Targeting our Market

Dear Reader,

Cycling Languedoc has been looking for a place to throw our hard-earned money at for some advertising lately. I was wondering if any of you might have an idea or two of where the smart money should go? We will be mainly advertising our ‘High Road‘ tours, which are 7 days of mountain awesomeness, with excellent accommodation and charming guides (cough, cough…). What I mean is, they aren’t for everyone, so we need to be careful where to expose ourselves.

Any ideas, online or otherwise?



Interesting Onomatopoeia Note: did you know there is no way to write the sound a cough makes?

19 thoughts on “Targeting our Market

  1. Well this is a project that will take a bit of thinking and searching around. If you can describe your typical (target market) client, then you can think about what they would be looking at online, and then how they might find you. If your clients are like you – go to the sites you use. Then it is all “Stock and Flow” (get solid searchable content out there and get yourself in front of people on a regular basis). Because there are so many tour operators, I think you almost have to tell them “this is the tour you have been looking for,” and why. One of the best tour operators shared with me that most of his clients are repeat or word of mouth. So really your big initial push is to get your name out there, get people to sign up, and treat them very very well. By the way – your route looks fantastic!

    • Karen – I couldn’t have said this better. You’re spot on. In a business that’s so “high touch”, word of mouth is your best access to new customers.

      That said, I’d be curious what some of your readers think about this idea, or how it could be improved. I had this idea when I was riding up Mt Ventoux with Gerry’s partner, John this summer. I noticed a couple of spray painted web sites on the road surface as we rode up. This may seem like a bizarre idea, but what about making a stencil with the Vicious Cycle skull logo, your www address and underneath it the words, “Bike Tours”. And spray it beside each of those km markers on the road surface up as many famous cols in the Alps and Ventoux. It’s certainly your target market and you only need a few each year to make it worthwhile. Advertising is all about “impressions” to your target audience, so I thought riding over your logo 21 times up Ventoux,or 23 times up the Bonette, multiplied by 1000’s of people from all around the globe may be more effective than a one-time ad at the back of a magazine. You have your audience when they’re hurting most, and they’re going slow enough that they can actually read it. Your ad will become a welcome sight, as it represents one less km to the top. I know I loved seeing those markers on the side of the road up all those cols we climbed in Haute Route.

      I know this is a very low tech idea, but sometimes the simplest ideas yield the best results.

      Good luck!!

      • I am not sure how productive it is to appeal to those that are already on the ground doing these climbs, either on their own initiative or as part of another supported ride, but I would confirm that you will not be assessed a fine by the local authorities for this tactic before you do it, particularly since the sprayed work will lead them straight to you.

  2. Since you are selling to a small market in many different countries, the internet looks like a good route. Perhaps you need to hire an impoverished student to write genuinely interesting comments on as many cycling blogs as he or she can unearth in the hope of return clicks.

    You don’t appear in the version of Google that comes up on on my computer on any of the the first three pages when I search for “alpine bike holidays in France” and that shows that there might be work to be done on optimising your webpages’ meta data in the face of quite a lot of competition.

    I know you know all this already but you did ask.

    • I really like this way of thinking, TP. The website really is the ‘shop window’, so getting it as close to Main Street makes a lot of sense. Perhaps our marketing budget should go towards improving our exposure, rather than placing ads here and there. We’re chewing on that food for thought now. Thanks!

  3. Just to add to Karen’s comments. Your business model is to satisfy your customers needs, so advertise telling how your company does this. Get to know your targeted customers habits and demographics (their age group, income level, cycling experience, where they shop, etc). Ask your existing customers how they found you and where they looked. Try also to target the processes/places they go through in their planning for a bike tour in a foreign country. An example is If they are bringing their own bike then the companies selling the travel cases could be a place to start, Also check out web sires such as and see what’s involved to advertise your company with them. You might also contact some travel agents in targeted countries and see what they charge for recommending your company. This may involve your taking them on a tour at your expense. You should move fast as I am sure people have already started making their plans for next summer. Also, in your marketing material, you need to point out what your company does that differentiates it from the competition and any niches you have which makes your company unique and hard to copy,

    • Last bit of advice; Don’t think small, if you do, then your company will be small. Think big, think of other revenue generating activities you can include in your company’s portfolio, and most importantly, have a business plan with milestones that are difficult but not impossible. Run your business as if your financial survival depended on it.

      • Thanks, John. We’re lucky at the moment to not have to run the business as if our survival depended on it, but I get your point, too. I’m torn because I really don’t want to go out and be aggressive about marketing, etc. (not my style), but I see that just waiting for people to come to us might not be the wisest approach either.

  4. How did your previous clients for the tougher routes find your business? Do they tend to bring their own bikes? Did they seek you out because they were planning to be in the area? Or, did they choose to come to the area, as opposed to another part in France or Europe in general, because of your offering? Of course, how future clients will come to you will not necessarily be the same for the past ones, but it’s interesting to know if only to figure out where the gaps are, as well as how it has worked so far.

    I somehow read the last sentence first and expected you were on about something completely different…

  5. Ditto some of the above. My guess is that your customers are not already riding in the area. Perhaps you could be the founding member of a small, elite group of similar minded, high quality tour companies who do not offer tours in the same areas and who in some ways support each other. Say, you do not aim to lead rides in the Pyrenees, or Dolomites, or Norwegian, or Columbian,Japanese mountains (wherever). So you support each other, in ways yet to be determined, the criteria for membership not yet determined. A sort of trade association of independents, aimed at increasing everyobe’s business.

  6. If you’re looking to target the more affluent segment of the market (which I suspect you are given the cost of a fully supported weeks cycling holiday), then Rouleur Magazine might give you a direct route in; however its circulation figures maybe on the lower side in comparison to other cycling publications.

    • Sam, thanks. I haven’t checked with Rouleur, but we have done so with other mags and they are just prohibitively expensive, given that we aren’t going to be doing very many tours each season. But yes, the target market is correct!

  7. locate and identify road races, advertise to non race bike riders, many visitors and fans of races, like swag, and free advertising from cute looking women handing out brochures, sexist yes,,,, practical – good possibility.. you have a narrow market scope …. but a huge following, gimmicks like 2 for 1’s and contests must be priced into fees but email connections are your free marketing tool….building email bases these days are good… all should be obtained at race sources…. a little help from The Vicious Cycle fan club you have now might help with advertising at races … good luck …. help can be invaluable and cheap hehehehe…

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