots from The Big 12, or custom cups from the ACC, the next game is sure to be a party with these college tailgating tips and ideas.

You can’t have a tailgate without custom swag, and the team at National Pen has you covered! We have all the college tailgate necessities — including coolers, personalized Koozies, chairs and more. So get your game-day gear and announce to the world that your school has the most die-hard fans.

College Football Tailgating Infographic

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5 Holiday Small Business Marketing Strategies for Growth

The influx of holiday decorations popping in stores in early Fall (if not sooner!) makes it known that both big and small businesses think about the holiday season much sooner than the actual holidays on the calendar. And for good reason, people want to feel prepared.

Business Owner Standing Outside of Small Business

By the end of September 2016, 14% of Americans had already started their holiday shopping, and 1 million people were already completely finished with their shopping lists. Holidays retail sales also increased by 4 percent year-over-year in 2016 to reach $658.3 billion spent in November and December, the prime of the holiday season.

Is your business ready to handle the influx of traffic? Do you have strategy to attract new visitors to your store, while also catering to your loyal customers? Do you know how to grow your business activity during the holidays? Here are 5 small business marketing strategies to increase your growth during the busy holiday season.

  1. Expand Your Product Line

    What products will you have ready for sale specifically for the holidays? If you don’t have brand new items to introduce, think about repurposing your most popular items as part of a bundle that’s perfect for gift giving. Or, think about adding a homemade element to your available products. Brainstorm with your team about ways you can use the products you have and make them more relevant for the holiday shopper.

  2. Promote a Stress-Free Zone

    In-store holiday shopping can create quite the frenzy rather than feeling festive. Create a mini stress-free zone in your store complete with coloring books, colored pencils, stress relief balls, and fidget spinners. Set up a table with refreshments inviting guests to sit down and take a few minutes to relax or let them take a stress relief item with them to go. This will invite people to linger in your store longer and find an extra benefit of adding your store on the must-visit list.

    Woman Doing Holiday Shopping Online

  3. Sell Through Different Channels

    While brick-and-mortar stores should take full advantage of the additional foot traffic thanks to holiday sales, don’t forget about promotion on your social media channels and via email as well. Set up a small business marketing strategy to keep customer constantly engaged throughout (and beyond) the holiday season. Ideas might include a countdown to savings promotion where each day a new offer is revealed on your Facebook or Instagram page. Make sure your communication aligns both online and offline to avoid confusion, meaning if you’re selling an item for 25% off in an email campaign, confirm if it’s exclusive to online shoppers or if it will be honored in-store as well.

  4. Host a Holiday Event

    Small Business Saturday is the biggest day of the shopping year for small businesses, but don’t miss out on other opportunities to get your products in front of a larger crowd. Research fairs, festivals, and pop-up shops in your city and set up a booth or co-sponsor an event to draw more people to your business. Customize a business banner special for the event and set up a table that will entice people to stop by. Holiday-themed treats, swag bags, and an eye-catching setup are all good ideas to attract shoppers.

    Even if people can’t make the event, it still puts your brand front and center when they’re thinking about their holiday shopping lists. The goal is to get more people to your store to buy your products, but it may not be from a singular communication. An invitation to a fun event is one way to draw attention to your business during the busy season.

    Small Business Storefront with Holiday Sale

  5. Have a Sale

    This business strategy continues to work because everyone loves a sale. This is especially effective if you are in direct competition with other small businesses around you. If you are selling similar products, what aspects will help you stand out? Most likely it’s going to be lower costs. Having a sale can also be a strategic way for you to make room for new inventory once the holidays are over.

Using Small Business Marketing for the Holidays

When it comes to business strategies for small businesses, the unique aspects of your business that will make the most difference. What do you have to offer that your competitors don’t? What will make you stand out this holiday season? Discuss these strategies with your team, and decide how to grow your business by applying them and making the them work for you. Stock up on customized merchandise today to help power you through the holiday season – and the days of holiday shopping leading up to it!

Tricks of the Tradeshow: Gimmick-Free Trade Show Tips

Winter is coming – and with that come the last quarter, end-of-the-year trade shows. On average, businesses attend 22 regional trade shows and 14 national trade shows every year. Rather than fight the fatigue of conference and trade show overload, embrace it and make it a successful wrap up to 2017.People Walking Through Tradeshow HallBy now, you and your team may be tradeshow pros, but it never hurts to have a refresh to deliver your best impression and make your attendance a success. You don’t have to rely on all the flashy gimmicks or over-the-top presentations. Stick to what’s worked in the past and amplify it. Give tradeshow attendees an experience that is engaging, educational, and entertaining.

Here are three areas to cover before you set out on your final work conferences of the year and trade show best practices, tips and tricks to keep in mind and take into 2018.

Review Booth Etiquette

First impressions are everything, which is why your team must be on top of their game with every work conference. Even if people are casually walking by your booth, it doesn’t create a good impression if everyone has their head down distracted by their phones or computers.

  • Conduct staff training pre-conference.

    One way to prepare for upcoming events is by conducting role play of possible interactions with customers or potential clients. This will help your team feel more confident in how to address questions and represent your company in the right way. Also, schedule staff training whenever someone new is added to the conference travel team. Don’t miss the opportunity to put your best professional face forward.

  • Finalize dinners and event sponsorships.

    Coordinate how you will be connecting with your audience beyond the conference room floor. Is there value in becoming a sponsor of the conference or hosting a special happy hour or dinner with select attendees? When reviewing your fourth quarter budget, creating a more personalized experience [link to personalized experience blog] can help you stand apart from the competition.

People Manning a Tradeshow Booth

Update Tradeshow Booth Display

Your tradeshow booth setup is the first thing conference guests will see. Ensure your visual display is as eye-catching and interesting as your product or service. A poorly designed tradeshow both may indicate to a passersby that your team is unprepared or uninteresting. Visually engage visitors with well-planned trade show displays for the ultimate experience.

  • Finalize tradeshow booth additions.

    The shell of your trade show displays and all the supplies you need for setup should be ready to go, so now’s the time to add the final touches. This can include a new customized banner, updated business cards, or swag bags filled with additional personalized items to provide value for anyone who stops by your booth. Visualize the setup and create a checklist to ensure all items make it to the show.

  • Confirm shipping arrival dates.

    With any trade show, there is always last-minute inclusions or swap outs that need to make it to your final destination. Check the shipping schedule deadlines to ensure all your equipment and furniture make it to where it needs to go. If you are taking your own transportation to the show, use your checklist when packing up your vehicle.

Implement Guest Interaction Trade Show Best Practices

The way you talk with your co-workers is usually far different from how you would interact with work conference guests. Here are trade show best practices to keep in mind and relay to your team when it comes to guest interaction:

  • Friendly is key – but exude extra professionalism.

    Most tradeshow attendees are meeting you for the first time and may not relate to your sense of humor or jargon.

  • Maintain personal space.

    Although the excitement of the trade show floor can be contagious, make sure you are presenting a welcoming vibe rather than an overbearing one.

  • Introduce yourself.

    This may seem obvious but initiate a connection by introducing yourself and your company position.

  • Don’t do all the talking.

    While you may feel like you need to get as much information out as possible, take time to reflect on what those who stop by your display are saying or asking.

Expo Hall Visitors Walking to Next Exhibit

Trade Show Tips and Tricks for Success

  1. Make sure your freebies serve a purpose.

    Conference swag is a staple of the showroom floor, but is the trade show merchandise you’re giving away providing value? As an example, since winter is the height of cold season, attendees will likely be extra appreciative of hand sanitizer freebies, which you can customize with your business name.

  2. Create an interactive booth space.

    The tradeshow floor is all about interactions, so make your trade show displays inviting by offering an element that makes people want to stop by. Whether it’s a prize wheel, scratch-off giveaway, or mobile device setup to demonstrate your product/service, people don’t want to see what you have to offer. They want to experience it.

  3. Focus on quality over quantity.

    In some instances, it’s not about sharing a laundry list of everything your company provides. It could be an introduction of one new product/service. It can be focusing on one new feature or a special exclusive to tradeshow attendees. Gauge your audience per conference, and select the best of the best of what your company has to offer.

As you finalize your trade show strategy for the rest of 2017 and the upcoming winter conferences, remember to keep the experience authentic and gimmick-free.

Shop Trade Show Merchandise

Why Personalized Marketing is Essential for Small Business

Small businesses typically do not have the budget, manpower, or resources that bigger businesses have. However, if you’re a small business, you can make up for this by adding marketing personalization to your efforts.Group of People Receiving Personalized Marketing MessagesWhether your customers are visiting you online or in-person, they are looking for a personal experience when shopping. What current efforts do you have in place that speaks to your target audience’s specific needs and wants? How are you making it personal for them?

According to research conducted by Infosys, 86% of shoppers say marketing personalization has at least some impact on what they purchase with 25% revealing that personalization significantly influences what they purchase. That’s a large chunk of customers you might be missing out on simply because you aren’t adding a personal touch to your small business marketing. Not to worry, you can fix this and update your strategies just in time for the busiest shopping days of the year!

  1. Personalize Your Message

    Think about who you are trying to connect with before launching your next marketing campaign. If you identify targeted audiences you think will find value in your products, you can better position your messaging to speak directly to them.

    For example, if you are in the salon business, maybe one of your targeted audiences is the stressed out parent who needs to take time for themselves during the hectic, end-of-the-year season. Alternatively, if you sell insurance, maybe your messaging is geared toward parents who want to protect their families.

    Rather than thinking in terms of buying and selling, think in terms of providing answers to questions and solutions to problems. When you take the “business” aspect out of the equation for a minute and hone in on what your customers need, you’ll find personalized marketing strategies come more naturally. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • Include the recipient’s first name in each email campaign you send out.
    • Include language that speaks to how a person is feeling across all your marketing copy.

      Examples: “Feeling stressed out? Let a [salon service] help you relax.” or “Protect the most precious commodity you have – your family –  with [personalized business products for insurance].”

    • Segment your audiences and send promotions most relevant to them.

      Of the hundreds of ads your customers will see this holiday season, an offer specifically catering to their interests is the one that will produce the positive results you’re looking for.

    Personalized messaging is essential so you can target different audience segments with the products or services they need most rather than taking a one-size-fits all approach that misses the mark.Man Shaking Hands with Trade Show Attendees

  2. Personalize the Trade Show Experience

    One of the biggest advantages of attending trade shows or open market events is the opportunity to speak one-to-one with customers who are already familiar with your brand and those who are new to your products and services. While your physical presence already makes the interaction more personal, this is an opportunity to further personalize your company, small business products, and services in way that leaves a lasting impression.

    Make the most of your end-of-the-year trade shows while preparing for the upcoming season. Also, local vendor festivals and holiday markets are popular this time of year. Add a personal touch no matter which events you decide to attend to better connect with your audience and make your brand memorable.

    • Show instead of tell.

      Set up a product demo, if applicable. Even if you’re in the business of selling a service rather than a tangible product, guide attendees through the process. Show how simple, convenient, and valuable it is.

    • Create a welcoming space.

      Host a raffle or free giveaways with personalized marketing products at your trade show booth. It will entice people to stop by and chat with you longer while boosting your brand’s visibility.

    • Know your audience.

      A convention-style trade show has a different vibe and different expectations than a local vendor show. Adjust your “presentation” to accommodate the audience you are going to be talking to.

    Personalizing the trade show or vendor market experience is essential to connect with new audiences who may not have as much familiarity with your brand.

  3. Small Business Owner Putting Together a Marketing Personalization Strategy

  4. Personalize Your Merchandise

    Decide what makes your brand memorable. When you’re a small business, it’s all about making the personal connection to encourage loyalty from customers. As Small Business Saturday creeps up, create personalized business products and create ways for people to interact with your business in a fun and engaging way.

    • Personalize tote bags emblazoned with your logo, company name, or tagline.

      Fill it with local treats, coupons, and other small items that won’t make your budget suffer and will make your shopper feel special. You can also use this giveaway as messaging to direct your online audience (via email or social media) to your physical store. “First 25 customers to visit us this Saturday will receive a free tote bag full of goodies.”

    • Customize a banner and host a pop-up shop.

      If you’re hosting an event somewhere other than your store, you’ll want the brand recognition to remain with you.

    • Create a direct mail campaign with branded stress relief products.

      Stress is common among the holidays, so why not address it in a fun way and offer your customers a promotion or offer at the same time.

    Personalized marketing through merchandise is essential to strengthen your brand presence in the market and help create loyal customers through a genuine connection.

    Small Business Personalized Marketing Strategies

    This holiday season, create a marketing personalization list and check it twice to ensure you are providing a special shopping experience for every person who interacts with your business. You can achieve this by personalizing your messaging, the trade show experience, and your merchandise.

    Continue this one-to-one connection through your interactions online, over the phone, and in-person. Rather than the one-and-done shopper, you’ll find with marketing personalization, you’re more likely to create customer loyalty for a lifetime.

Personal Mid-Year Review: How to Finish the Year Strong

The end of 2017 is quickly approaching and what do you and your company have to show for it? Have you met the goals you’ve aimed to achieve? Have you improved your branding efforts throughout the year? And, have you made the changes needed to make a significant difference both internally and to your client base?Person Using Calendar to Plan End of YearFinish the year strong by performing a mid-year review and challenging your company to end on a high note. Take inspiration from The Weekender to see how you can incorporate the work-life balance necessary to succeed. Get the creative juices flowing and have everyone motivated throughout the remaining months of the year.

October – Make Time to Play

Make time for play to increase productivity and boost company morale.

All work and no play can make for some very disgruntled employees. Disgruntled employees typically translate into slips in productivity and progress. Make time at work for play. This can be anything from a creative brainstorming session with snacks and conversation to out-of-the-office team building events.

By making time to incorporate a little fun and lightheartedness into the workplace, you can increase employee satisfaction, which in turn, will benefit your company. Although it varies by level of position, the cost to replace an employee averages to about 6 to 9 months’ salary. Isn’t it worth it to keep good employees rather than trying to train new ones?Coworkers Having Fun and Creative Brainstorming Session

November – Do Something New

Create innovations for connecting with customers that will encourage more loyalty to strengthen your brand.

One of the biggest competitive advantages any company has is their unique value proposition. Decide what makes your company uniquely you. If you’ve spent the year going through the motions of tried-and-true, now is the time for innovation. Customize the way you are promoting your products and selling your services. According to Pew Research, majority of adult, American consumers say they are more comfortable using familiar products and brands.

What new thing(s) will you introduce in these last months that will carry over into the new year and put your brand on the forefront of people’s brains (and purchasing decisions)? Think about hosting an educational workshop, creating a loyalty program, or event that focuses on the needs/wants of your audience.Employee Connecting with Customers

December – Reconnect

Personalize your messaging to make real connections with your customers.

The purpose of any business initiative should be connecting with customers. Make sure your mid-year resolutions reflect changes you want to make to ensure this happens. Reconnect with loyal customers by sending them a personalized calendar that will help them plan out their next year. Add your own customized touch with a company newsletter, handwritten note, gift basket, or holiday card. Alert them to upcoming specials, deals, and/or new products on a monthly basis to give them a reason to stay engaged with your brand.

End of Year Inspiration

While the last months of the year are typically focused on generating revenue and hitting quarterly goals, it should also be used as a time to reflect on the successes and setbacks you’ve experienced throughout the year. Set up some time for a yearly review to gather feedback from both customers and employees to freely share what processes were successful and which more challenging. Were there any steps that were missed? What took longer than expected? Most importantly, did you discover opportunities that you didn’t see before?

By planning ahead and disposing of old methods that don’t work, you’ll finish the year strong and be ahead of the game come January 1st, feeling rejuvenated and ready to go.

Download the Weekender

How to Turn Your Desk Setup into a Work Sanctuary [Infographic]

Header for desk sanctuary infographic

Each person is acclimated to their own desk style, but are all desk styles conducive to feelings of calm and relaxation? According to a recent article published by Entrepreneur.com, an average office employee spends more than an hour a day “looking for things.” A cluttered space can result in haphazard workflows, misplaced documents, and a lack of ability to focus because everything is fighting for your attention at once. Lack of organization usually means lack of efficiency, which can result in an increase of stress. Simply put, more mess leads to more stress.

But all is not lost. There are ways to bring more Zen into your work day. It’s all about how you keep things organized for your office desk setup.

Read More…
“Sanctuary” may be the last word you think of when it comes to your desk space, but it may not be as far-reaching as you might think. For starters, the placement of your desk can align with the benefits of feng shui to introduce a good energy flow around where you work. Who wouldn’t want to create an environment more prone to prosperity and creativity?

For balance and clarity, place your monitor near the back of your desk and keep things tidy near the center. Additionally, keeping a journal or sketchbook situated in the front right section of your desk helps generate more creative vibes.

Continue to build your desk sanctuary in other ways by making it more personal with photos. Add your family, pet, or a travel scene to your desktop. Bring in a plant or include some splashes of color or new lighting to brighten up the space. By incorporating some simple touches to the area typically known for housing only a computer, pens, and notepad can make it feel more Zen.

Want to learn more about turning your workspace into a desk sanctuary? Get inspired and get ready to update your desk with the tips from our infographic below.

Benefits of handwriting vs typing

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Rise with Fall: How to Embrace the Changing Business Environment

Every industry has its ebbs and flows in business, typically gauged by quarterly reports and monthly revenue goals. Embracing the inevitable changing business environment equips you with the right tools and mindset to tackle any hurdles that may arise, thus setting you up for success.
Board Meeting to Discuss Business Environment

In order to keep the pace with the ever-changing business climate, your company must know how to be agile enough to ride the ups and downs. Let’s review three ways to embrace the change of seasons and highlight how you can end the year strong – even with both predictable and unpredictable industry change.

  1. Adopt and Embrace an Offline and Online Marketing Strategy

    Users want to see a tightly aligned message with a company’s online and offline marketing strategy. According to the Data & Marketing Association, direct mail customer response rates increased by 43% year-over-year, according to 2016 statistics. If your current offline strategy involves the use of direct mailers, include customized products your clients can use year-round. These may include personalized calendars, pens emblazoned with your logo, or business card magnets they can hang up in their own office or at home. However, while direct mail still is successful for most industries, don’t forget about the industry change of an ever-increasing mobile audience who may prefer to receive their messaging electronically.

    According to a 2016 report analyzing over 1 billion emails, there was an open rate of 24.88% when averaged across all devices and sectors. This scrapes by the average email marketing open rate of 22%. People consistently rely on email to receive information. If you’re not utilizing both offline and online strategies to align with each other, you may be, quite literally, sending your customers mixed messages.

    How to embrace the changing business environment: Don’t abandon tried-and-true offline methods. Just make sure they match what you’re presenting online as well, and test which performs better per campaign.
    Market Research for Industry Change

  2. Put on the Blinders and Live Out Your Own Mission (Don’t Follow Competitors)

    It’s still recommended to do market research and keep on an eye on your competitors to help gauge your place in the industry. But, you may also want to pay close attention to what sets your company apart from others. Brand identity is crucial for a small business, because marketing budgets most likely can’t compete against the bigger brands. Live out your own mission by engaging your entire team to be an advocate for your brand.

    Do this by becoming a “walking, talking billboard” at the places that matter most, such as trade shows, local events, conferences, and other opportunities where it makes sense (and is expected) to promote your brand. If your budget allows for it, sponsor a well-attended event and set up a booth to sell your products or services.

    Once you have finalized your calendar of events, equip your staff with promotional merchandise to give away. Items should include your company’s name, contact information (phone, email, and/or social media), and a tagline, if applicable. Customize note pads, water bottles, drawstring backpacks, and other swag-worthy items to pass out at your next event. It will give people a reason to stop by and learn more about your company, buy your products, or schedule an appointment for your service.

    How to embrace the changing business environment: Stop focusing so much on the competition. When it comes to promoting your company, sometimes you have to ignore the industry chatter to hone in on your specific goals and audiences.
    Small Business Team Meeting to Define Goals

  3. Think Big and Stay Small

    The term “small business” is defined by the number of employees and amount of revenue generated. These numbers range by industry as outlined by the Small Business Administration. Whether you are a small business of 25 employees or a company of 250, you must always be willing to think big to keep up with the changing business climate.

    Thinking big, though, often refers to looking at goals that go beyond revenue. It involves asking questions like: How do you want to present yourself in the industry? What kind of opportunities can you provide your employees? Are you a company that encourages leadership and advancement? Maintain open communication within your company and have scheduled internal brainstorming meetings or quarterly initiatives to further your company’s culture and value. What goals would you like to see your company achieve?

    How to embrace the changing business environment: Define your company by more than revenue; find out what else motivates employees. This will help reduce turnover and improve loyalty within your company, which in turn saves company hiring costs.

There will always be climate change in business, especially as technology shifts and audience mindsets evolve. As a small business, it’s important to stay relevant among industry change. Ensure you have stability internally, so you can maintain your business goals among your clients and new audiences. Empower your team to be flexible and adaptable through industry changes.

Want to gain a new perspective and learn how to embrace change? Download a free copy of our Weekender Guide, a work-life balance calendar, to help you set goals for your entire team.

 

How to Make Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbons

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). The initiative is focused on raising awareness about breast cancer and providing education and support. As an act of support and solidarity with those affected by breast cancer, survivors, family members, and friends proudly wear a pink ribbon during the month of October.Breast Cancer Awareness Month with RibbonAccording to U.S. Breast Cancer statistics, approximately 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in U.S. women in 2017, in addition to over 63,000 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.

To join the cause in raising awareness, you can easily make your own pink breast cancer awareness ribbons to wear or distribute to your family and friends, coworkers, schools, or other organizations you are a part of. All it takes is a three-inch piece of pink ribbon and a small safety pin to create the iconic marker of such an important cause. Though breast cancer research is crucial year-round, as a nation, we claim the month of October as the time to wear pink.

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon Steps

https://youtu.be/kgADu9NR-hY

To make your own pink breast cancer awareness ribbon, it takes just three easy steps:

  1. First, cut three-inch pieces of pink ribbon, cutting the ends at an angle.
  2. Hold the ribbon horizontally at its midpoint and fold the left end down and slightly across the midpoint.
  3. Then, fold the right end in the same way so the ribbon crosses itself slightly below the fold. At this cross-point, use the safety pin to secure the ribbon in place.

If it’s easier, you can stitch the ribbon together or hold it together with double sided tape at the midpoint before pinning to your shirt, jacket, bag, refrigerator, or wherever else you would like to display it. This DIY craft barely takes any time to make and allows you to demonstrate your solidarity for breast cancer survivors, remember those who have lost their battle with cancer, and celebrate those who have beat it. It’s a small and simple token, but with a powerful statement.

Go Pink with Breast Cancer Awareness Customizable Products

In addition to wearing pink ribbons, National Pen offers breast cancer awareness merchandise in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Customize magnets, tote bags, water bottles, keychains and more with the pink ribbon emblem to take to your next tradeshow, company meeting, or fundraising event to support the cause. Perhaps you would like to include someone’s name as a gesture of remembrance. Whatever the case may be, utilizing products such as these to go pink can help keep up the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month all year long.

Woman Holding Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon

Tradeshows

Stock your tradeshow booth with pink products that have been customized with your company’s name or logo. For example, tote bags emblazoned with “[company name] supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” Personalize items that will be useful for people year-round to make your company stand out and make raising awareness a long-term initiative.

Company Meeting

Encourage employees from all branches of your company to use pink breast cancer awareness pens, notes, sunglasses, or hats if they are headed to a conference, client meeting, sales pitch, or interoffice event. Pass them out at your next company meeting, and encourage distribution of them through the month of October as part of promotional efforts.

Fundraising Event

One of the best ways to actively show your support is to raise money for breast cancer education and research. Host a company bake sale and personalize a pink ribbon company banner to accompany it. Plan a 5K walk and order matching pink breast cancer awareness t-shirts for the whole team. Set a goal and share your progress on social media so others can feel inspired to do the same. The ideas are endless, but the goal is fixed on raising money and awareness for breast cancer.

The power of community involvement can’t be denied as everyone “goes pink” for the month of October. The fight against cancer is ongoing and every bit helps. How will you make a difference? Show your support by learning how to make breast cancer awareness ribbons, being active in raising awareness, and purchasing and wearing pink breast cancer awareness products.

The New Reality of Hospitality Marketing Solutions

Hospitality is a multi-billion industry that remains highly competitive. With the inception of Airbnb, virtual reality destinations, and the ever-growing online audience, one misstep in your hospitality marketing can make your brand become easily forgotten or dismissed.
Flight Attendant Standing in Airport
Not only do those in the hospitality industry need to focus on bringing in a loyal client base, but they must also have processes in place to address new challenges, such as 24/7 social media status updates and real-time requests in the age of instant gratification. One bad review or poorly executed ad can cause a viral media storm. Just ask Pepsi or United Airlines, both big companies who recently were caught under fire due to less than favorable choices and lack of response back to consumers.

Anyone who has worked in the hospitality industry knows problems will inevitably arise, but it’s how you deal with them and move forward that matters most. Some may see hotel marketing, restaurant marketing, and travel marketing (along with public relations) challenges as all too familiar in their day-to-day work life. We have identified challenges and hospitality marketing solutions, new and old, for how to promote hospitality businesses through the right mix of marketing and promotions.

Challenge: Higher Guest Expectations

Guests used to favor amenities like a heated pool, onsite workout room, or in-room coffee station. Now, those features are standard to the hotel experience and guests expect more. They are looking for added value to their stay. Hosting

events at your property or restaurant is a nice perk to offer your guests and a good promotional opportunity to invite prospective guests to experience the different elements and amenities of your hotel. Whether it’s a seasonally-inspired menu tasting, rooftop yoga, or live music night, you want to make as many people aware of the event as possible.

Reach your audience where they are most likely to see the announcement. This could be done through email campaigns, social media posts, flyers, or a combination of all three. Test your audience and see where they respond to you best. For example, if you’re unveiling a new menu, think about hosting a Facebook Live event with the chef introducing some of the new dishes. You can use this saved video as a promo to entice guests to make reservations.

Plan the promotional schedule a few months in advance with set reminders closer to the event date. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience with too many notifications, but do create engaging visual content that will make them want to remember your event.

Solution: A multi-channel approach to marketing your event that combines both online and offline efforts.

Restaurant Bartender Drying Wine Glasses

Challenge: Having the “It” Factor

Nearly every hotel has a brochure rack that is filled with material from various sources of what there is to do in the city. Why not customize a brochure specific to your hotel with content showcasing what makes your property special?

Does your property uphold a unique history? Are there amenities you offer that are not available at other hotels? Does your chef create seasonal dishes, specialty cocktails? Encourage your team to brainstorm a list of what makes your hotel one-of-a-kind and then, organize this into a promotional brochure to hand out at the front desk, add to your brochure or concierge area, and use in partnership with your local tourism board. This can include anything from a treat special to your city or state, such as the whoopie pie in Maine, live music from local artists, or a neighborhood tour hosted by your concierge that includes the history of your hotel where you highlight what makes it most interesting.

Make sure your content is an honest reflection of your hospitality brand. Stock photography and staged space setups are never popular solutions. Create unique promotional materials by using user-generated imagery or hosting a specialized photo shoot in the area you’re promoting.

For example, if your next ad is designed to promote wedding season, photograph garden or rooftop areas where those events are usually held. Allow the guest to visualize what the possibilities are with real-life imagery rather than sharing cookie-cutter event spaces.

Solution: Give your guests itinerary options that include your property and/or restaurant features. Include this in a welcome email or video or as part of an app where they can customize their own itinerary.

Challenge: Customer Loyalty

With the bevy of options available for travelers these days, the challenge among many in the hospitality industry is not only creating a satisfactory experience for the guest, but creating loyalty. Customer loyalty means the guest is most likely to choose your hotel over any other brand. If you don’t have a loyalty program for your hotel, it’s time to create one. If you already have one, it’s time to update it.

Ensure the perks and offerings that are part of your program are what guests value most to ensure a positive customer experience. Do they receive a free night after a certain number of bookings? Do they receive a gift on their loyalty anniversary? Not every perk has to be costly to your hotel, but everything offered has to make your most loyal guests feel like VIP.

Solution: Get creative with how you promote your loyalty programs from members-only events to added perks every year of membership.
Man Checking in to Hotel Front Desk

 

Challenge: Reaching More Than One Audience

When it comes to hospitality marketing, think about multiple ways you can repurpose one piece of promotional material to keep your budget in check. Align your messaging to what users want to see most. With the capabilities of data analysis available through website and social media reporting, you can see what messaging resonates most. You can also separate your messaging into different groups to ensure it is directly hitting your target audience(s).

For example, a hotel that wants to promote a summer campaign on Facebook should tailor their message differently between its prospective audience (those who have not yet visited the website or booked a stay recently) and the remarketing audience (those who have).

Solution: Align your marketing efforts so you can track results more easily and understand where your audience is responding to you most.

Make the Most of Your Hospitality Marketing Initiatives

The hospitality industry isn’t one where you can rest on your laurels and count on clients being loyal. With the increasing number of options available, attention spans can be fleeting and people are more enticed to try new adventures, especially if that comes with the promise of added amenities, improved accommodations, and personal extras that make one property more appealing than another.

One of the best ways to get a pulse of how your guests feel about your hotel, travel service, or restaurant is to pay close attention to what’s being said online. Both reputation management and social media responses are incredibly important to sustain a healthy brand image and encourage guests to come back for more.

But the first step to address evolving hospitality marketing solutions and opportunities is to be proactive. Showcase the best parts of your property or service, and give your guests nothing less than an ideal experience.

5 Hotel Marketing Tips to Boost Hotel Loyalty Programs

In the hotel industry, guest loyalty can make all the difference in the success of a hotel chain or company. New customers and frequent guests are valuable and always welcome, but it is important to remember that those long-term loyal hotel members are who will speak your name to all their friends and family and in the long run, have the biggest impact on your hotel’s growth.

Loyal Hotel Guests Checking in to Room

Happy and loyal guests are the people who keep coming back to your hotel time after time. They may not be frequent visitors, but you can rest assured that when they do travel, they will choose your hotel as their preferred choice. As such, you must consider, how are you making sure that they continue to be satisfied by your accommodations and services? How do you cater to your guests or reward them for their loyalty? Are you actively nurturing the positive relationship you have established with them? Have you introduced a hotel loyalty program to give back to your guests?

We have listed 5 ways for you to boost your hotel marketing and increase guest loyalty so that they continue to choose your brand and hospitality above all others.

  1. Create Valuable Hotel Perks

    What can you offer guests to make their stay more enjoyable and convenient? This might be early check-in or late checkout free of charge. Maybe it’s a free breakfast or invitation to an exclusive onsite event during their stay. Perhaps you spoil your guests with goodies upon arrival, offer discounted pricing for activities or theme parks in the area, provide free airport shuttle transportation, or a complimentary cocktail with dinner. Whatever those nice little extras are, be sure to include a list of the perks every loyalty member will receive as part of their hotel membership.

    Check in with your guests by using surveys and train your staff to ask about their stay while recording their answers. What is it your guests like most? What is it they could do without? What is it your team can improve on? The more data you collect, the better you can refine the experience into one that proves to be of highest value. High value equals more loyalty, more loyalty means a customer for life, which can be far more profitable than someone who may be a guest with your frequently, but temporarily.

    People like to receive free stuff and feel a sense of gratitude toward those who bestow such gifts. Make the most of the guest experience and nurture guest loyalty to entice guests to book their next trip or sign up for your hotel rewards program.

  2. Introduce a Reward Points System

    The gamification of the customer experience never seems to shy away from the fact that people love to earn points. According to 2017 loyalty program marketing statistics, enrollment for hotel loyalty programs has grown by 31% over the past four years. And, 87% of large companies state customer experience efforts such as these have made a positive impact. That’s a big percentage of the market you may be able to capitalize on when you put forth some effort.

    By initiating a points system, you can incentivize your guests to keep coming back, providing you with numerous opportunities to satisfy their needs and eventually create a loyal relationship.  Establish a tiered points system, the more points they earn, the bigger the “prize” they can receive, such as free room upgrades or complimentary nights. When they hit different loyalty tiers, create extra rewards or introduce a few surprises as a form of thanks. This could be an upgrade to a suite, a complimentary bottle of champagne, or a free dinner with a guest in your hotel restaurant. Consider what makes sense financially for your company, and set a points scale in place.

    You will also want to remind guests with incentives of why they should redeem their points. Research performed by Deloitte shows 82 percent of people who are part of a hotel loyalty program redeem their points when the opportunity arises, like if they receive a promo code or offer when they’re planning a trip. When you have this level of engagement with your hotel, why not capitalize on it?

    Hotel Rewards Program Deals Online

  3. Deliver a Unique Experience

    In order to do this, you must first identify what makes your hotel stand apart from others. What do you offer that is a value differentiator? The experience matters for those who are already loyal to your brand, but it will also capture the interest of those who have not become hotel loyalty rewards members. For example, a guest may choose your hotel primarily because they like your exclusive bedding and complimentary cookies offered upon check-in. Get creative with the ideas you use to market your hotel and showcase your unique style. Here are a few popular ideas for hotel perks and rewards that you can adapt to make your own:

    1. Host an outdoors movie night complete with complimentary snacks and sodas
    2. Host a cocktail hour inviting loyalty members only or use it as an opportunity to get guests who haven’t joined to sign up
    3. Prepare customized welcome bags for guests who reach certain milestones
    4. Make sure to celebrate birthdays with loyalty members who have shared that information

    A little effort can go a long way and turn a happy guest into a loyal one. How will you make your hotel experience stand out?

    Man Checking in to Hotel Front Desk

  4. Promote Your Perks and Hotel Loyalty Program Benefits on Social Media

    Plan your content and social media calendars to post about upcoming offers, benefits, and other information about your rewards program. Remember to target rewards towards your property’s specific audience(s). For example, family-friendly hotels can highlight free kids’ meals, onsite events that are fun for the whole family, and other perks that benefit those with kids. While those who focus more on the business traveler should focus on expedited check-in and check-out, conference room availability, and guestroom amenities like free wi-fi, multiple plug-ins, and enough space to spread out to take conference calls and work remotely.

    There are guests that may need a little reminder of the awesome benefits they receive through your loyalty program. Use this opportunity to provide updates on any new benefits. Have you added new perks to the program? Are you hosting a special seasonal event? This is an opportunity to re-engage your guests and also attract potential future guests.  Go above and beyond by providing great perks and incentives, but be sure you stay on top of your guests changing habits and use social listening to address their needs.

  5. Listen to Your Audience

    Constantly monitor your hotel rewards program and check its effectiveness. Listen to your guests – and if you’re not receiving enough feedback to make decisions, ask for it. In today’s digital world, direct surveys aren’t the only way to receive information about the satisfaction of a guest’s stay. Closely monitor online review sites and social media channels to get an idea of what hotel rewards your guests gravitate most to and which they could do without. You might find that the perk you have been focused on for the past 6 months is not actually driving interest from your guests, or that the small change from checkout at 11am to 12pm has made all the difference in your customers’ satisfaction.

    For instance, in an article shared by HotelExecutive.com, the example reviews data regarding a hotel’s 24-hour room service offering. The hotel surveyed guests at two different times: when they offered room service 24 hours a day and when they offered room service during reduced hours. The data demonstrated that there was no change in satisfaction or loyalty based on the 24-hour availability. Their “assumption” about the value this provided cost them $80,000 a year, a perk they cut after reviewing the data.

The more you connect with your guests to learn about what they value most and understand their needs and want, the more likely you’ll secure a guest for life and can continue a positive relationship for years and trips to come. Pay attention to your guests’ activities and feedback, and utilize hotel rewards programs to enhance your hotel marketing and continually provide great experiences for guests. Your involvement in these activities will surely help you remain top of mind for your loyal guests.