Top 12 Tips & Tricks for the Vacation Rental Marketing Ninja

Fall is no time to take your foot off that gas pedal. In fact, it's the perfect time to start to implement your new inbound marketing strategy.

Hola vacation rental world. Enjoying your “slow season”?
Slow? Yeah, right. No such thing as “slow” in the VR industry.
Sure, the fall is a traditionally slow travel season, but my experience working with vacation rental managers is that the pace and workload actually increase once the fall hits.
Fall  = budgets, conferences, and planning for next year. This is no time to take your foot off that gas pedal. In fact, it's the perfect time to start to implement your new inbound marketing strategy.
You're ready to churn out awesome content, right? Have you started your blog yet?! I'm confident I see you nodding approvingly behind that computer screen.
We've reached Confessions of a VR Marketing Director: Part III, and now we get down to the nitty gritty. Watch your toes, I'm about to drop some serious knowledge. But first, a quick recap:
  • Part I: A bit of my experience and why I may  have some secrets hidden up my marketing sleeves.
  • Part II: Why “inbound marketing” is the bees knees & the PERFECT fit for vacation rental marketing.
My posts on the VRMA blog (& the PointCentral blog) are a living example of the knowledge I'm ninja kicking your way. My mind is focused on content creation all day, every day. Every interaction, every article, every sunset is content waiting to be created. It's just a matter of having the eyes to see it and the willingness to turn it into a valuable piece of creativity to share online.
As I said in Part II: We need to wake up every day eager to find a reason to create. Blog post, video, pictures, infographic. It doesn't matter. Just create each and every day.

{Related Link: Neil Gaimain – “Make Good Art”}

But the key to this creation process is value. Content/inbound marketing is about sharing value on a consistent basis, not selling. Determine what is valuable to your readers and share it – consistently.
Sticking to this mantra, I need to share value with you. Watch those toes. This is where the knowledge is dropped.


Top 12 Tips & Tricks for the Vacation Rental Marketing Ninja
1. The Blog
You have a blog, right? If you are not answering with a resounding YES, then stop reading – seriously, stop – and go start a blog. The blog is the engine the drives your inbound marketing efforts. You need one. And you need it now yesterday.
The blog allows you to create great content quickly, share it far and wide on your social networks, and build fantastic SEO value with new content, keywords, additional/fresh web pages, and back links – I.E. all the stuff Google loves that will drive traffic your way.
There are plenty of tutorials about creating a blog. I won't recreate the wheel, but I will stress that it is a necessity, and it is the first step you should take…like yesterday.
My preference is Wordpress, and here's a nice Wordpress tutorial from a fellow VR marketer.
Please, start a blog. And use it consistently. My preference, daily. For reals, stop making excuses. Get to blogging!

{Related Post: What the Heck is Blogging [Infographic]}

2. Follow A LOT of Blogs
Following a HUGE amount of other blogs is my secret sauce. There is a blog for every topic you can think of…most likely multiple per topic. And there are a lot of creative minds and great writers sharing  great ideas. For free. Every day.
Many of these blogs will teach you to be a better writer, a better marketer, and a pretty rad blogger. Not because they are offering you writing/blogging lessons, but because they are sharing great ideas and great writing style.
You'll soak it up because you're interested in it, and you'll naturally improve.
Follow a ginormous amount of blogs. Follow your interests. Don't make it a chore. You'll enjoy the process, and your blogging will improve.
To give you a number, I follow 500+ blogs. Seriously. I check them each and every day. Multiple times per day. And I love it. I am consuming more great information on a daily basis that I could have ever imagined possible. And I'm a better marketer because of this habit.

{Related Post: Complete Guide to Finding & Sharing Better Content}
{Related Post: 39 Fantastic Inbound Marketing Blogs You Ought to be Reading}

3. Fall in Love with RSS
The only way you can follow a ginormous amount of blogs is with RSS (Vector RSS Icon) – AKA Real Simple Syndicate. As Wikipedia says…
Once users subscribe to a website RSS removes the need for them to manually check it. Instead, their browser constantly monitors the site and informs the user of any updates.
RSS sends the awesome blog posts – that you HAVE to follow – right to you, rather than you having to hunt down posts from blogs you enjoy. It's brilliant and changes the way you consume information.
My fav RSS “reader” is Feedly. Check ‘er out, pretty rad, but there are a plethora of RSS readers out there.
The key point is use RSS to follow a ton a blogs and consume a ton of info.

{Related Link:}

4. Consistency is Key
Commit to inbound marketing. Commit to your blog. Be consistent and create content every day.

Don't stress about perfection or number of followers. Just wake up and create something today. And then do it again  tomorrow.
Demonstrate your commitment to great content by doing it every day. The fans, followers, and increased traffic will come. But you need to demonstrate your value first, and consistency is key.
5. Be the Thought Leader
The reality is very few companies are spending the time and energy needed to create valuable content on a consistent basis.
I know, crazy, right? The opportunity is huge, and the playing field is empty.
Focus on being the thought leader for your niche. What do homeowners and guests want need to know about your area, your homes, vacation rentals in general? The topics are endless, and you have the opportunity to shine by taking the time to share the information people want.  

{Related Post: How to Become a Thought Leader}

6. Talk About Yourself
I mean this in a specific and general sense.
We love to get personal with people. We're social creatures. This is why social media has been such an amazing success.
Don't shy away from talking about yourself and sharing details of your life. Your readers want to know about you. They want to relate to you. They want to trust you and what you are saying.
This is equally true for your company. Share inside company info. You have a company culture, every company does. Share it. Your readers/fans will love it, they'll share too, and relationships will grow. Relationships will lead to sales. Have faith in the process.

{Related Post: Culture: It's Part of Your Brand, So Show it Off!}

7.  Be Social. But Not Too Social
Social media is an awesome marketing tool, and a core component of inbound marketing. But don't overextend yourself. You do not need to be on every social media site under the sun.
Share your content far and wide, but focus on sites you can maintain a strong interaction with. Your goal is to build relationships by sharing awesome content, opening yourself to fans, and interacting
You don't have time to do this on EVERY social media site.
My favs: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube & LinkedIn
Sure, there are a number of other great social sites. But can you honestly stay involved with all of them? If you can't stay involved with the site, then don't bother sending your content there.
8. Plan Ahead
Set & maintain strict, but flexible, schedules. You need a roadmap. But don't be so attached to your map that you miss awesome detours.  

Think daily, weekly, monthly, annual schedules…

  • Quick Glance Marketing Calendar
  • Quick glance calendar broken-down from daily - annual
  • Content Calendar
  • Full content calendar breaking down content ideas on a daily basis
  • Full Marketing Calendar
  • Full annual calendar broken down by month, including key dates and campaigns
9.  Newsjack
I once had 15,000 views on my blog in one day. For real. Great day. Sort of…
The Outer Banks was getting crushed by a hurricane, and I was the only reliable source giving on the ground updates throughout the entire storm. Armed with a smart phone, a raincoat and social media, I was able to give live info and feed it directly to social media and my blog – videos, pictures, stories, etc. As a result, traffic spiked…fast.
Never great to deal with an emergency, but the power of real-time information is amazing. And blogs serve this purpose.
This process is referred to as “newsjacking.” If you see a hot topic, jump on it. Be the first to get info out, and keep the valuable content coming until the news passes.
In addition to consistency, you need to be fast.

{Related Post: The Inbound Marketer's Complete Guide to Newsjacking}

10.  Share the Love
As you can see with all of my posts, I share a lot of links. I share this love for a few reasons…

A.  If I'm inspired by someone else, I want to give them the credit they deserve.

B.  Build online relationships by sharing other people's content. Maybe they'll share one of my links someday.

C. Build offline partnerships. If you love a local business, tell the world about it. Odds are, they'll appreciate the love, and there could be a good partnership waiting for you.

D. It builds “thought leader” status. I'm collecting this information and sharing it with you, saving you time, and building myself as great source of valuable information – i.e. a “thought leader.”

11.  Ninjas Don't Make Excuses
I recognize that blogging can be a bit intimidating…

  • How do I create a blog? (hint, follow the above link)
  • What will I write about?
  • I'm not a writer.
  • How do I find time?
  • How do I create value?
  • I'm not creative.
  • Yada, yada, yada.

The excuses are endless. But you know what, ninjas don't make excuses. And we're here to become VR Marketing Ninjas. Yes? Who's with me?!
Nike said it best, Just Do It. Don't stress. Just wake up and create. It won't always be perfect. It won't always be great. Everyone strikes out. But getting off the bench is key, and sometimes you'll knock one out of the park.
I can promise you will get better over time, but you'll never hit the homerun from the sidelines. Get in the game.

{Side Note: Are you aware actual ninjas are becoming extinct?!}
{Related Post: How to Write Your First Blog Post}

12.  Have Fun
Your enjoyment will come through in your work. Enjoy the creative process. Enjoy the social interactions. Happiness and fun are infectious.
Until next time. Adam Norko signing off. Over & out.


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