Marketing to guide companies does not have to be complicated. In fact, you can keep it super basic if you want. We have previously written about all aspects of digital marketing in our Journal, but it helps to put it together in a digestible way. So that’s what we’re going to do here.
Here is a simple marketing strategy to help you get started with marketing for your mentoring business. In other words, to spread the message about what you do and who you can guide.
1. Determine your target audience
Finding out who your ideal customers are will help you decide the best way to reach them. For example, are your target customers solo travelers, millennials, families with children or hardcore enthusiasts?
In our blog, Why stages of buyer travel matter for adventure tourism, we cover buyer personas. Creating buyer personas helps you market your tours better because you create content specifically for that person you have been dreaming of, instead of talking into the airwaves.
It’s like writing a letter to a friend. You would speak differently to your friend than if you wrote to your parents or boss. By creating a buyer persona, you know what their interests are and what would make them want to take a trip with you.
How to create a buyer persona
Look through your contact database to find trends about people who have been on trips with you before, visited your site and followed you on social media. You can even ask your customers what they like about your mentoring company or what brought them to you in the first place.
During your research, determine where they are visiting from. Are they local? did they fly from a neighboring state, across the country or internationally? Should they stay at a hotel or Airbnb? Are they on a road trip?
2. Compile the information
Consider customer information such as age, employment, location, purchasing power and buying habits, hobbies, challenges and stage of their lives.
3. Identify your customers’ challenges and goals
It is important to find out what your customers’ goals and challenges are so that you can offer the solution.
As a mentoring company, you solve the challenge of not knowing how to do a particular activity or not knowing where to approach an activity. If someone wants to start climbing but they do not know where to start, you as a climbing company can be the solution.
If your customer wants to meet a challenging 14er, you can help them achieve this goal. Being able to identify what your customers want and why they will hire you will help you create (and advertise) unique offers.
4. Put it all together
You may decide that you have a few buyer personas, which is quite normal. Start by giving them a name, age and location. Then add their hobbies and interests, what phase of life they are in, and finally their needs and goals.
From here, you can think of Road Tripper Rosie when creating marketing content. When this target customer reads your social post, blog or email, they will feel like you wrote it to them – which you did.
Partner with local businesses
In our previous blog, Why you should focus on local tourism and how to do itwe originally covered partnerships with local businesses due to COVID-related travel restrictions.
As the restrictions were lifted, it became clear that local tourism would continue for much longer. In addition, we saw an increase in outdoor activities, which also remained when the restrictions were lifted. Good news for us!
With high gas prices, more people can become local. If you work with local businesses, you will reach your customers faster and easier.
Offer a local tourist package
Save this for the slow season, or use it to get locals to sign up for your tours. By offering activity discounts to people living nearby, you can gain new customers and increase customer loyalty at the same time.
Create a unique package with hotels and rentals
Hotels and rentals often look for alternative ways to attract and engage new guests. By creating a unique package with hotels and rentals, you are introduced to new customers or alternatively you can help customers with overnight stays.
In addition, if there are other travel companies offering complementary services, it might be a good idea to team up with them to give guests a great experience. For example, if there is a local brewery, winery or just as cool activity, sit down with them.
3. Join organizations
Similar to partnerships with local businesses, joining organizations can also help spread the word about your guiding business.
In our blog, Strategic partnerships you need to succeed after COVID, describes several local partnerships that will help you increase brand awareness. Click on that link to get an in-depth look at strategic partnerships. Keep reading to get an overview of a few destination- and activity-specific organizations.
Tourist offices and welcome centers
These offices are located throughout states and provide visitors with information about the state, things to do and places to visit. Introduce yourself and your mentoring company, your goals and what you offer. This way, they can recommend your activity the next time a visitor asks.
Local Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce is a network of companies that work together to promote their common interests through advocacy, networking opportunities and various other membership benefits. This will help you create new connections in the community.
Destination Marketing Organizations
Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) promote a place as an ideal tourist destination. They are also known as the Tourist Board or Convention and Visitors Bureau and exist primarily to provide information to travelers. Their websites typically include dining, lodging and events and attractions. Contact them to have your mentoring company added to their list.
Another opportunity to take advantage of is that we find activity-specific organizations to which you can add your mentoring company.
There are other organizations like America Outdoors Association. They are an international industry association for adventure travel outfitters, travel companies and outdoor educators and their suppliers.
That Association for Outdoor Life and Education serves the needs of professionals in the field of outdoor life and education.
There are a wealth of organizations you can join and list your mentoring company. A simple Google search should yield results.
4. Blogging for SEO
You can learn more about search engine optimization at our blog post, An Introduction to Tourism SEO for Outdoor Guideswhere we break down what SEO is, why SEO is important, how SEO works, and tips for SEO for your guiding business.
Blogging is just one aspect of search engine optimization. This is when you choose a keyword or phrase that you would like to rank for in Google results, which is also relevant to your business. Typically, you will use that keyword, phrase, or related keyword throughout the blog post. That way, when Google crawls your site, it will understand what you are writing about and it can recommend to anyone searching for that topic.
Places where your keyword / phrase should be included:
- Meta description
- Headlines and body text
Most importantly, when you blog for SEO, you do not want to overload your pages with the keyword because Google will know and punish you. Focus on creating blogs that your guests would like to read and move them to book with you.
Read our blog about the benefits of content marketing to learn why it is so important to create content.
5. Other ways to engage your audience
Email is a great way to stay in touch with past guests and engage new ones. Unlike blogging or listing your indicative business website on DMO sites, it is a direct route to them. You can stay connected to past guests by sending them monthly newsletters highlighting any promotions, news or new services.
At the same time, if you have an engaging newsletter, let site visitors subscribe so you can be on top of their minds when they start planning their next vacation.
Not sure where to start? We wrote a blog post on how to get started email marketing as an adventure guide here.
Social media marketing is a fun and free way to engage with past guests and introduce your guiding business to new customers. IN Why tour operators need a social media strategywe cover how social media plays a role in making travel plans, going on adventures and posting adventures.
Social media helps you get ahead of more potential customers when you post consistently and interact with your followers. It is a great opportunity for customer support and helps future travelers learn about you before you book a trip.
If you want to grow yours adventure guide business, social media is a good way to do it.
Final Thoughts, TL; DR – Marketing for indicative companies
1. Find out who it is you want as your customer. Get a clear picture of who they are, what they like to do, and their goals or challenges.
2. Create your ideal customer based on your research and brainstorming. When creating marketing materials, think about them and whether your content will resonate.
Find and partner with local businesses such as wineries, breweries, hotels and places your previous guests have visited to offer a unique package to new customers.
4. Participate in local organizations such as tourist offices and welcome centers, local chambers of commerce, destination marketing organizations or activity-specific organizations.
5. Write and post SEO-friendly blogs on your website so that people can more easily find your website.
6. Email your contact database consistently with useful information and promotions.
7. Post on social media and engage with your followers.