Senior's Solutions
Showbiz or real biz?

Dramatic advertising campaigns might grab people’s attention, but there’s no substitute for a clear, logical strategy when it comes to long-term results, argues Grahame Senior

By Grahame Senior | Published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 3


Having spent a lifetime in the business of marketing communications, I’ve come to realise that when it comes to the creative approach to communicating, there are two tribes. The showbiz persuasion loves dramatic, startling, even sometimes shocking headlines or images designed to grab attention and get your involvement. I myself veer more towards the real biz approach, which is fundamentally functional.

The principles of effective communication down this route involve four stages: contact; connection; content/communication; and function/fulfilment. It’s a hardworking and functional route to effective communication that locks into the potential customer and delivers what they need to know. It may not be the most exciting, fun-filled, award-winning approach but it does deliver results.

SHOCK AND AWE OR COMMON SENSE?
If you favour the showbiz approach, you may well find this boring. After 40 years in the strategic advertising business, I have plenty of experience of those who get their kicks from ground-breaking slogans and campaigns. You could call them the FCUK tribe. The key to their approach is a shocking headline or image which grabs attention. Very often it works really well and gets talked about a lot to start with. It doesn’t, however, always deliver the long-term brand value or the cost-effective communications required.

For some it may be sad, but it’s a simple fact that logical, consistent work often pays better dividends than sky rockets of excitement and style.

If you’re in the independent part of the hospitality business, you might do well to take note of the recent statement made by Andy Harrison, the chief executive of Whitbread. Whitbread no longer makes beer but has become a fantastic business by satisfying the nation’s need for quality coffee and fulfilling a mission to provide the traveller with economical quality accommodation without fuss. Costa Coffee and Premier Inns are the two leading practitioners in their fields.

Harrison stated in his annual report that Whitbread intends to increase its share of UK bed nights massively. Their communication is very simple, but they do connect with their markets both by their omnipresent units and also by clear, simple advertising messages. The consumer is left in little doubt that if you want quality accommodation at a sensible cost you’d be a fool to look further than Premier Inns. Fighting back against that means independent hotels need some very clear strategies to achieve a distinctive edge.

A CLEAR STRATEGY
Who do you want to talk to, what do they want to hear, what will make you special to them? If you want to stand out then you have to define your market and research what they’re looking for.

Clearly the most important market for you is the market you already have. Analysing and defining the character of your market by geographic or socioeconomic criteria is an easy thing to do and it will tell you quite clearly who currently finds your offer attractive.

Having decided who your target market is, you have to work out where they are and how you can reach them. Current customers, of course, are best reached by mailing either physically or electronically. One group for whom electronic mailing does work is those people with whom you have a current relationship. In such circumstances, getting the data accurate and the message absolutely clear is vital.

If on the other hand you want to reach new markets, you have to find a way to stand out and be noticed.

What is it about your establishment or service offer that is distinctive or uniquely appealing? Trying to be all things to all people seldom works and is really hard to believe. Delivering a clear offer backed up by a unique selling proposition is much more effective.

BUILDING A UNIQUE PERSONALITY
Modern media communications deliver a much broader range of opportunities for reaching the market than used to be the case. It’s also less expensive than it once was. The most effective communications campaigns are more ‘costly’ in terms of effort and brainwork than they are in financial terms.

If you want to reach a particular market with a particular message, the single most effective and believable media route is through editorial media coverage; good old fashioned PR. Appearing in a feature in a national newspaper and then being covered in the relevant web pages will work wonders. It’s also vital to merchandise your particular benefit. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all effective ways to get the message across.

BE EASY TO GET TO KNOW
The single most important resource a property has after the establishment/service delivery itself is the website. If the website delivers the character you are trying to put across, is user friendly and completely up to date, it will work for you. If it isn’t, it will work against you. If the atmosphere, benefits and service offering your establishment wants to become known for are not clearly evident on the website itself you will not attract the potential visitors you want.

THE EXPERIENCE
A defining characteristic of the hospitality and leisure sector is that what we are actually selling is an experience. The written/electronic/visual communication is all designed to achieve a heightened sense of expectation. The final act takes place on site. It’s therefore vital that the consistent character that underlines and emphasises your unique selling proposition is delivered at the point of experience.

Effective delivery needs people. The most important aspect of your communication to your market is the way your team behaves. It’s vital that your communications message and your unique character is understood and believed by the team. If they don’t stay on-message with every experience for every guest, your communications will fall short.

The proof of the pudding, as they always say, is in the eating.


How to communicate with common sense
The first thing is to decide exactly what your key unique selling proposition is going to be and also precisely the market you’re aiming for. You then go through a four-stage process.

1 Make contact. Put your message in the right place for the right market, whether it’s on the web, through advertising or through media coverage.

2 Make a connection. Make it plain in your communication who you are talking to and that this message applies to them.

3 Deliver the right contents. Put across the message – whether it’s pricing, added value, special menus, exclusive room features, targeted activities – give the information that will make them sit up and take notice.

4 Finish with a clear action point to complete communication. Whether written response, a telephone call, a promotional action, a web registration – stimulate the right market to give the right reaction.

If you follow this four-stage process, your message will be clear. Being consistent and putting across the same point via all communications routes will help you get the point across.

A modern practitioner who really understands the game

Côte – clean, clear professionalism

If Premier Inns is something of a threatening spectre to the independent hotel sector, Côte delivers the same professionalism in the restaurant sector. From website to telephone greeting, from first impressions on entering the restaurant to the way they deliver the menu choices, Côte follows a highly trained and detailed formula.

It looks simple but it’s the result of a great deal of thorough professional work and a top class induction/staff training programme. Their message is really simple. They deliver affordable, accessible, quality food in a consistent and modern manner and the customer comes first.

Next time you’re wandering down a high street, have a look at Côte and contrast it with that earlier incarnation of the bistro-brasserie – Café Rouge.

It stands out a mile – Côte is of today and Café Rouge somehow seems a little yesteryear. The difference between them, from website to outlet presentation to greeting, is great communication.

 



Côte has a consistent formula which is communicated clearly
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Leisure Management
2013 issue 3

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Leisure Management - Showbiz or real biz?

Senior's Solutions

Showbiz or real biz?


Dramatic advertising campaigns might grab people’s attention, but there’s no substitute for a clear, logical strategy when it comes to long-term results, argues Grahame Senior

Grahame Senior

Having spent a lifetime in the business of marketing communications, I’ve come to realise that when it comes to the creative approach to communicating, there are two tribes. The showbiz persuasion loves dramatic, startling, even sometimes shocking headlines or images designed to grab attention and get your involvement. I myself veer more towards the real biz approach, which is fundamentally functional.

The principles of effective communication down this route involve four stages: contact; connection; content/communication; and function/fulfilment. It’s a hardworking and functional route to effective communication that locks into the potential customer and delivers what they need to know. It may not be the most exciting, fun-filled, award-winning approach but it does deliver results.

SHOCK AND AWE OR COMMON SENSE?
If you favour the showbiz approach, you may well find this boring. After 40 years in the strategic advertising business, I have plenty of experience of those who get their kicks from ground-breaking slogans and campaigns. You could call them the FCUK tribe. The key to their approach is a shocking headline or image which grabs attention. Very often it works really well and gets talked about a lot to start with. It doesn’t, however, always deliver the long-term brand value or the cost-effective communications required.

For some it may be sad, but it’s a simple fact that logical, consistent work often pays better dividends than sky rockets of excitement and style.

If you’re in the independent part of the hospitality business, you might do well to take note of the recent statement made by Andy Harrison, the chief executive of Whitbread. Whitbread no longer makes beer but has become a fantastic business by satisfying the nation’s need for quality coffee and fulfilling a mission to provide the traveller with economical quality accommodation without fuss. Costa Coffee and Premier Inns are the two leading practitioners in their fields.

Harrison stated in his annual report that Whitbread intends to increase its share of UK bed nights massively. Their communication is very simple, but they do connect with their markets both by their omnipresent units and also by clear, simple advertising messages. The consumer is left in little doubt that if you want quality accommodation at a sensible cost you’d be a fool to look further than Premier Inns. Fighting back against that means independent hotels need some very clear strategies to achieve a distinctive edge.

A CLEAR STRATEGY
Who do you want to talk to, what do they want to hear, what will make you special to them? If you want to stand out then you have to define your market and research what they’re looking for.

Clearly the most important market for you is the market you already have. Analysing and defining the character of your market by geographic or socioeconomic criteria is an easy thing to do and it will tell you quite clearly who currently finds your offer attractive.

Having decided who your target market is, you have to work out where they are and how you can reach them. Current customers, of course, are best reached by mailing either physically or electronically. One group for whom electronic mailing does work is those people with whom you have a current relationship. In such circumstances, getting the data accurate and the message absolutely clear is vital.

If on the other hand you want to reach new markets, you have to find a way to stand out and be noticed.

What is it about your establishment or service offer that is distinctive or uniquely appealing? Trying to be all things to all people seldom works and is really hard to believe. Delivering a clear offer backed up by a unique selling proposition is much more effective.

BUILDING A UNIQUE PERSONALITY
Modern media communications deliver a much broader range of opportunities for reaching the market than used to be the case. It’s also less expensive than it once was. The most effective communications campaigns are more ‘costly’ in terms of effort and brainwork than they are in financial terms.

If you want to reach a particular market with a particular message, the single most effective and believable media route is through editorial media coverage; good old fashioned PR. Appearing in a feature in a national newspaper and then being covered in the relevant web pages will work wonders. It’s also vital to merchandise your particular benefit. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all effective ways to get the message across.

BE EASY TO GET TO KNOW
The single most important resource a property has after the establishment/service delivery itself is the website. If the website delivers the character you are trying to put across, is user friendly and completely up to date, it will work for you. If it isn’t, it will work against you. If the atmosphere, benefits and service offering your establishment wants to become known for are not clearly evident on the website itself you will not attract the potential visitors you want.

THE EXPERIENCE
A defining characteristic of the hospitality and leisure sector is that what we are actually selling is an experience. The written/electronic/visual communication is all designed to achieve a heightened sense of expectation. The final act takes place on site. It’s therefore vital that the consistent character that underlines and emphasises your unique selling proposition is delivered at the point of experience.

Effective delivery needs people. The most important aspect of your communication to your market is the way your team behaves. It’s vital that your communications message and your unique character is understood and believed by the team. If they don’t stay on-message with every experience for every guest, your communications will fall short.

The proof of the pudding, as they always say, is in the eating.


How to communicate with common sense
The first thing is to decide exactly what your key unique selling proposition is going to be and also precisely the market you’re aiming for. You then go through a four-stage process.

1 Make contact. Put your message in the right place for the right market, whether it’s on the web, through advertising or through media coverage.

2 Make a connection. Make it plain in your communication who you are talking to and that this message applies to them.

3 Deliver the right contents. Put across the message – whether it’s pricing, added value, special menus, exclusive room features, targeted activities – give the information that will make them sit up and take notice.

4 Finish with a clear action point to complete communication. Whether written response, a telephone call, a promotional action, a web registration – stimulate the right market to give the right reaction.

If you follow this four-stage process, your message will be clear. Being consistent and putting across the same point via all communications routes will help you get the point across.

A modern practitioner who really understands the game

Côte – clean, clear professionalism

If Premier Inns is something of a threatening spectre to the independent hotel sector, Côte delivers the same professionalism in the restaurant sector. From website to telephone greeting, from first impressions on entering the restaurant to the way they deliver the menu choices, Côte follows a highly trained and detailed formula.

It looks simple but it’s the result of a great deal of thorough professional work and a top class induction/staff training programme. Their message is really simple. They deliver affordable, accessible, quality food in a consistent and modern manner and the customer comes first.

Next time you’re wandering down a high street, have a look at Côte and contrast it with that earlier incarnation of the bistro-brasserie – Café Rouge.

It stands out a mile – Côte is of today and Café Rouge somehow seems a little yesteryear. The difference between them, from website to outlet presentation to greeting, is great communication.

 



Côte has a consistent formula which is communicated clearly

Originally published in Leisure Management 2013 issue 3

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd