Should I still be spending money on tickets, coupons, brochures, & posters?
With things like Facebook ads, Twitter followers, e-mail marketing lists, and other digital marketing options, we have options other than paying to have thousands of coupons, brochures and posters printed every year. Does that mean that printed material has become obsolete and should be removed from our marketing plan?
Even though our digital marketing efforts should be one of the key components of our marketing plan, I personally think that printed material can still play a key part in our success if done correctly.
In order for printed materials to have a significant impact, they need to be very high quality in order to make that connection to the public. When someone has never visited your facility, they will rely on the images you use and the way those images paint a picture of what they will experience if they visit. When someone looks at any of your printed materials they will immediately form an opinion about everything that you do. Right or wrong, that opinion will be hard to change. Be sure that your materials tell the story of what a guest will experience if they visit your farm and that everything you print is done with the highest degree of professionalism. Once you have designed and printed the materials you will use, it’s time to decide the best way to use them.
In all of our years of running an Agritourism venue, we have always spent money on creating a great looking admission ticket. They were roughly the size of a sporting event ticket on glossy card stock. Early on, when we charged individually for everything we offered, we used these tickets for our guests to gain admission to our mazes. Even after we transitioned to a gate fee, we kept printing these great looking tickets to help with our marketing efforts in the following ways:
Our sponsors would be given quantities of these tickets that they could give out to customers or employees as part of their sponsorship package.
We would give them out to media outlets in our press kits
We would give them to store owners who were willing to pass out our coupons or put up a poster
Great to use for customer service if someone had a bad experience and you want to encourage them to come back.
Used for radio station or other ticket giveaways or contests.
Provided another way to promote your sponsors by listing them on the back of each ticket.
Yes - many of these things could also be addressed with the use of an e-ticket, but I feel there are still strong marketing advantages to having these tangible physical tickets available for your use even if you have an e-ticket system in place for your normal online purchases.
One of the things we use often for promotional purposes is a dollar off coupon. Again, if we look solely at that extra dollar we could have charged, we miss an important part of marketing. When people feel that they have received a value for something they would have paid for anyway, it raises the level of their opinion of your business. And again, this may have been the first exposure they have to what you have to offer. They may have never intended to visit and now they are, and may even bring many more guests with them. And don’t underestimate the value of getting your name out there. It may pop back into their head at a future date and their curiosity will drive them to come out and visit!
Coupons are used in a variety of methods. From just visiting an establishment and leaving the coupons for people to take, to specifically targeting a group of individuals. We have often used coupons to appeal to our local college students. Most colleges have personal mailboxes for all of their students in a centralized location. We have found success by presenting our business as a positive activity for their students and they in turn have put our coupons in every single mailbox. Don’t overlook the power of the physical coupon!
Be sure to target local businesses that already have the clientele you are looking to attract. Give them some tickets in exchange for making these coupons available. Back when I started, this was one of the main ways to get the word out about your business. Although electronic coupons through social media and other outlets have now likely surpassed the effectiveness of physical coupons, I believe they still have their place on your marketing plan especially for those just starting and trying to get exposure in their community.
Coupons are also great for putting into birthday party gift bags, field trip packets for the kids, purchases in your market during the off-season, etc.
Brochures are usually the most expensive piece of our printed material and are used in a more strategic and limited way. They are ideal when we are dealing with someone who is seen as a key organizational person who makes decisions for a group of people. Teachers, youth leaders, and club organizers will benefit from the content of information when they are making plans for a group of people. Of course the website will have all of the same information, but the brochure is most useful for mailings, media kits, and for use in an informational packet. You may also choose to use them at tourist centers, rest areas, and anywhere that racks are provided for local tourist attractions. Again, it is crucial that your brochure makes people excited to experience all that you have to offer, whether that brochure is electronic or printed!
Electronic brochures have come a long way and should also be a part of your marketing plan as well, but there are still those situations and that target demographic that respond better to a physical brochure. I would expect that each year you will need to print less and less of the physical brochure, but it still has its place for now.
Posters may have outlived their usefulness, in my opinion. It is getting harder and harder to find places that will allow you to put up a poster in a high traffic area. If you are just starting out and needing to get your name out and are willing to put in the time, it can still have an impact. You may get 1 yes for every 20 requests, but it could still be worth the effort. The places we have found to be receptive to posters are colleges, gas stations, and our own sponsors. Be sure to sweeten the deal with a couple free tickets to the store owner and you will see your success rate jump significantly. Just be sure to specify how long you are asking them to keep the poster up in exchange for the free tickets.
There are established Agritourism businesses finding great success in only using digital marketing, but I believe that printed materials still have a key role in a solid marketing strategy – at least for now.