Lead generation is all the rage.
At least it’s definitely the rage in my mind, because I believe it’s the most efficient way, hands down, to get people to book a future adventure with you.
I could go on (and on) about all the benefits of lead generation, but the one most important benefit is this: A lead gives you the ability to follow up with a potential customer and build a real relationship with them, at the exact time that they are researching their next trip, and deciding where to go and what to do.
A lead is contact information for someone who has expressed an interest in your tours or activities—it’s a loosened jar lid, an already-turned garden bed, a curious ear instead of a suspicious look.
And the better your lead-generating offers, the bigger the list you will have of people who are highly engaged with what you have to say, and ready to hear about what you might be able to offer them.
So how do you generate leads?
You create something that your customers want, something they will happily hand over their email addresses for. It should be related to what you do—your region, your tours, your specific area of travel or outdoor adventure—and it should solve a problem for your customers, so that the idea of a trip becomes less scary, less complicated, or more exciting.
Coming up with ideas for effective and unique lead-generating content is not that hard, and it can even be a lot of fun. Here are five creative ways to get started:
Create a Downloadable Guide
This is the absolute easiest way to get your customers’ contact information—it’s low effort to create, and once you’ve made your guide and set up your automated signup/download page, you can “set it and forget it.”
All you need to do is think about a problem you can solve for your customer in a simple, one-page sheet.
It doesn’t have to be long or complex. It just has to be helpful to your customer. For example, you could offer a comparison guide for choosing the right tour agency. Guides like this are doubly effective, because you are not only solving a problem for your customer, you are also being transparent about what kinds of deals and perks your competitors might be offering. That builds trust, and it shows that you have nothing to hide.
Here are a few more ideas for simple guides you can create:
- A packing list that’s specific to your region or the activity that you offer—you could even update it for every season
- An insider’s tip sheet on the best regional restaurants that only locals know about
- A quick reference guide to all the local provincial or state parks in your area, and what camping or recreational facilities they offer
Design an Email Course
People consume content and information differently, and interactive videos like workshops and webinars aren’t for everyone.
For those who prefer to read information on their own schedule and on their own terms, you can deliver an easy-to-consume, highly valuable email course, with staged lessons sent weekly or daily.
Just like with a webinar or online workshop, the content of your course can be tailored to your area. Take a big sheet of paper and brainstorm the big-picture areas you and your team know a lot about: your region and your activity, of course, but also the finer points that might help a vacationer level up, meet more people, get more skilled, have more fun and feel less stress.
Still need a foothold in thinking up a topic?
A good place to start is always at the beginning: How to start planning for an adventure trip. There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to researching, scheduling and booking a vacation, especially one that involves a lot of outdoor activity.
You can help your customers out by outlining the top steps in a series of easy-to-consume emails, for example, a three-day course that begins with an email listing the most important factors to consider when deciding on the right tour company, follows up with how to use online reviews to efficiently and how to thoroughly vet different companies, and ends with a quick comparison chart that helps them rate the prices and offerings of their top choices.
Here are a few more quick lesson ideas that would translate well to an email series:
- How to prepare for a 10-day trek [or canoe route or deep-woods camping trip or your own area of expertise]: from pack list to food plan to training regimen
- Travelling solo in [your region of expertise]: myth-busting, safety tips, and best ways to make friends
- Awesome animals: get to know the wildlife of [your region], from birds to bugs to the really big beasts
Create a Webinar
A webinar (online seminar) is an excellent way to connect and interact with the kinds of people you’d like to see on your trips. It’s also a great way to build relationships, because it puts a real human face to your business.
Let’s say you do an hour-long webinar on how to plan a trip to Iceland. That’s one hour in which people are listening to you; growing to consider you as a source of expertise; becoming familiar with your brand (along with you as the face of your brand, or with some of your expert team members); and feeling more confident about trying something new.
All of that creates a very strong personal connection between you and your viewers—and it’s even better if you invite them to send in their questions. You can review them for common themes, and answer the biggest questions in a linked FAQ page or post, or even another video—that’s one more easy content idea for you, and another excuse to follow up and deepen your relationship with those potential customers.
Afraid that the people who signed up for the webinar won’t show up to watch the live broadcast? It’s not a problem.
You’ve put in the effort to make that original content, and now you have it and can always replay the video again as a followup down the line—attracting new potential viewers, and earning the gratitude of anyone who missed the first one because of a time conflict.
And whether or not the people who sign up watch it, you still have their contact information, and so you still have those solid leads!
Here are a few ideas for webinar topics you can adapt to your own area of expertise:
- What you need to know before visiting [your destination here]
- Myths / little-known facts / biggest misconceptions about [your destination or activity here]
- An open Q&A about [your specialized knowledge here]
All of these topics will serve to alleviate your customers’ fears or anxieties about taking a trip, and can make them more excited and more ready to book. And they’ll associate that sense of relief or excitement with your brand.
Host an Online Workshop
Online workshops are like webinars, but on a much smaller scale. They can also be highly interactive, with viewers jumping in to type in questions.
Workshops can bring you (and your customers) all of the same benefits as webinars, but the difference is that with a workshop you really get the chance to showcase your expertise—and, in doing so, your credibility—on your particular subject area.
The added benefit of a workshop is that it’s interactive and brings in a smaller group of viewers, so it encourages more group participation. That means that all the potential travellers who are taking part start to get to know each other.
Being the facilitator of that kind of community-building can really deepen your connection with your participants. That means they’ll be even more receptive to organizing their next trip with you.
If you don’t have the resources to pull off a workshop on your own, consider partnering with a company that shares a similar audience but may offer a different (and, ideally, complementary) product or service.
For example, if you offer mountain bike trips, you could partner with a mountain bike manufacturer, or a local bike shop, or a company that produces bike shoes or gloves or some other type of gear. Or even an energy-bar maker—or how about a representative from your local parks department, or a volunteer trail-building group? It works even better if it’s a product or service you use on your tours. Just tailor the content of the workshop to something that falls into your combined area of expertise.
Want a few workshop topic ideas to get you started? Here are a few you can adapt:
- A beginner’s course on mountain bike maintenance [or ski care, or proper tent storage, or storing your climbing gear, or your own area of expertise]
- A start-to-finish guide to make a stellar GoPro video when you’re on the trail [or the slopes or the rock face or water or your own area of expertise]
- How to cook a healthy, high-energy and easy-to-pack meal when you’re on the [trail, water, mountain, or your own area of expertise]
Run a Challenge
People absolutely love a challenge—it hits us right in our wish to improve ourselves, uses short time periods to erase our lethargy, and triggers our competitive instinct.
Running a challenge is a great way to appeal to your customers’ desire to act better, do better and be better, and it rallies together a community of people who share a common interest. And once again, it connects all those positive thoughts and feelings with your brand.
O.A.R.S., a California-based whitewater rafting company, recently launched a fantastic challenge, one that encourages families to disconnect from their devices and spend 100 hours together being active outside. Families who participated could then share their adventures on social media with the hashtag #100HoursUnplugged, or send their photos and stories to OARS for the company to feature on their website.
This particular challenge is ongoing, but it’s easy to build in a sign-up form for your own challenge so that it brings in leads for you—just offer to send regular tips, encouragements, progress updates, or whatever suits your particular challenge best. You can even offer perks or chances at prizes.
The OARS challenge a perfect idea because it taps into a very common anxiety (our whole family is spending way too much time on our devices, causing us to feel disconnected from each other), it feels easy to accomplish (just one day a week for a month), and it reminds us of the kind of fun we had when we were kids, way back when before the internet (camping! tree forts! river swims! all-day bike rides!).
Even better, framing it as a challenge gives us a reason to leave the phones behind and get outside. We feel motivated, we feel hopeful, and we connect those positive feelings to OARS.
Although this challenge has been ongoing for more than a year and features several social media channels dedicated to the cause, yours could be much simpler and run for shorter, as in 7 to 10 days. It can be a quick way to connect with customers and grow your list of potential leads, while at the same time giving your social media channels a boost.
Coming up with challenge ideas can be great fun. Just get your team together, get out some pens, and start brainstorming! Here are a few I came up within a few minutes:
- 5 Weeks, 5 Parks: How many provincial (or state or federal) parks can you visit this month? Post your photos!
- Car-Free Weekend: Commit your summer long weekend to transit-, wheel- and foot-friendly adventures.
- Tourist in Your Town: Get to know your own city by visiting these often-overlooked local landmarks! Take a selfie at all of them and win a prize.
Over to You
There’s no end to the different kinds of downloads, challenges, gifts and courses you can offer that can improve your customers’ lives, boost their vacations, and get them happily handing over their email address. It’s only limited by your imagination!
A great way to start coming up with ideas for any or all of the lead-generating tricks I’ve listed here is to brainstorm two lists: one with all of the problems, fears, anxieties or questions that your fans and followers may have, and the other with all the things that you and your team might know about.
You’ll be amazed at how many dots you can connect and problems you can solve. And before you know it, you’ll be on the way to generating leads, and creating long-term relationships with tons of new potential customers.
In less than 20 minutes, you’ll learn how to turn your website traffic into high-quality leads and bookings for your business.
Click below to learn more about this free online mini-training.