5 Tips for Great Marketing During Tourist Season

For many businesses in Citrus County, attracting customers is a seasonal thing; there’s tourist season, and there’s off-season. This applies not only to traditional tourist industries like hotels and restaurants, but also to car repair shops, beauty salons and everything in between. Our entire area is affected when the ‘snowbirds’ leave their frigid northern roosts to perch down here on the nature coast.

As we head into that time of year full of crowded eateries and traffic jams, here are a few (5 actually) tips to help boost your local business during our busiest time of year:

1.    Create a Tourism Marketing Plan

Okay, this one isn’t specific to tourism, but it should be the first step in every marketing effort. Figure out what you want to accomplish and create a list of activities that will help you get there, and be ready to update or change your plan as you move forward. No plan can completely survive contact with reality.

Having a marketing plan serves two important purposes: it gives you a goal to aim toward, and it gives you something to measure along the way, ensuring that you stay on track and letting you know what’s working and what isn’t.

2.    Think About What’s New in Your Area

A good way to attract a new customer’s attention is to get it before they leave home in the first place. Create content (a simple web page update can be enough) highlighting something new in your town or community. When Mr. or Mrs. Snowbird fire up their Google machines looking forward to their trip down south, they are likely to be looking for something different than what they’ve already seen and done. Remember, for many people this area is a second home, and they are going to want to know what’s been happening at ‘home’ while they were away.

3.    Highlight What’s Unique About Your Business

Again, this may seem like general marketing advice, but it can be particularly appropriate when communicating with people who have already visited many of your competitors. Many of our visitors will be looking to try something new this time around, and this can be a great opportunity to call attention to that special something about your product or service – your ambience, your location, your staff, your sense of humor, your history; whatever it is that separates you from the other local businesses that may at first seem like they are doing the same thing as you. Of course, you know that nobody does it quite like you.

4.    Showcase User-Generated Content

If you have customer reviews or – even better – pictures of actual customers enjoying your product or service, be sure to bring those to the forefront. This is a great opportunity to go beyond content on your website and start pushing things out via blogs or social media posts. Word-of-mouth advertising is just as effective as it ever was, and the internet provides a great opportunity for your former and current customers to connect with potential future customers. You can be the medium for that communication. This can be particularly helpful if your happy customers were also visitors from out of town.

5.    Find Your Target Customer and Cater Your Message to Them

This is powerful stuff, but it’s not always easy. Just like you want to highlight what’s unique about you and your business, you also want to speak as directly as you can to your unique customer. Does your business appeal especially to women? To men? To senior citizens? Millennials? Is there a particular income level your customers are likely to enjoy? A particular lifestyle? Are there other products or services your target customer is likely to consume? Think about your current and former customers. What do they have in common?

Use these tips this season and see if you can find yourself a bigger share of the local tourist market. You may find that not everything works the way you hoped, but that’s okay. Go back to your marketing plan and adjust it accordingly. Learning what doesn’t work can be just as helpful as learning what does. Over time, you’ll create a more specific, targeted plan that you can repeat each year and scale to reach even more customers the next time around.

If you feel like you need some help – or maybe just some advice – contact Citrus Business Boosters and schedule a free consultation. We’re always here to help.

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