Getting down to business: Selling to the right market
Who is your customer and how does that influence how you market to them?
All Blacks Tours, General Manager, David Caldwell, knows full well how to take a product and sell it to a particular audience. This company placed 5th on our 2016 Fast 50 index and were the Fastest Growing Retail or Consumer Products Business for Auckland and the Upper North Island.
Initially, his prime customers were niche rugby fans, but selling the 'destination over the product' has also allowed his business to appeal to a whole new demographic, including those who don't traditionally classify themselves as rugby fanatics.
We chatted with him about his approach to marketing and the ways he's adjusted his efforts to ensure his team can seize even more opportunities.
You’re selling to a niche market for those with a very keen interest in rugby. How does this affect your marketing efforts?
When we started All Blacks Tours the obvious marketing approach was to leverage the All Blacks brand to build awareness and appeal to a niche market of rugby fans. The majority of our marketing collateral was fronted by All Blacks imagery and IP, but lets be honest, its not hard to find an All Blacks fan in NZ as it’s in our DNA. We all feel we have ownership in the "peoples' team".
While our initial approach helped us communicate our position as Official Travel Partners of the All Blacks, we quickly discovered that there were opportunities beyond this niche market. As our understanding has grown, our marketing has evolved.
Do you actively aim to appeal to as many people as possible or focus more on those true rugby fans?
We have a saying that "the destination is the reason, rugby is the excuse”. We’ve found an increased demand from customers who may not necessarily classify themselves as 'rugby fanatics' but want to experience a overseas destination first and foremost and the ability to experience an All Blacks game in a 'bucket list' destination is the icing on the cake.
Products closer to NZ have much more appeal to the mass market and as a result we shape our marketing to address this.
The tours that require more commitment such as the European End of Year Tour really appeal to those passionate rugby fans who see rugby as an opportunity to travel to unique destinations. Our marketing has shifted to reflect this in both markets with more focus placed on destination and experience and not necessarily the All Blacks themselves.
What kind of customers have been buying your tours as a result?
Singles, couples, families, groups of friends or work colleagues. Our youngest customer was 6 years old and our oldest was 85 years of age and we’ve had customers everywhere in between.
We literally get customers from one end of the demographic spectrum to the other. Analytics tells us a lot about our potential customer base which dictates our marketing tactics and our actual customer data helps us develop the product offering.
At a high level the longer the tour, for example a 3-4 week European End of Year Tour, the more likely it is to draw a customer who has disposable time and income - this usually indicates a certain level of experience and maturity. Trans-Tasman fixtures attract a corporate customer, along with the 25+ age bracket, looking to reward or incentivise employees or suppliers. Australia is considered a domestic destination these days with the ease in which we can travel there.
How do you find new customers and prospects?
Digital promotion spearheads much of our marketing activity with an emphasis on SEO and Google Adwords as much of our website traffic is driven organically. We are active on all social media channels and find this a great tool to promote messages and encourage brand engagement with new prospects. Traditional media also plays a key role in finding new customers - we have found notable success with radio campaigns and print advertising.
We also work very closely with the travel agent market place and have a preferred partnership agreement with a travel consortium that allows over 80 regional retail travel agents the ability to be an All Blacks Tours sales agent. This gives us great access into areas of NZ where we don’t have a significant presence.
Within your marketing efforts, what’s been the biggest lessons you’ve learnt?
Be flexible, don’t be afraid to try something and equally don’t be afraid to change direction (quickly) if you’re not getting the expected results.
Timing is also extremely important so know your business sales cycles and trends and align marketing initiatives accordingly.
We learned this lesson the hard way during Rugby World Cup 2015. It was our first RWC and we didn’t know what we didn’t know, but we spent a significant amount of our marketing budget in year two of the lead in to the tournament. The reality was, we’d sold 90% of our total sales in year one, so our marketing spend during the later half of our plan was certainly disproportionate to the sales it drove. An expensive but valuable lesson which we’ll recall as we prepare for RWC 2019 Japan.
Learn more on All Blacks Tours here.
02 October, 2017 by Emily McLean,
Emily McLean works in the Deloitte marketing team and closely with Deloitte Private. She loves telling the stories of those individuals and businesses leaving their mark in New Zealand's SME space while delivering news and insights to help business owners grow their companies.