“I am a money whisperer,” announced Sandra McLemore. “You shouldn’t be afraid to make lots of money.”
Speaking at a morning breakout session of Travel MarketPlace West in Vancouver, the travel marketing expert shared with the audience of travel advisors her insights into what a successful marketing funnel for the travel business should look like, along with specific tactics to achieve that success.
The goal, said McLemore, is to get a constant stream of new customers. Even for people (and she admitted she’s one of them) who “hate the sales part.”
She described a successful marketing funnel as a framework to turn strangers into paying customers. And the marketing funnel that works for travel advisors, McLemore said, is the very same process used by “the cruise lines, the banks, and the place you bought those shoes.”
“I’m talking 100 new leads, ideal leads, your perfect client, coming into the top of your funnel every week.”
McLemore had advisors draw an upside-down triangle, and divide it into three parts with a top (widest) part, a middle part, and a bottom part (narrowest, down to the point).
The top of the funnel is about traffic and list-building. The middle part is about nurturing. And the point of the funnel at the bottom is the sale.
Trying to move a customer from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel – a sale – too fast is like asking someone to move in with you on a first date, McLemore said. “It’s a process, it’s about building that relationship first. When they know you and trust you, they’ll move themselves down the funnel to the sale.”
First, McLemore debunked the myth that social media posting was a top-of-funnel activity. “It will not bring you a ton of new clients,” she announced. “Do you still need to do it? Yes! But you do not have access to those people; the platform owns them. Building your email list is the only way to build your book of business.”
The health of your email list is directly linked to how much money you’ll make, she claimed, but quality is more important than size.
She recommends focusing only on engaged customers, and purges her own list regularly, striking the email of anyone who hasn’t opened one of her emails in the last 90 days.
The goal of top-of-funnel tactics is to get new people to provide their email addresses. McLemore cited attending bridal shows, doing social media advertising (not the same as posting), or partnering with related organizations, for example, a winery to promote a river cruise. The audience chimed in with examples of other successful practices, including hosting travel talks, and publishing lead magnets on Facebook.
Then, McLemore said, “It’s like dating. Getting to know each other.” At this point, engaging your database, building your credibility as an expert, and building the KLT – or “Know, Like, Trust” factor are an advisor’s goals.
This is where social media posting comes in. And one thing many advisors are wary of, “You must send fresh content to everyone in your funnel weekly. Religiously weekly,” McLemore said, regardless of whether, “you think you are organized enough, have something to say, or you worry about losing subscribers. If you do lose subscribers, they’ve done you a favor of realizing you’re not a good fit before you did,” and so you didn’t waste more resources on them.
“Fresh, weekly content” can come in any form, from blogs, to podcasts or video, whatever medium an advisor feels comfortable in, but it must be relevant to what you want to sell, added McLemore.
That’s “where the magic happens,” she says. And it’s what every travel advisor is looking for, that sale.
Post products and offers only when moving a potential customer from the middle to the bottom of the funnel, and not one moment before. “That’s not top-of-funnel activity.”
McLemore recommended not sending any offers, “for at least six email cycles – that’s six weeks of fresh, weekly content. Focus on the top and the middle, and the bottom will take care of itself,” she advised. “This is a formula to print money.
“In today’s climate, lots of people will stay in the middle of the funnel. Don’t try to push them to the bottom of the funnel. But (even in a tough business climate), you should still be adding constantly to the top of your funnel.”