“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Seth Godin
Storytelling has been around since day dot. It's been the way we have communicated and connected with each other forever, and given the fact that our brains are wired to respond to well-crafted narrative, it's unlikely that this will ever change.
We have a tendency to get wrapped up in the everyday routine and to get comfortably set in our ways of doing things. You might be busy, or you might just think things are ticking along nicely, no need to fix something that's not broken. Perhaps sometimes you hear buzzwords - or what sounds like buzzwords - and you think, that doesn't apply to me or my hotel. It only applies to the bigger brands, the ones with bigger scope and bigger budgets.
People are bombarded with so many messages from companies trying to sell them something on a daily basis that they've become innately wiser to the game. They don't want cold calls or random mass mails or junk through the letter box. They expect more, and it will take more to really attract them.
We can all benefit from the principles of good marketing and storytelling, however 'big' they seem. The key is to take the logic and apply it to your business in whatever way you can. Although it definitely wouldn't hurt if George Bernard Shaw used to frequent your property, you don't necessarily need a wild hook to interest people. Read on for more on the importance of crafting your hotel's brand story.
What's it all about?
Brand storytelling is all about crafting a story or stories that promote the values your company and customers have in common. The whole purpose of brand storytelling is to use narrative to connect with people.
It doesn't just sound good - it can truly benefit your brand in tangible ways like:
- Increasing reach and boosting social media engagement
- Raising brand awareness & familiarity
- Improving brand loyalty
- Generating more revenue
In order to do all of this, you need to decide first who you're speaking to. Once you have your audience or your guest personas nailed down, you have a better idea of what they want and how you can accommodate these wants with everything you're about and what you have to offer. Not only this, but you know the kind of tone and language they will respond to - which is very important. If you need a reminder on how to establish or re-establish your brand's tone of voice, a good trick is to try think of your hotel as a person, and describe its personality in three words.
Keep your message consistent or you'll lose attention
Keeping your messaging consistent across all of your platforms is a huge part of how successful the delivery of your brand story will be. You need to have a clear focus. Every part of your messaging from your website to your email and social media has to be integrated and not fragmented. If there are messy bits and pieces everywhere - an odd nod to a room or grounds feature not reflected anywhere else, or an offer price with no background property detail - you will likely be scanned quickly and forgotten about, and the chances of someone recognising your brand and becoming slowly familiar with its beauty, value and qualities is slim.
What channels should you use?
Think carefully about what channels you choose to use. Perhaps you've been on Facebook for years but barely post on the platform? Your channel usage should come down to where your guests are spending their time, where you can reach them, and where best you can communicate your brand story to them so they have a chance to connect and engage. Each communication channel and even each piece of communication should have a purpose. It's all too easy for channels to become siloed and suddenly a lack of clarity and consistency becomes apparent.
Useful and necessary platforms include your website, which should hold the bulk of your brand story, values, features, offers - everything about your hotel, as though it is the body your hotel's personality lives in. You can include short videos, visuals that help to place your guests at the hotel experiencing what you have to offer.
Emails, newsletters, blogs and social media campaigns are also a great way to communicate with your chosen guest personas. Your social content has the power and freedom to be a little imaginative and emotionally compelling. Your blog can tell the story of specific elements of your property like - the food, location, area etc. Choose your social media platforms carefully and use your smart tech stack and data to inform your email marketing campaigns. Be smart with how you communicate, recalling what we said earlier about people's expectations being higher. You also have to consider your OTA channels, your Google My Business etc. They're all contributing to the story!
User generated content
You know what else is important? Other people's stories!
Especially over the last few years, user generated content (any content created or posted by people online) can prove to be super valuable to use as part of your online marketing strategy. Smartphone camera quality and the rise of influencer culture has created a lot of amateur photographers, critics and social media-obsessed travellers. User generated content will strengthen trust in your brand, perception of your brand and it will actually amplify your story and values.
You should look at user generated content as not only an effective way of utilising guest content for brand storytelling but also as a form of communication with other guests.