Written By: Michelle Fee, Founder & CEO, Cruise Planners
How would you finish this sentence? The purpose of marketing is to… Attract new customers? Drive sales? Both may be true, and both responses put your business at the center of your marketing efforts. But, where does your customer fit into the equation? What if instead, you finished the sentence like this: The purpose of marketing is to provide value to your customer.
While focusing on the bottom line is important, it should not be done at the expense of your customer. By adopting a customer-first mindset and leveraging available technology, you can create a sales and marketing strategy benefiting both your customers and your business.
Three Steps to a Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy
A customer-centric marketing plan can be broken down into three simple stages:
1. Attract – creating content to reach your ideal customer
2. Engage – communicating with potential customers in a meaningful way
3. Delight – continuing to provide value after a purchase
It is important to note the process does not end after the third stage. Instead, it continues to repeat itself, with delighted customers making additional purchases and ultimately becoming advocates for your business. By continuing this loop, you will see your business grow.
Let’s look at each stage and some real examples of how you can provide value to your customers every step of the way.
Attract: Reaching Your Ideal Customer
During the attract stage, you are looking to build awareness of your product and brand and attract your ideal customer. This is accomplished in large part through content creation such as social media posts, videos, email campaigns and an informative website. When creating content, you should focus on quality over quantity. Remember, always keep your customer in mind and create content that provides value for them.
At Cruise Planners we create a ton of marketing content on our travel advisors’ behalf designed to provide valuable information and get our advisors’ name in front of the right customer at the right time. Here are a few examples.
Modern, Informative Websites
Your website plays a critical role in attracting clients. It should be visually compelling, easy to navigate and informative. At Cruise Planners, all our travel advisors get their own website packed with useful content to help clients find the right vacation for them. Our websites have an easy-to-use booking engine, are mobile friendly and are designed with the customer in mind.
Video continues to be a powerful and engaging medium for attracting customers. That’s why we developed the Cruise Planners Video Network. We provide our advisors professionally created, branded travel videos housed on their website and easily shareable across all social channels. These stunning videos grab attention and provide valuable information to potential clients.
Full Sails Direct Mail Program
With our Full Sails direct mail program, we offer up to 23 beautifully designed and informative campaigns annually to our advisors’ potential customers. This program is completely hands-free, meaning we create it, print it and mail it, all customized with our agent’s contact information. We also supply 250 free names and mailing addresses to help attract the right customers.
Engage: Communicating in a Meaningful Way
Once you have attracted potential customers, the next step is to engage them in a meaningful way. This could be by email, phone, or even automation. Whatever the engagement channel, your attention should be on providing solutions for your client, not just products. You should also focus on reducing points of friction and making the sales process as seamless as possible. This is how you will ultimately foster loyal clients and earn repeat business.
At Cruise Planners, we provide our advisors tools so they can engage with their clients in meaningful ways and deliver the right message at the right time.
CP MAXX: A Proprietary CRM
CP MAXX is our proprietary, all-in-one customer relationship management (CRM) system. From within CP MAXX, our advisors can compare cruise options, book a flight, look up customer information, send emails, run reports and more from any computer or smart device. This allows them to quickly get information and provide value for their clients, making the sales process easy and efficient.
Cruise sheets allow clients to easily compare prices and amenities of various cruise options. With the click of a button, our advisors can automatically generate and send these virtual sale sheets, customized to the client’s interest. The client can directly compare options and even book straight from the cruise sheet, again making the process seamless.
Our Cruise Watcher tool scours pricing every night for every ship and sailing date in our system and notifies our advisors if a price drops. That way, our advisors can go to their client and tell them a trip is now within their budget or that they can save even more on a trip they’ve been considering. This is a huge value add for the customer and goes a long way in building loyalty.
Delight: Continue to Provide Value
After a client has made a purchase, your interaction with them should not stop. Keeping customers happy and making them feel supported is just as important as attracting new customers. By continuing to delight and provide value to your existing customers, you are encouraging repeat business and referrals which are key to growing sales.
At Cruise Planners, we have many tools designed to delight existing customers that help foster loyalty and repeat business, such as our consumer mobile app.
Once a client has booked a trip, our advisors can automatically generate personalized, digital itineraries that provide detailed information about each stop on the client’s trip. This is an additional touch point where our advisors can demonstrate their value and increase customer loyalty.
Customer Mobile App
We’ve built a mobile app designed specifically for our advisors’ customers. From the palm of their hand, clients can access upcoming trip details, make payments and book future travel. The app even has built-in destination guides and an integration with Yelp so clients can explore activities in the destinations they are visiting.
Data is power when it comes to putting the right message in front of the right person. Our CP Insights tool allows our advisors to see granular data on specific itineraries, including an average price breakdown by cabin type, a breakdown of the average age of passengers, and a list of suggested clients from their database who might be most interested in the trip. This allows our advisors to promote future trips to a client matching their specific interests.
The Process Doesn’t Stop
As was mentioned in the beginning, it’s important to remember a customer-centric marketing and sales journey is not linear; it’s a continual looping process. By focusing on how you can provide value for both current and future customers, you can grow your business in a way that is beneficial to your customers and your bottom line.