Comment: Take it back to your audience

Who are you targeting and who are they influenced by?

Louise Oakley is an independent editorial consultant specialising in the hospitality industry and the director of PR at In2 Consulting.
Louise Oakley is an independent editorial consultant specialising in the hospitality industry and the director of PR at In2 Consulting.

In crowded and competitive hotel and F&B marketplaces, such as Dubai and Doha, it is easy to get swept up in the latest marketing and PR trends, without properly analysing whether these are aligned with your communications goals. Brands and outlets are so eager to get their name out there — anywhere — that a broad reach approach often seems best. It’s understandable; if your competitors use a multitude of channels to reach thousands of people, why shouldn’t you?

With bloggers, influencers, ambassadors and celebrities now as established communications channels as TV, radio, print and email, there are numerous mediums to choose from. However, this doesn’t mean that they will all work for your business or that they should all be used at one time.

A common assumption is that any coverage is better than none — whether this be listings in a magazine, shares on Facebook or mentions on the radio —but if this coverage does not reach your desired customer, what is the point of it? As operators, you are likely to put pressure on your marketing team or communications consultancy to secure this sort of coverage. After all, increased exposure brings with it an expectation of increased business. However, if the communication is not to the right people, the impact may only be minimal —and that will likely send you marching into the marketing manager’s office, demanding an explanation.

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This is why, before we get excited about new channels, which in this digital age are likely to continually emerge and evolve, operators need to be clear about who they are targeting.

It’s often a good idea to work backwards and do this in three simple steps: identify your audience, agree what you want to tell this audience and then, work out which channel will get this message across to this group most effectively.

Remember also, that audiences may change depending on your business objectives, the lifecycle of your brand or the needs of your latest promotion, so who you target and how you target them in 2017 may differ from the approach in 2016.

When did you last engage in a stakeholder mapping exercise or review profiles of your target customer? Are the clients that were most influential three years ago still relevant now? Do they even still exist? All these are important questions to ask, before starting the complicated process of channel selection.

Also, while it’s easy to become almost obsessive over social media channels and your presence on these, some of the more traditional marcomms channels still play a valuable role. It’s often a mistake to assume you can reach everyone you need to via social, or that if they see you on social, they will engage with you. There are numerous studies and articles debating this topic in far more detail than I have space to do justice to here, but one important statistic to share is regarding word of mouth marketing (WOMM).

According to Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising Report, the most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. This means word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family are still the most influential, with 83% of consumers saying they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of those they know.

This is as relevant online as it is offline. After all, I may be mildly intrigued to see where the popstar of the moment dined on their latest visit to Dubai, but my dining decisions will only be influenced by my friend’s latest restaurant post, as she shares the same social group, tastes and budget as me.

It’s a simple example, but one worth keeping in mind to help navigate the ever-growing choice of channels available to us.

About the Author: Louise Oakley is an independent editorial consultant specialising in the hospitality industry and the director of PR at In2 Consulting. Email:

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