Category Archives: Email marketing

TimeTrade – An Appointment Scheduling Solution To Help Your Business Grow

TimeTrade

TimeTrade

I am always looking for ways to help you to become more productive and to manage your time more efficiently and effectively and I stumbled upon an online solution while reading an article about networking that can do just that.

It’s TimeTrade, an online appointment scheduling tool for business, that I invite you to take a look at.

It’s always a challenge to arrange appointments with your prospects but in sales, trying to get together with a prospect invariably means spending a great deal of time emailing or calling a prospect over a certain period of time.

Here are some cold hard appointment setting facts.

Out of say 100 prospects only three will agree to an appointment.  It will take you approximately two to 10 calls and/or emails and up to three months of calling and leaving voicemail messages BEFORE the three will agree to meet with you.

That’s a lot of time!

Wouldn’t it be great if you could provide your prospects with a way to make an appointment that is based upon both of your schedules?

That’s where TimeTrade comes in.

To get started with TimeTrade, you can sign up for a thirty-day free trial and select a “Professional” account for yourself or a “Workgroup” account if there are more associates who will be using the solution.  For this exercise I will review the Professional account and how it works.

After you have provided some basic contact information, you are ready to create an email through TimeTrade that you can send to one or a number of prospects. TimeTrade provides tutorial videos that can help shorten your learning curve and after you have viewed them you will have a pretty good idea of how the system works.

Your Dashboard

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 12.28.02 PMHere is a snapshot of your dashboard where you can send an email invitation, configure your personal information, appointment rules and connect your calendar with Outlook, iCal and Google calendar and a Help section that includes support forums, support topics and general information.

Step #1 – Sending an Email Invitation

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 12.36.13 PM

Click on the Send an Email Invitation button and you will be redirected to the purpose for your email invitation.  In the drop down menu you can select a number of options that describe the purpose of your invitation.  There are several options to choose from but basically you can invite your prospect to join you in a telephone conversation or a face-to-face meeting.  For this invitation I will use the phone call option to let the prospect know that I am following up with him based upon a previous conversations about one of my training workshop that we discussed last month.  I enter a description based upon the above and click the “Next” button at the bottom of the page.

Step #2 – Compose an Email Invitation

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 12.43.00 PM

In the Send To field you can type or cut and paste up to 40 email addresses. Since one of your objectives is to get the recipient to connect and make an appointment with you make sure that you have enough time blocked out in your calendar if you elect to send emails to a number of different recipients.  Keep in mind that if for some reason you are not available or can not handle a flood of responses, you could potentially lose a prospect.

In the Subject field simply type in the subject matter behind this email.  It could be anything from a follow up on to a recent email campaign or to discuss a prospect’s site for their next meeting or event.  Whatever the subject matter, make it compelling so the recipient will open your email.  Here are four email fails that you should avoid.

In the upper right-hand corner choose the duration of your call or meeting from the drop down menu, provide the day(s) and time(s) that you are available, and choose the additional options as provided in the the options field.  When you are finished with these five steps and have composed your message, click the send button.

Once you have sent the email you will be redirected to an activity page that will show you the results of your email invitation, when it was sent and which recipients have or have not replied to your invitation.

Screen shot 2013-07-17 at 1.18.58 PM

There are other appointment scheduling tools that are available such as Genbook, FullSlate, Acuity Scheduling, BookFresh and Appointron that also may be viable options to help you to better manage your appointment scheduling needs.

What appointment scheduling tools are you currently using?  Are they providing you with the type of client engagement that you anticipated?  Feel free to add your thoughts!

Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement firm, that helps hotels and their sales managers grow their business and generate more revenue.

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Filed under Email marketing, Technology solutions, Time management

The Secret To A Successful Marketing Campaign Is Not Your Value Propostion

When is your marketing campaign the most ineffective use of time, money, and resources for your hotel?

When your message only contains your value proposition.

Check the analytics of your last email campaign for instance.

How many opens did you get?  What percentage of your emails were unopened?  What was your response rate?  Did you see any click-throughs?

If the answers were low, high, none, and no, keep reading.

The secret to a successful marketing is much more than just your value propostion

The secret to a successful marketing campaign is driven by a message that will solve your customer’s problems.

Go back and read your last email blast and ask yourself what problems did your message solve?

Did you solve problems by telling prospective customers about your recent multi-million dollar renovation, a special discount on AV or that secluded Japanese soaking tub on a private balcony?

Those are value propositions and not problem solvers.

The message that your marketing campaign should convey must be in harmony with the thinking of your prospective customers. This means that you need to have enough understanding of your customers in order to determine their needs, worries, problems, and desires.

If you want to attract and engage prospective customers and lead them down the sales funnel, you need to focus on them and their problems.

The more your message helps to solve your customers problems, the more apt they are to respond to your message and move that much closer to a conversion.

So what problems are your customers struggling with?

Tomorrow morning might be the perfect time to pick up the phone and ask them.  If you don’t have the time to make that call then consider sending out a survey that will uncover more opportunities where you can identify what problems confront them (and ones that you can solve).

If your hotel has a blog, take a look at the search engine keywords that may help to uncover some clues.

If your hotel has a Twitter account, type in relevant keywords and look for comments or read articles from links provided that can help point you in the right direction.

You do read your TripAdvisor reviews don’t you?  What do guest reviews say about your hotel and what problems of theirs did your hotel solve?

Follow this link to find out other ways to use Social Media for customer research.

Here are some problems that customers may encounter on a business trip or while attending a meeting.  Does your hotel provide a solution to any of these problems?

  • Does your hotel’s reservation team provide the type of professional service and accuracy that customers expect and deserve?
  • Does your hotel front desk staff excel in providing check-in and check-out in a friendly, timely, courteous, and accurate fashion?
  • Does your Conference Services team stand up and deliver in all aspects of their duties?
  • Does your hotel staff consistently demonstrate that they are willing to do whatever it takes to exceed your customer’s expectations?
  • What do your former customers say about your hotel and do you share their testimonials with prospective customers?
  • Is your in-house AV provider the best in the business?
  • Does your hotel provide complimentary WiFi and is it readily excessible?
  • Does your Business Center provide more than just a copy and fax machine?
  • Does your hotel provide a complimentary shuttle service to/from airport/hotel and other areas within close proximity to your hotel?
  • Does your hotel offer complimentary and secured parking?

Do you need help crafting a marketing message that will solve your customer’s problems?

Send me an email and let’s discuss!

Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement consulting firm, that helps hotels and their sales managers grow their business and generate more revenue.

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Filed under Email marketing, Hotel Marketing

4 Email Fails That Sales Managers Must Avoid

Email is arguably the number one tool used for prospecting yet many hotel sales managers remain in the dark about how to harness this powerful tool’s full potential that can turn a cold contact into a lead.

Why?  

Because the key element, and one that will get the attention of your recipient, is that it must be about your prospect and what problems you and your hotel can solve for him.

What I see, from the hundreds of emails that I receive each year from hotel sales managers, is quite the opposite.

Here is just one example that includes all of the components of a typical email fail that hotel sales managers must avoid.

Subject: Looking for a new venue?

Greetings Tom,

I wanted to touch base with you and introduce myself as the Sales Manager, I am the primary contact for any guestrooms and event needs. I want to know how I might win your business and would like to hear your needs and priorities.  I’ve included some information on the XYZ Hotel, attached you will find:

§  Our XYZ Hotel Power Point on the Transformation

§  Our Latest Incentive

§  We offer specific Meeting Incentives, too!

To be inspired, I invite you to take a journey about XYZ Hotel’s warm, connected, community style, check out our website at http://www.xyzhotel.com.  I would love the opportunity to develop a memorable event for you, please let me know what is most important to you when selecting a hotel and if you have any upcoming hotel requests. 

Experience our relaxing environment while familiarizing your mind to endless potential with XYZ Hotel. XYZ has completed a fabulous transformation that I would love to update you on!  Please let me know when a convenient time might be that I may contact you to discuss.

Enjoy your day!

Fail #1 – A Weak Subject Line

Don’t assume that the email recipient is just sitting around waiting to receive your pitch so you have to catch their attention with something more impactful than “Looking for a new venue?”.  Since your profession is sales and not copywriting, it is important to know as much as 40 percent of a recipient’s decision to open an email is based on the subject as well as you, the sender.

If you want your email to be read, you should ask yourself the following questions before you start writing the content of your email.

  • Does the subject offer the prospect a reward for reading? (WII-FM What’s in it for me?)
  • Can specifics be included to make the email subject more intriguing, believable and credible?
  • Will the subject trigger a strongly positive, actionable emotion for the prospect?
  • Will the subject topic immediately resonate with prospect?
  • Could the email subject benefit from the inclusion of a proposed transaction?
  • Could an element of intrigue be added to drive the prospect into opening the copy?

You should spend half of the entire time that it takes to write a piece of persuasive content on your subject line. So if you have a message that is important to you and your hotel, one that you really want recipients to read, you should obsess over your subject line.

Here are some ideas about subject lines that you will want to avoid and subject lines that can increase your open rate.

Fail #2 – The Body of the Email

If I have seen one I have seen a thousand emails from hotel sales managers that sell the features and benefits of their hotel with the hope of enticing a prospect to pick up the phone and say “Golly gee, send me a contract!”.

Those of you who still pitch features and benefits instead of uncovering problems, suffer with this email blunder the most.  The problem is that features and benefits are not solutions, and you cannot present a solution until you find a need, and you cannot find a need until you unearth the problem.

Ask yourself are your email campaigns solving problems or are they providing information overload that leads a prospect to redirect your email to his trash folder?

Remember the line in the hotel sales manager’s email above that said I want to know how I might win your business and would like to hear your needs and priorities?”

When you send prospects an email pitch, don’t forget that it is your responsibility to move them through your sales pipeline.

The best way to “connect”, uncover a need, and win a piece of business is to PICK UP THE PHONE AND FIND OUT!

Fail #3 – Email Signature Essentials

Hotel sales managers do a pretty good job at including most of their important signature information such as name, title, hotel name, mailing address, phone, fax, email address, website address, tag line, and logo.  For those of you who don’t include these contact essentials, make a note to do so before your next email.

Since most of you have expressed the need to hop on the social media bandwagon, where in the world is your corporate Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn links?  If you are not banned by your hotel management company or corporate office from including such information, add it.

If you have Windows and are running Microsoft Outlook – the following link shows you how to set up your signature:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HP052427461033.aspx

If you have a Mac – the following link shows you how to set up your signature:
http://smokingapples.com/software/tips/html-signature-apple-mail/

Fail #4 – The Shotgun Approach

If you rely on a shotgun approach (pulling email addresses of current and prospective customers from your CRM system and sending them what you feel is a value proposition) you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Yes it is a numbers game, as far as you or your marketing department are concerned, but you will be clueless about the prospect’s potential if he does not respond to your message or value proposition.

The solution to this trigger happy approach is to pull the list from your system and divide it into three categories that starts with “A” (your high-target prospects) through “C” (those that have a lowest probability of converting).

On Wednesday or Thursday following the distribution of your email, PICK UP THE PHONE AND CALL your “A” and “B” lists to find out what their status is and if and when your hotel or destination might be under consideration and ask an additional question or two that can reveal other opportunities (another one of your hotels in another city perhaps).

If you have not received a response from your “C” list you can elect to call them or send them a point-and-click survey in thirty days (SurveyMonkey as an example) that can help to identify if you have any real chance of converting them now or in the not-too-distant future.

Email Fails are just one of the subjects I cover in my new workshop – Mapping the Course that is specifically designed to help hotel sales managers achieve their personal and professional goals.

Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement firm, that helps hotels and their sales managers grow their business and generate more revenue.

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Filed under Email marketing, marketing, Sales Strategies, Sales Tips