Caring is sharing… which is why I like Pinterest. This latest social media trend is great for interacting with your customers and creating brand awareness. And the good news is its user base is growing at a phenomenal rate; no longer solely belonging to the realm of the American hipster, even my Mum has become an avid pinner.
It’s really starting to catch on in the hospitality world too – for example, hoteliers looking to showcase their pictoral wares can project the vibe of their hotel, as well as the usual rooms available, window views and food on offer. But as well as using it to market your brand, you can also use it to find inspiration for your next marketing campaign, menu or website design.
Any business person, marketer, designer (and so on) has to get inspiration for their marketing techniques from somewhere. Rarely does an idea appear out of thin air. Design inspiration stems from magazines, our competitors, images we store in our head from popular culture, our friends and the latest book you’re reading, to name but a few places. To borrow from Barthes’ literary theory, the author is dead – we don’t come up with unique ideas, we are merely conduits for existing ideas, which we then shape for our own purposes. For good marketing we need good ideas and good ideas come from… other people.
Social media and the internet in general have made it really easy to keep up with all the latest trends, and find these good ideas from other people which we can ‘borrow’ or be inspired by. Here are some of my favourite places and ways to find free marketing ideas and inspiration.
Watch the competition
Sign up to your competitor’s newsletters, and be aware of their marketing techniques. If they’re doing something good, don’t steal the idea; find inspiration in it to do something better!
Know your industry
For example, if you’re a restaurant, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for innovative marketing whenever you go out to eat, and if you see something good…
If you see something inspiring, take a picture of it for later. Use Instagram (http://instagr.am/ ) or Pinterest on your smart phone to store your pictures, or if you don’t have a camera to hand, keep a notebook with you to jot down ideas.
Check out Pinterest
Pinterest makes it really easy to focus your inspiration hunt. You can search pins and pinboards by category, and once you find pins you like you repin them to your own boards, creating an online mood board of potential marketing ideas. Some boards we like:
Follow business, brands and individuals you admire to take daily inspiration direct from the horse’s mouth, or use ‘discover’ to search for new twitterers to follow.
Sign up to newsletters and RSS feeds
For daily inspiration check out these sites and sign up to their newsletters…
Subtitled ‘where ideas and people meet’, Fast Company are a business media brand specialising in technology and design. It’s not hospitality-specific but sometimes inspiration for your industry is best served from another. Look at how retail outlets market something for example, and work out how you can apply it to your business – if supermarkets have cross-sell points for corkscrews in the wine aisle, think about how you can cross-sell services on your website, or at your reception desk or bar.
Mashable is a website dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology. They like infographics (which plays into the current obsession for marketing data) and they’re prolific on Pinterest. One of their recent infographics looks at the evolution of online travel (http://mashable.com/2012/02/21/online-travel-infographic/)
Zite is a personal magazine for your iphone or ipad. It collates information and news relevant information to you according to your interests. For example, you can specify that you’re interested in social media marketing and the hospitality industry so that it feeds you articles on these topics. You can then rate what you read so that the magazine gets even smarter at filtering your content.
A weekly design magazine. It just so happens that one of the February issues was devoted entirely to Pinterest.
Industry-specific – online hotel marketing news delivered to your inbox daily, keeping you abreast of all the latest trends.
And of course, don’t forget our very own Brightbox, Ignite’s Newsletter keeping you informed of hospitality trends, and feeding you marketing information and website design inspiration.