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Every so often I get asked if it’s worth placing a print ad in a newspaper or magazine or a local tourism publication. It’s a reasonable question. Despite the primary focus on internet advertising, the classified section in many papers still seem to have a good population of vacation rental ads, perhaps fueling the debate that people still read and respond to them.
As a test, we recently placed a bulk ad that would appear in over 80 local newspapers in our region. It was fairly inexpensive which was a good thing, since the ad ran for four consecutive weeks and we didn’t get a single response – even with an offer of a $25 gas voucher with a booking. It proved a point I was trying to make, that this method of reaching our demographic has passed its time.
Print marketing is not solely classified advertising though. There are many other ways of using the media effectively – not only do people still read conventional print material but many publications are now easily accessible on the internet so still remain a good resource and object of your marketing energy.
Getting a story into your local newspaper, particularly if there is a picture of your property, is a great way of capturing interest. If the publication is on the web, it will give you a nice link you can use on your listing or web site, Twitter and Facebook accounts so it makes it a valuable marketing piece. You just need to find a story angle to attract a local journalist which shouldn’t be difficult given most rural newspapers are eager to find local interest stories.
Tourism Association Brochures
If you are in a popular area and have an active tourist association you could consider taking an ad in one of their annual publications. Apart from the long shelf life, you will be tapping into their wider marketing activities since the larger ones will distribute their materials at travel shows and other relevant exhibitions as well as displaying prominently in their local outlets. However, since many people pick up these brochures while they are already on vacation, you may be reaching the market too late so need to think about the cost benefits of this one carefully.
This is probably the most cost effective method of offline marketing since printing is fairly inexpensive and you can do your own design using standard programs on a PC or Mac. A simple one-sided leaflet is all you really need – it doesn’t have to go into too much detail but should have a great color photo of the property, your listing or web site, phone number, and some basic pricing information. Business cards are useful too and you should always carry them. Casual conversations in a supermarket line-up or the dentist waiting room can often turn into a marketing opportunity.
Getting your vehicle branded has several advantages if you are on the road and parked in public places a lot. It makes it a moving piece of advertising; can often attract people to ask questions, and can have tax benefits if your vacation rental is an established business and your car is being used as a business marketing tool. I spoke to one owner recently who had done this – he said it generated a lot of interest and he was being asked for brochures/leaflets regularly when he was parked in town.
Success with conventional classified advertising may be limited, but it’s worth considering other print options. As long as you have some way of measuring effectiveness and are able to identify where your enquiries have originated from, it’s a valuable addition to your overall marketing strategy.
Heather Bayer is Director of Owner Community at VacationHomeRentals.com. She has been renting her vacation homes for over 20 years and is author of the book Renting Your Recreational Property for Profit