For those of you who may not know, we recently wrapped up the first-ever motorcoach marketing industry survey. The survey accounted for nearly 3,500 pieces of equipment and shined a light on a number of the hurdles our industry faces when it comes to marketing.
While the vast majority of respondents indicated that they would like to be doing more marketing, the survey also revealed several issues that keep them from doing everything they’d like to do.
The top three answers? Time, budget and staff availability.
SHOCKING! Well, probably not if you have been in this industry long enough to run your first charter. Nevertheless, this information is important and helpful.
As a council, we have long believed that these are the central issues that plague this industry, and we continue to try to provide the tools, training and resources to address them. But we’re not kidding ourselves; we know there’s not a magic bullet that can manufacture more time, money or employees.
That being said, there are ways to lessen the impact of these limitations on your ability to more consistently move your marketing objectives forward.
More than 55 percent of those who completed the survey said time was one of their biggest obstacles when it came to marketing. Simply put, it’s hard to find time to think about, plan, build and implement marketing strategies.
As the director of sales for a motorcoach operation, this reality was emblazoned on my mind forever. I distinctly remember the haunting feeling of the never-ending list in my mind of stuff to do: marketing, sales calls, customer visits and meetings to attend.
That list notwithstanding, this was the actual reality: buses breaking down, drivers getting sick, weather, customer complaints and all the other operational realities that come with this business.
So, what happened to me was what I know happens to many of you on a daily basis. The sales, marketing and growth objectives simply got pushed to the back of the pile. They became overwhelming as the weeks and months stacked up, and I actually began to believe those objectives didn’t really need to come to fruition. (“It’s working now and I’m not doing it, so it can’t be that important.”)
You and I both know this simply isn’t the case. Marketing is about growing demand for your product. More demand means more opportunity to raise prices, and that’s something I know we all need to do.
As a council, we’ve designed all of our tools with your time in mind. While many of the tools address budget and staff concerns as well, their primary focus has always been to help you plan, create and implement marketing without having to spend as much time doing it.
I want to highlight the tools we offer and briefly discuss the ways each one can be a timesaver for your business.
Social Library: For those of you who may not know, the social media library we’ve created is free to use (no account required) and it’s available on our website.
Social media is a powerful marketing tool, but the creation of content can sometimes be a daunting task. (It’s a Wednesday in May, and you just moved a group of weary business travelers from the airport to the hotel. Let’s face it, there’s not much news in that story.)
Often the business of motorcoach travel, whether line run or charter, can be less than exciting from a content-development standpoint. This, then, is the quandary of our industry: do we post nothing, post more pictures of empty buses or come up with (and implement) a great strategy for developing a content engine that involves the drivers, staff and customers?
We all want to choose option C, but we usually find ourselves somewhere between A and B. The library was designed to augment your existing content when you don’t have the time or material to do something on your own.
Our social media library is available 24/7, and all you have to do is copy, paste and post. Because trying to post five to seven times a week can be daunting, many companies use it to fill in the gaps. Other companies generate their own material by putting a spin on ideas they get from viewing the library.
However you decide to use it, this is a tool that everyone can take advantage of.
Training Videos and Motorcoach Marketing Magazine: What if I told you about a free video that would give your new sales or marketing person everything he or she needs to know to effectively market and sell to any one of 25 vertical charter markets? (I can even sweeten the deal by saying that it takes less than 30 minutes to watch.)
Additionally, what if I told you there was a publication that takes all the marketing information out there and condenses it to give you the stuff you really need to know?
We know that training is a major hurdle in this industry and it is often the responsibility of the owners and managers to pull it off. They’re typically so busy with the day-to-day operational concerns, however, that training doesn’t happen (or people don’t even get hired in the first place).
If there is one tool in our toolbox that is underutilized, it’s our library of training videos. These campaign-specific videos were created for this industry. (They’re not motivational content built for the trucking industry that we’ve recycled for the crumbs.)
Each one gives you, in a matter of minutes, the information we’ve learned from looking at charter operations that are successfully selling work into these markets. Companies are using these videos to train new staff by holding “lunch and learns” for their entire sales departments or by assigning them to sales staff and holding them accountable for implementation over the coming months.
Motorcoach Marketing is our free quarterly digital magazine that’s all about effectively marketing your business. Because the ecosphere of marketing is huge and often overwhelming, the mission of this magazine is to put the essential stuff you need to know in one place. Our goal is to make it easier than ever to keep your finger on the pulse of what is now and what is to come.
We’ve noticed that companies that use these tools have a level of focus on marketing and sales that isn’t replicated by companies that aren’t using them. They provide, even to seasoned veterans in this industry, a pile of ideas and strategies that effectively help motorcoach operators market their businesses.
The Design Center: One of the foundations of the GoMotorcoach tool library is an online design center that allows you to customize thousands of pieces of marketing with your company logo, contact information and photos.
These motorcoach-specific tools were created to support companies in rolling out powerful campaigns with just a few minutes invested in actually creating the art. Gone are the days of trying to figure out how to use a design program, finding clip art or trying to convey your vision to someone who simply doesn’t understand our industry or your objectives.
This powerhouse of materials includes both digital and printed tools. While there is a small cost ($199) to access the library, it gives users the ability to make anything from bus wrap elements to postcards, brochures and stickers.
While some companies use these design tools to develop all of their marketing materials, many more use it to augment the things they already do. For example, many customers utilize it to inexpensively and quickly create things such as tablecloths and pop-up banners when they are attending trade shows.
Others with a strong brand and employees that design their marketing content use these tools to test the waters in markets they haven’t focused on in the past. (This helps them determine if they want to invest in making their own materials in the future.)
Still others simply take the verbiage, ideas and images and build a campaign unique to them.
Do It For You: This is the ultimate timesaver. Rolled out in 2017, this program was specifically designed to address the time concerns we see in the industry. This is how it works: select what you need and allow us to custom build materials just for you.
You can even have them implemented on your behalf on a limited scale. If it sounds easy, that’s because it is!
For example, let’s say that you want digital flyers for each campaign that can be attached to quotes or sent with your monthly emails. Now, with one click of a button, a couple photos of your coaches and a logo, our team will create them for you.
If you wake up tomorrow and say, “We need more wedding business,” you can order a program designed to put that in motion with the same click of a button. This program allows us to build materials, help buy the list of players you need to know in your market or make and mail the first postcard to that market.
Whether you want a single marketing item or a constant flow of new materials, this program was designed to take time out of the equation.
We have seen companies use this as a tool to keep marketing moving during busy seasons. Others choose to use this instead of pulling staff off of their existing duties in order to make sure their marketing objectives are accomplished.
Still others are tired of talking about getting to marketing “someday,” and they use this program to finally get the ball rolling. However you decide to use it, we know it will help you move forward as never before.
Time is a major hurdle when it comes to marketing in this industry. Though we know marketing is important, it tends to be pushed aside due to operational constraints. Because our council was built by the industry and for the industry, we know (all too well) that good intentions, by themselves, don’t deliver results.
We strive to provide solutions and give you the tools you need to help you sell more charters, to more people, for more money.
If you want to learn more about our services, visit our website and sign up for a live (or watch a prerecorded) JumpStart Webinar. In 45 minutes, we’ll introduce you to everything we offer and help you get started.
For more information about the Motorcoach Marketing Council and its programs, go to www.motorcoachmarketing.org.