By Angelica Von Seyfried
(Editor’s note, at NAJ’s recent eTourism Marketing international day during the RTO Summit West in Los Angeles, the author, who is content manager at the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, made the following well-received presentation on “Smarketing.” We’ve made some minor changes in re-formatting it for the Inbound Report.)
Smarketing—What is it? Smarketing refers to the unity between an organizations marketing and sales teams developed through increased communication between the two groups. In business, new buzzwords get bounced around all the time. One such word you may be hearing more of is Smarketing, but what exactly is it?
Simply put, smarketing is all about the merging of departments, it’s a culture, an attitude, a spirit of collaboration that essentially takes a holistic view of the organizations goals.
Traditionally, sales and marketing teams haven’t had the best track records for collaboration and communications so doing away with the traditional barriers that exist between the two departments is one of the most beneficial things that an organization can do.
For one, it makes money. According to a study done by the Aberdeen Group research firm, organizations with tightly aligned marketing and sales teams increased their annual revenue growth by 20 percent.
Overall, companies that really embraced the idea of Smarketing not only found increased profitability but also increased morale, greater efficiency and improved customer service.
As one can see, there is definitely value in getting the two departments to play nice and collaborate with one another.
How can someone start implementing a Smarketing mentality within their organization? They could start with something as simple as hosting a meeting between the two teams. Create an open forum meeting where the sales and marketing teams come together and share ideas, customer insight, helpful analytics and more.
At L.A. Tourism, the marketing professionals sat down with its sales team and simply asked, “How can marketing help?” and the response they got was tremendous. They quickly learned that the sales team was an excellent resource to help us understand our audience and clue us into what type of content will actually spark their interest the most.
The sales team shared their client’s top questions and concerns and the marketing team then took that feedback and tailored their content strategy so that it aligned with the interests of their target audience. Marketers want their content and campaigns to educate and inspire their audience and the open and consistent communication between the two departments is integral to that happening.
The Power of Social Media and Social Selling: The biggest question L.A. Tourism’s marketing professionals got from the sales team was “How can we become better at using social media to interact with clients?”
Social media is one of the most powerful channels for marketing and sales. It’s transformed the way we communicate with our audience and it’s become an integral platform in generating leads in addition to increasing overall brand awareness. It is important that sales and marketing teams to have a consistent, informed approach to their social media efforts and really embrace the idea of social selling.
Social selling is all about strategically using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to help in building relationships with current customers and potential clients. And it’s about making connections and sharing the content that your audience will find most helpful about your destination.
Platforms like LinkedIn Sale Navigator and twitter are great because they allow users to promote their professional brand, focus on the right prospects, stay informed with insights, and build trusted relationships.
Go Where Your Customers Are: A few ways to help a DMO’s teams get on-board with social selling is by helping them to set up a professional, work-related social accounts if they don’t have them already. Encourage them to posts updates and exciting news on their channels and interact with their audience using brand appropriate messaging. Also, they should be encouraged to connect with their clients on multiple channels. As the saying goes “Go where your customers are,” and nowadays a lot of folks look to social media during their booking process to see what the destination is all about. And lastly, integrate relevant content and new media into our outreach. Instead of sending a generic follow-up email, why not send a new article or video along with your message. And speaking of new media…
The Future—Virtual Reality—is Now:
Virtual Reality can be described as an immersive multimedia technology and the total revenue for the virtual reality (VR) industry is projected to increase from $5.2 billion in 2016 to over $162 billion in 2020, according to the IDC.
This past summer, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board partnered with a company called XPlorit to create a virtual reality platform designed with meeting professionals in mind. Virtual Discovery LA features immersive, 360 views of over 50 uniquely Los Angeles m event spaces, destinations and attractions! You can seem some of them below.
Los Angeles has entertainment venues, restaurants, cultural attractions and outdoor destinations. Equipped with this tool, meeting planners can break out of the boardroom and explore the city’s expansive inventory of unique spaces.
With its new Virtual Reality presentation, Los Angeles is able to stay ahead of the curve and present our destination in a memorable, fun and innovative way, and L.A. Tourism has had great success in implementing the Virtual Reality tour at trade shows. By taking headsets to events and demonstrating the tour during presentations, the bureau has seen an increase in one-on-one interactions plus long lines of people wanting to experience virtual reality based purely on the novelty of the technology.
With Virtual Reality, L.A. Tourism has also been able to streamline its site tour process. Now, when its client services team first starts working with a customer, it encourages them to introduce the client to the Virtual Reality platform and discover what LA has to offer before they get here so that when they do arrive, they already have an idea of what they want to see.
The Human Factor Remains: Despite the omnipresence of digital technologies and social media, face-to-face interactions between clients and a salesperson can never be replaced. But, in order for destinations to be more appealing to their clients, they need to have intertwine digital technology into their approach because nowadays, the most successful interactions combine live human engagement and virtual connectivity. So, Smarketers must continue to collaborate, continue to communicate and continue to explore new ways to engage with their audience.