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What Tourism Brands can Learn from Political Election Campaigns

This Saturday in South Australia, we’re heading to the polling booths.

Now, I’d consider myself the average Australian when it comes to understanding politics.

I attended my first session in the House of Representatives at Parliament House only late last year, and enjoyed myself immensely in the colour, characters and conversation that fill the room.

I don’t proclaim to understand the ins and outs of their public roles, all I hope is that they run our great country the best they can with the resources at hand.

One thing I do proclaim to know however, is a little bit about marketing and consumer behaviour.

With the election campaign in full swing here in South Australia for the past month or so, each party have drawn their battle-lines and are out and about spriuking their messages via well-used political campaign tactics from elections’ past.

During this time, I couldn’t help but to notice a few things about the Political party ‘campaigning’ that tourism brands could learn from, so I thought I’d share a few insights with you!

 

They don’t understand how to influence consumers

Building a brand successfully is the result of having an intimate understanding of who your customers are, and ensuring that your messaging and chosen media are aligned with those customers.

Consumers are hyper connected, totally in control of the messages they interact with, have and will find solutions to answers instantaneously, at all times of the day.

They filter approximately 5K brand encounters each day, only to process 12 brand messages.

They don’t like to be sold to, and I would go so far as to say they will avoid any messages that tell them to think or feel a certain way… they’re too smart for that!

They will give personal information, to get a personalised experience. And, if these personal details are in any way compromised, then they will shut down the relationship with a brand.

Real brand relationships are a premium in this day and age, and if a consumer feels as though they are feeling heard, inspired and genuinely looked after and respected, then they feel closer to a brand.

So, it’s easy to see where the political parties have let the ball slip when it comes to understanding their customers:

  • Since the election campaign started in South Australia nearly a month ago, South Aussies have been receiving unwarranted phone calls from automated machines, and text messages trying to ‘sell a message’.
  • Not only are they getting these messages and phone calls, they are at all times of day and night, and in the middle of things like family dinner, which is highly frustrating!

 

They only try to communicate directly to consumers around election time

Prior to the internet, and the hyper-connectivity of consumers (particularly their access to Google and Social Media) brands based their marketing efforts around campaigns, which were single messages pushed out via traditional media (typically print, TV and radio) over a period of time.

Thanks to the disruptive force of the internet, and the changes in consumer behaviour it has influenced, this campaign based marketing strategy has needed an overhaul.

Brands need to be focussing on building relationships with their consumers over a long period of time, sharing insights, adding value, and building the relationship until the consumer is hopefully ready to purchase.

This unfortunately doesn’t work anymore. Consumers are far to intelligent to simply ‘believe’ what a brand is telling them.

Don’t get me wrong, consumers will also sometimes know what they want, and not need this type of affection from Brands (like when I really want to buy my Asics Netburner Professionals in a Size 8, in the blue and pink colour) but generally, consumers want to be swooned and cared for prior to investing in a purchase.

So, it’s easy to see where the political parties have dropped the ball here…

  • Between election campaigns, we barely hear ‘Boo’ from politicians, only seeing them in the pre-arranged media interviews, spruiking the latest win – it seems there is no real genuine care for the public, rather, importance is placed on getting their message out there
  • When it is election campaign time, we can’t miss a candidate… they’re literally everywhere… making out that they really want to get to know you and your challenges, whether it’s at the local primary school pedestrian crossings, tram stops, shopping centre – it’s targeted, time-bound, and unfortunately, pretty useless in terms of it’s influence.

 

They invest in high cost, low engagement tactics

As I’ve already said, the internet has disrupted the marketing landscape, and with that, the influence of traditional marketing activities is dwindling.

In this day and age, the best form of marketing is that which inspires advocacy, which is unprompted word of mouth for a brand. The reason being, is that people trust what other people say, not what brands say about themselves.

The ‘end marketing goal’ for brands should be to get more people talking positively about their product or service, which will inspire real conversation and engagement.

Again, I’m not quite sure that the policical parties have cottoned on to this:

  • Politicians advertising campaigns are one way messages, using TV, print, flyer and radio advertising which are all expensive and (least trusted media) to push mostly negative messages about their opposition, which in itself says more about their party than their opposition.
  • They print an INSANE number of posters, with candidates photos on them, who the public have no connection or recall for, which means they serve absolutely no influence when it comes to election day.

 

What Tourism Brands can learn from Political Campaigns

Unlike politics, people have a choice to travel, and can choose where and what they experience. Which is why tourism brands can’t rely on the same marketing tactics the Political Parties use to try and engage the public in their stories.

So apart from avoiding basically all of the campaign tactics that political parties invest in (noted above), tourism brands should focus their energies on the following:

  • Firstly, the most important thing you can do for your Tourism brands is understand your Customers intimately, and map their journey with your experience. Knowing this will allow you to develop your tourism experience to inspire advocacy, share messages that resonate with your customers on the right platforms at the right time, by the right storytellers. This is literally the silver bullet to tourism marketing.
  • Nurture the relationships with all of your customers, no matter what stage of travel they are in – whether they are only seeking inspiration, planning and booking, experiencing, or even sharing their experience with family and friends. You can do this through creating meaningful content that inspires and helps them to make the very best travel decisions, so they have the best time of their lives.
  • Give them the tools to become advocates for your tourism brand. The only way we can influence word of mouth marketing is by delivering the most exceptional experience every time, and then giving them the ammo to share it with their friends and family on social media. For example, promote a brand hashtag, share selfie spots around your experience, offer to take photos of your customers and post online for them to tag themselves, invite them to share their experience on TripAdvisor.

 

Nearly time to vote!

So, like one of the 12 dwarves, I’ll be ‘heigh-ho’ing’ off to the polling booths on Saturday with the locals, so I better do some independent research into the commitments from each party so at least I’m informed, properly!

 

The post What Tourism Brands can Learn from Political Election Campaigns appeared first on Tourism eSchool.

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