The one key perception shift you need to make for your content marketing pay off.
Are your tired of your stories not turning readers into paying guests?
Are you frustrated with your content marketing and its inability to move the revenue needle?
Don’t fret—we’re sharing the one major perception shift that could be holding you back from your sales goals.
Let’s start with how conversion doesn’t work. First, you design a multi-channel story strategy. You spend a considerable amount of time and resources mapping out content for your ideal guest. You create content calendars, schedule photo shoots, and spend days generating clever, on-brand captions. Once you create the content and share it on social media, you sit back and await the booking free for all.
Tumbleweed blows past your hotel doors. You go through various states of confusion and grief—there might be emphatic fist pounding on a conference room table—and you keep reconfiguring the content in hopes that this new strategy will score big.
Here’s the misstep.
The primary objective of your content should be to gain trust, not bookings. Trust us, the reservations will come, but you have to consider your customer’s journey, and it’s not always linear. There are several steps they have to take to choose your property over your competitor, and one blog post won’t be the clincher.
Let’s examine a typical journey and see how you can cultivate a relationship along the way to ensure that their decision to book a room at your hotel is undoubtedly the right one.
- Step 1: Kevin is planning to book a direly needed vacation in three months to the Florida Keys. He’s already secured his flight and will wait a few weeks until he decides on a hotel. Casually, he starts researching options on Hotels.com.
- Step 2: He notices your hotel, clicks through to browse the photo gallery, amenities, price for a single room, and, most importantly, the reviews. He clicks over to your TripAdvisor reviews, and they’re all fairly positive. He logs off for the night.
- Step 3: Kevin logs onto Facebook to announce he’s going to the Keys, and then he sees an ad about your hotel with a link to a blog post you’ve created: “The Top 10 Secret Must-Visit Spots in the Keys” His interest is piqued. He clicks over to your hotel’s blog and consumes the content you’ve created. He jots down notes of places he might like to visit.
- Step 4: Kevin scrolls through your posts related to the Keys and shares one on Twitter. His validation of your content is his first step in forming a relationship with your hotel. As a consumer, he knows the value of social currency and how his sharing your article signals that he likes your brand. He also shares another post from a competitor of which he found interesting.
- Step 5: Your social media manager spots the shared post and engages with Kevin. Asks him when he plans to visit and offers up some suggestions about local crab shops. Kevin likes the fact that he isn’t immediately sold to, and the fact that your hotel was the only one that responded online. Your competitor was radio silent. Kevin also receives a re-targeting ad displaying your recent TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award. Kevin trusts TripAdvisor, and this makes him feel better about your hotel versus the competitor option down the street.
- Step 6: Kevin becomes invested. He signs up for your newsletter (which promises exclusive offers and deals) and decides to follow your page on Instagram. He checks out some of your Stories and likes the vibe of your various hotels—the images of the guests sporting athletic and scuba gear feel “just like him,” and he likes that the crowd is mostly young and adventurous. He leaves a “thumbs-up” emoji on your photos from the Keys. He asks some questions on Instagram about nearby attractions and dining in the hotel, and your social media team responds promptly, guiding him to links that show him everything he needs. At this point, he leaves for his holiday in a month.
- Step 7: Kevin is a fan. When he has time, he engages with your hotel on social, likes that you chat back, and then receives a targeted offer in a newsletter that qualifies him for one free night if he books within the next 48 hours.
- Step 8: Kevin is in! You’ve gained his trust with your knowledge of the Keys, the solid TripAdvisor reviews, the badge of excellence, and he appreciates that you’ve always treated him like a human rather than a wallet. He transitions from a fan to a customer.
Here’s why the fusion of customer-centered content and human connection works to ultimately drive sales.
First, you created content that you knew would resonate with your target audience. You learn about your customer beyond basic demographic info and their willingness to spend. You got to know them as people who have real and complicated problems, motivations, behaviors, and habits. Once you know everything there is to know, you become the person who gets them. You post the lifestyle photos that Kevin wants to see. Talk up the allergy-free options in your local restaurant. You talk to him like he’s a person instead of a number and this act goes a long way in establishing that “like, know, and trust” factor.
You also realize the power of mirror neurons and how becoming a reflection of your customer is the quickest route to establishing trust.
We understand others not by thinking, but by feeling. We feel first, think second. Scientifically, we home in on “mirror neurons” — creating words that simulate your customers’ actions and the thoughts and feelings behind their actions. They feel like you’re talking to them, about them. Customers want to see themselves in you. They want to know that you see them, understand them, and they’re part of your reason to be.
With mirroring, people who consume your content will not only experience similar activity to the people in the images of videos depicted, but also to the storyteller. In short, our brains are wired to empathize for, and make connections with, others and the stories they tell. Our reactions are primarily emotional until the rational, more pragmatic side of our brain kicks in, which means, stories have the power to draw people in immediately.
If you gain their trust through your stories and authentic, relatable connection, what started as Kevin reading a blog post dovetails into Kevin booking a room in your hotel for your Keys holiday.
When you’re developing a story strategy that centers on gaining a prospects’ trust, make sure your content:
- Fosters a dialogue: You want them to comment, ask questions, and be engaged. Let them experience your difference, first-hand.
- Taps into their feelings: When your content evokes feels of amusement, joy, hope, happiness, interest, and delight, they’re more apt to engage and share because we’re all hard-wired to crave endorphin-boosting emotions. Let your story home in on the emotional benefits of your brand and properties and then swoop in with the rational considerations of price, location, rewards, etc.
- Evoke feelings of familiarity and comfort: Because of mirroring, people cleave closer to that which is familiar. Even though your social media team sits behind a computer screen—they’re strangers to Kevin—he establishes a sense of knowing them because they’ve communicated with him in a human and real way. Leverage the information you know about your customer to deliver content and experiences that feel familiar, yet exceptional to them.
Give your content time to yield the returns you’re seeking.
Trust isn’t given or earned overnight, but your stories are the first step in creating a relationship and cultivating a dialogue with the guest whom you want to attract.
Need help crafting stories that build trust? At Storified Hospitality Group, we offer workshops on story design and architecture from hotel marketing veterans who have created consistent, award-winning, revenue-generating content. Our brand storytelling masterclass is also another great way to immerse your team and train them to think and act like storytellers.
Contact us today to get started.