Position To Win: Play It Smart To Beat The Big Boys Online

As a small hospitality group with limited employees investing in internet marketing can seem daunting. It needn't - here's some great advice on how to compete in the digital space


Nick Pahl

As a small hospitality business with a handful of employees and a tight budget the world of internet marketing may seem more of a challenge than an opportunity.

Websites, social media, email marketing, SEO and Google Adwords – all the major players are doing these well. But as a smaller operator where do you invest your valuable time and resources for maximum impact? What knowledge and skills do you as a manager need to acquire or hire to succeed?

I’m here to tell you today that rather than go head to head with the larger players in online capacity you should instead focus your attention on improving the quality and innovative thinking behind your offer to ensure you can cut through those barriers and allow you to compete and win.

While it may seem a little daunting to the uninitiated, recent developments in internet technology such as the rise of social media are actually reducing barriers to entry for small hospitality businesses. Never before have so many millions of potential customers been accessible to you at such a low cost.

Making the most of these opportunities however and overcoming your barriers is more often a question of getting your positioning and strategy right and ensuring you have the right skills to deliver them:

It Starts With Insight

What attracted billionaire investor Mark Cuban to back the entrepreneurs behind Naked Pizza to enable expansion from a single test kitchen to a 300 franchise operation across the U.S in just 10 months? It wasn’t the model – Pizza delivery has been around for 30 years or more.

No it was the idea and insight underpinning it. Sensing a shift in American attitudes to fast food Naked’s founders developed a healthier pizza, one with no sugar or trans fats and about half the calories of the competition. The concept hit just the right notes for their modern middle America target – great tasting pizza that isn’t health food but not ‘super size me’ either.

TIP: Take the time to go back again and think deeply and honestly about your target market and what you’re offering them – even if the business is well established. Look at how to frame or evolve your offer and promotions in ways that will excite and delight them in the future.

Focus Your Strategy

In it’s first year Naked realised that their pizzas were getting people talking about healthy eating. They quickly identified twitter as a cost effective platform to take this conversation online and grow their customer base in the process.

They focused their entire online marketing effort in this early stage on twitter. Their one offline asset a was integrated. Their very first twitter only promotion resulted in 15% of total sales for the week, with 90% of those being new customers. They were onto a winning formula.

TIP: If using twitter make sure you inject lots of personality into it! People don’t buy from companies or brands, they buy from people. Put yourself out there as a champion of your organization and people will be more willing to buy.

Skill Up And Succeed

As a leader skilling up in this area is essential. Here are some available options to you:


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