Traditional marketing is like throwing bottles into an ocean of information, hoping that people will get the message inside, find it appealing, and place an order for more bottles. In other words, traditional marketing is a very uncertain activity, which can quickly become expensive.
In a world where hotels have shrinking budgets to spend on marketing, there’s a technique they can use to grow their business without cutting into their margins. Hacking growth or growing a business customer base using alternatives to conventional marketing tactics.
Here are 3 ways to start growing your business today, while staying on the CFO’s good books:
Newsjacking: surfing on someone else’s notoriety
Press conferences for PR people are what newsjacking is for Growth Hackers. It’s all about picking a popular short story and jumping on the bandwagon to pull off your own spin.
A good example is the ephemeral beach set up by the hilton hotel on the banks of the Thames in London (January 2013). The hotel set up the beach on Blue Monday, the so-called ‘most depressing day of the year’. Therefore, the hotel has been mentioned in several stories with an association to “Blue Monday”. Result: more than 3 million people were exposed to the newsjacking campaign.
Sometimes a news is not always necessary to promote the hotel. To create buzz around the opening of its flagship New York property, citizenM limousines parked as mobile billboards saying “free Wi-Fi is a real luxury” in front of all the major palaces in the city. The campaign has gone viral!
Hospitality-related articles are rarely exciting on their own. Focus on popular, brand-relevant news instead of delivering half-hearted news through traditional media channels!
Inside-Out Marketing: Customers as the Sales Team
Traditional marketers rely on sales teams to acquire customers in a linear fashion. Growth hackers practice inside-out marketing to leverage existing customer bases to grow exponentially. Inside-out marketing takes the loyal customers already in the base – no matter how many – and entices them with incentives to help them spread out into the world.
Example: with its “Tweeter un café” initiative, Starbucks allows its registered customers to give coffees to their friends as gifts simply by sending a tweet. Thus, each coffee purchase is shared on the social network.
Another: Global Hosting and Hosting Site AirbnbThe referral program encourages inviting friends to register on the site, giving the sender and receiver $25 in travel credit. By creating personalized invitation vouchers and focusing on mobile friendliness, Airbnb has increased bookings by up to 25% in select markets.
Taking a cue from Airbnb, hotels could also incentivize their guests to invite their friends to stay at the same property or brand by offering them a similar travel credit. Another idea is to offer additional benefits when booking (room upgrade, airport transfer, etc.) on one condition: invite the client’s entourage to also book a trip.
When it comes to selling your product, there’s no need to shout it out. Instead, quietly let your loyal customers know. They will close the sales for you.
Co-creation: merging product and communication
Traditional marketers work for months on developing a new product/service, hoping that a big launch party will turn people into brand advocates overnight. Growth Hackers believe that a launch party is like playing roulette by putting all the chips on a single number and crossing your fingers to win the jackpot.
Growth Hackers do not separate product development and marketing. For example, Prodigy Design Lab, a spin-off from a real estate developer, launched a competition to outsource the interior design of a new hotel in New York. Regardless of the winner of the competition, it gathered a crowd of people who felt involved in the project and ultimately wanted to share its development with their respective networks.
Restaurants could invite their customers to taste dishes before the launch of a new menu; clubs could involve their patrons in deciding the list of guest artists; and hotels could hold workshops to test, comment on and improve mock-up rooms. In other words, don’t waste too much time and money tweaking every component of your new offering. Remember, “no customer will care about your business until they feel like they belong.”
A change of mentality
Newsjacking, reverse marketing, and crowdsourcing are just three examples of how growth hackers approach sales and marketing. Beyond being a set of tools, growth hacking is a mindset that focuses on using non-mass marketing tactics to grow, acquire, and retain customers.