Marketing your vacation rental does not always mean spending money. There are lots of ways of getting traffic to your listing or web site without parting with a cent, and this is all possible because of the way people use the web, particularly through social networking. Social scientists tell us that each person has a network of 8 to 12 people in their close network of friends, family, and associates and with social networking sites such as Facebook, most have hundreds. Viral marketing is the term used to describe any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for massive growth in the message's exposure and influence. The rapid multiplication that results is like a virus and can explode that message to many more people than traditional advertising can do.
However, viruses only spread when they're easy to transmit so here's some ideas for getting that message across and getting it multiplied without effort.
Create a short (no more than 3-minute video) to show off your property. Don't be tempted to just do a room-by-room walk-through which might look amateurish and boring. Think about doing a series of videos – perhaps one to show off each season, or featuring an activity in each one. There's lots of tips on this great Squidoo Lens
Signature line on emails
How many emails do you send? Every time you send one you have the opportunity to add marketing information about your listing or web site. This should be very short – a few words describing your property and a link. Set up an email signature in Outlook
Comment on blogs & forums
I read a lot of blogs and participate on quite a few forums. As a blog publisher myself, I love to get comments and hear from readers, and so do other blog writers. When you make a comment on a post you have the opportunity to put in your web address. Then, when people read your comment they can click on that link. Voila! Another visitor to your listing. Try it now and comment on this post and I'll be along to visit your site. Contribute to forums such as Trip Advisor and you can do the same.
People look for information; other sites look for information to add to theirs; and journalists use information off the web to find resources for their articles. If you provide the information people are looking for on the features of your area, it will be found and spread about. Always include a link to your listing or web site. Check out www.ezinearticles.com for suggestions and advice on writing and publishing your articles.
Create a blog
I've been banging on about the benefits of creating your own blog for ages. If you are passionate about your area, or a feature of it, then blog about it. Write about places to see, things to do, activities and news. Become an expert through your blog. WordPress is my blog of choice, but Blogger is a great start.
Encourage links to your site
Getting other people to link to your site from theirs is a great way to get free traffic. Talk to local activity providers, restaurants, marinas, and attractions. They are trying to attract people so offer to exchange links with them. Providing the link exchange is relevant for the traffic to each site, then this can work very well.
For a little more in-depth look at viral marketing, read The New Rules of Viral Marketing – How Word of Mouse Spreads Your Ideas for Free by David Meerman Scott – authour of The New Rules of Marketing and PR