Make it a point to check out at least one of these tools. They're all pretty amazing for the price and will help you automate some of your marketing. If you do try any of them out, let us know your experience.
Several years ago, I sat down to lunch with a sales manager of a Seattle area meeting facility known for its long history. While we sipped sangria and tucked into our paella, she told me she was having a tough time figuring out the competition. If she could get an idea of who they were, she could focus on what made her offering better. With so many places to hold events in the city, she was getting lost in the sauce.
Think Like Your Customer
She had tried to make the comparison by number of rooms, capacity, menu, catering, etc. I suggested she was looking at the problem from an insider’s point of view rather than the customer’s. According to Al Ries and Jack Trout in their seminal book on the subject, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, “…you position the product in the mind of the prospect.” In other words, she needed to think like an event planner, although not all event planners are the same.
Define the Competition By What You Offer
I asked her to step back and think about who her customer was based on what she had to offer. Her facility is one of the few historic places that hosts events. Our first idea then was to go after planners interested in historic properties, but there probably weren't enough of those to make a market. So we broadened our perspective. That is, target event planners looking for something a little different from the typical hotel. This customer would be interested in an unusual location. Their thought process might be, “What space will make my event more exciting for my guests?” Once again, it’s important to put yourself in the mind of your prospect. That made a place like the Olympic Sculpture Park Pavilion a competitor. For more ideas, I suggested using Google to do a search as if she were the customer. For example, a search for historical meeting spaces Seattle revealed: Warwick Hotels, Washington Hall, Georgetown Stables. This provided a short list, rather than hundreds of generic hotels, for comparing her property's strengths and weaknesses.
It was a great lunch, but even better, my lunch companion now had a marketing strategy that would save her time and get her more business.
When it comes to social media, there's more to life than what I call the "Royal Three" especially for finding business to business leads.
Your first thought should be, find other places where your audience hangs out online:
If you're having difficulty finding "niche" sites, try searching for "niche social sites" plus whatever industry you're in. You could also do some research to see what your competitors are doing. Once you've found sites to contribute to, you can start commenting on blogs, answering questions, joining a discussion, adding events to a calendar, or any other social activity available on the site. For example, I'm getting traction with startups on Quora, a Q&A type social site.
Many of these sites allow you to add your name to a directory as well. I wouldn't ordinarily recommend paying for a directory listing unless you start seeing a fair amount of traffic from it. This idea is applicable to the social activities as well. If you start getting traction, you could consider advertising or paid sponsorship and closely track the results.
The benefits of this social strategy include:
Anything you do socially will be a longer term play and take more effort than advertising. Paid sponsorship may speed up the process. No matter what your approach, you'll need to determine whether the time and financial investment is warranted in terms of results you're getting from other promotional tactics.