Work Media has been doing some business with a company in the destination lodging industry and they have, like everyone else in the industry, an interesting and difficult problem that I think is probably going to be more prevalent across other industries over time – the problem is well-funded, much larger competitors crowding them out – crowding them out of search rankings and obtaining traffic that should be their’s. In this case, it’s companies like Expedia and Travelocity that are both crowding the search results and becoming such dominant players that companies like our client have no choice but to get leads from them.
Interestingly, in this case, most people don’t realize they get the same deal just by working directly with the company in the first place.
We’re finding that there are two strategies which the local companies need to utilize in order to fight back. These strategies are being local and being social. Local optimization and social media marketing. Expedia is not a travel agency located in Miami, Florida. It is not a hotel located in Nashville Tennessee. That Nashville, Tennessee hotel has an advantage from a local search perspective because it has a local address which can appear on Google maps and thus can have a strong presence in Google Places. Similarly, that Nashville hotel can build a following and an audience for itself on Facebook, Twitter and other social media properties. It can have a personality specific to its market. It can have a conversation. It can be of much greater use and value to those looking for a Nashville hotel than Travelocity or the other large travel aggregators.
So the key to competing against these types of much larger, better funded organizations is to combine aggressive SEO with strong local optimization and very systematic social media marketing. If you want to take it even farther than that, you mix in paid search and e-mail marketing – the two other components that can add even greater leverage to the overall package of strategies.
In this particular post we’re not going to go into the details of local search optimization or Facebook marketing. But needless to say, just do it. Go set up a Google places account. Set up a Facebook account. Set up a Twitter account. Start updating these accounts daily. Even if initially you don’t have any friends or fans, you got it started.