We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful James Hills. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with James below.
Alright, James thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Let’s start big picture – what are some of biggest trends you are seeing in your industry?
This is specifically in regards to our CruiseWestCoast.com property but is accurate across all of social media an influencer marketing. While the concept of “Word of Mouth” will exist regardless of technology, an entire industry of “influencers” developed to promote “other people’s stuff” over the past two decades. I was part of that as a marketer and as an influencer.
What has happened now is that the algorithms are being less forgiving, the bigger agencies/brands are being more sophisticated, and this is making things appear to be falling apart.
However, those influencers who figured out how to find alternative business models or found products to sell that they could focus on are going to see success.
For my wife and I, that response to the trend began in 2019. We are extremely passionate about cruising and my wife decided to become a travel agent and use her influencer marketing and social media talent to promote cruises as well as develop group cruise products. I did the same with the launch of CruiseWestCoast.com which is starting to hit it’s stride this year as a machine that generates leads, keeps clients engaged by sharing content with them, and ultimately also offers us other “benefits” as influencers such as ad revenue and hosted trips.
Compared to many other peers who are facing a continued decline in reach and engagement because they are forced to play a game that is out of date (one the agencies still promote to their clients), we are able to succeed since we are ultimately responsible for everything from recruiting a lead to helping them with last minute questions as they board the ship.
This trend of the top tier influencers developing their own business models outside of ads and sponsored posts is an important one that unfortunately not enough of my friends were able to take advantage of in time to make the transition.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I’ve been a blogger since the 90’s, I just “did it”. I had a good foundation of writing ability and technological know-how that allowed me to engage with the latest tech platforms.
However, I think the years where I stepped away from being on the “PR” side of things helped me really understand the marketing and business development aspect of the industry. ultimately we’re still selling stuff and it’s important to understand that while there are some folks who’s photos and writings are “art” … most of us are just part of the machine and it’s our goal to provide services that other people find valuable.
This can be demoralizing if you aren’t prepared for the realization … or in my case, it can be empowering when you realize that you can do it for yourself too and not depend entirely on the whims of others.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on NFTs. (Note: this is for education/entertainment purposes only, readers should not construe this as advice
I didn’t really like NFTs until recently and now I still don’t encourage people to invest in them unless they simply like the art or want to be part of the community. The epiphany for me was thinking of it in terms of lithographs and prints.
One of the fun things that I miss about cruises is the “art auctions” where inevitably they feature a variety of prints “1 of 150” and the promotor presents an inflated value that their appraiser will provide you with a certificate of authenticity stating … if you provide an additional fee.
Is that print worth $500 ? maybe … if you can find someone to buy it for that rate but by you bidding $50 and someone else bidding you up to $100, you just established the value for that print is $100.
NFTs are the same except that there’s some cool communities that have developed around them. Do I think a drawing of an ape is worth a thousand dollars? that isn’t for me and I’m not investing into it but it is not any different in that regard vs one of those prints that might become in demand.
As such, I’m an interested observer but it isn’t a place where I’m actively spending money to buy stuff.
What’s been the most effective strategy for growing your clientele?
The most effective strategy is to always do a great job and then promote the results. If you have nothing to promote then you have nothing to tell the next guy when she asks “what can you do for me?”
If you are starting out, never lie … but fake it till you make it. Always promote yourself and make you a desirable entity.
- Website: https://cruisewestcoast.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cruisetripping/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cruisewestcoast
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/gocruisewest
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH0fMyQoU3wY0jROwexibkw
- Other: https://www.mantripping.com https://menwhoblog.com those are my other sites