Monthly Archives: July 2019

What You Need To Know About Conversation Marketing

Conversation Marketing Book Cover alongside words: listening, feedback, like, and trust

This post is based on the excellent book, Conversation Marketing: How To Be Relevant and Engage Your Customer By Speaking Human by Kevin Lund. You can deliver the right kind of content to the right audience at the right time when you have a deeper understanding of who they are, what they want to talk about, and how they want to be spoken to.

 

Conversation marketing adds value to your business. It promotes engagement since it allows you to connect with your customers on a deeper level. It adds a personal touch since you can make your customer feel valued, special, and appreciated. It also maximizes conversions by letting you develop a lasting connection which ensures that they respond positively to your product or service. According to Lund, when customers trust a brand, they automatically gravitate toward the company.

This book discusses 10 ways to be relevant, engage your customer, and speak human to them. We will briefly look at each way.

How You Can Earn Attention For Your Brand

  • Develop your brand’s voice: your brand’s content personality and style
  • Choose your brand’s tone: your brand’s attitude; be interesting and engaging
  • Be clear: plain, use language your audience will understand
  • Be clever: memorable, amusing, heartfelt, and/or captivating
  • Be concise: sometimes it is the shorter messages that have more impact
  • Be consistent: your brand voice and tone should be consistent for your audience
  • Regularly publish: useful, memorable, and shareable content

Tell A Story

Good storytelling lets you hold someone’s attention long enough to break down a topic, engender his or her trust, so that he or she remembers you and is left feeling smarter. Good storytelling presents facts in a compelling and meaningful way. Benefits to telling stories:

  • Translates complex data through a narrative lens: appeal to their mind and heart through feelings and emotions, not facts and data
  • No one can argue with a story: a story is processed completely different than data
  • A story elicits an emotional response: they remember how you made them feel
  • A story touches the hearts of the audience: we are reminded in a positive way every time we hear it

Stay Humble

  • Be approachable and relatable
  • Focus on your audience’s pain points
  • Know your product/service/industry
  • Do not talk about yourself
  • Don’t pitch–teach
  • Show how your company makes a difference in the lives of others
  • Write to your audience to address their needs

Pick Your Party

Content is created to attract and retrain your customers. Conversational content includes: blogs, videos, social media, podcasts, native advertising, digital newsletters, white papers, print magazines, digital magazines, books, e-books, and webinars. The audience is your first priority. Stay focused on their needs. Be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • How do we want to get there?
  • Where are our customers hanging out?

Be Relevant on a Molecular Level

  • Make sure you are talking about topics that interest your audience
  • Address their pain points in a language they understand
  • Make sure relevant content gets to each individual at the right time and place
  • When you solve problems and provide easy-to-find answers, you’ve become a resource to them
  • Build an audience with good, relevant content
  • Give that audience a reason to buy from you
  • Know how you can address, answer, or solve their pain point in a relevant, unique, and useful way

Open Up and Listen

  • To be a good conversationalist, you have to be a good listener
  • Listening validates the other person
  • What do customers/prospects need right now?
  • What are the topics they want to talk about?
  • What is being said about your brand?
  • What are your audience’s pain points?
  • How can you take care of their needs right now?
  • How can you make them feel connected to you?

Start the Conversation

  • What is your unique selling point to your audience?
  • What does your target audience need to know about right now?
  • How can I talk about it in a way that hasn’t already been talked about?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • Captivate your audience with content that explains how to accomplish one task activity, goal, or result

Know When to Stop Talking

  • Know what your audience is saying, not saying, and what needs to change
  • Use tools like Google Analytics and Hootsuite
  • Look at blog and video comments and survey responses
  • Interpret the data correctly, make sure you have enough responses

Get Your Customer Involved

  • Find influencers, fans, and brand ambassadors
  • Generate content from fans and customers
  • Monitor what customers say online and respond
  • Always respond to what is being said by your customers
  • Encourage them to share your content

Ditch the Checklist

  • Ask bigger questions about your company and their ultimate goals
  • Make sure your unique marketing strategies align with a deeper motivate than earning money
  • Every brand has its own personality and mission
  • The mission needs to be a goal, task, or endeavor you feel passionate about and are willing to stand by
  • Forget about what everyone else is doing
  • No two content marketing strategies will work exactly the same
  • The difference today often comes down to content

I highly recommend this book since it shares excellent examples of real companies and brands. Their successes as well as lessons learned. How can you relate more to your guests? What kind of content are they looking for? How can you stand out from other accommodations? What are your guests saying about you online? These are all important answers to learn for the success of your hospitality business.

Feel free to comment below about what you found to be most helpful from reading this. Also, if you have any questions, I am happy to respond.

 

This Is How Powerful Signature Stories Attract More Business

book cover Creating Signature Stories, signature of Picasso, What's Your Story written in chalk

 

Powerful signature stories come from telling stories with a strategic message. They are powerful because they attract more business to you. This post features the book, Creating Signature Stories: Strategic Messaging That Persuades, Energizes, and Inspires by David Aaker.

Why Stories?

Stories are much easier to remember than facts. They also apply meaning to facts. They tell you why you should care about something. Stories make your messages come alive. Stories allow you to gain exposure, activate social media, and be remembered.

Communicating strategic messages can be difficult in this age of information overload. Stories provide interest, add authenticity, and raise credibility. The story’s heroes and plot become the focus. Stories provide a way to break through distractions and disinterest. Audiences take notice when stories are told.

Signature stories are an enduring asset continuing to provide direction. A strategic message to your audience. Stories are narratives that portray actual or fictitious events and experiences. Signature stories grab attention, support a strategic message that clarifies or enhances the brand vision, customer relationship, organizational values, and/or present and future business strategy.

Criteria of Stories

Stories stimulate work-of-mouth communication both personal and via social media. Signature stories must meet four criteria:

  • Be intriguing or fascinating: the story needs to grab attention
  • Be authentic: authenticity means the audience does not perceive the story to be phony, contrived, or as a transparent effort to sell
  • Are involving: means the audience is drawn into the story, empathizes with characters, the plot becomes important, and it encourages a cognitive, emotional and/or behavior response
  • Have a strategic message: connects the brand to the signature story

6 Ways Brands Can Connect Their Message to Stories

According to Mr. Aaker, there are several ways the brand can connect their message to the signature story. I list the book’s example along with a way for hospitality businesses to apply the same method.

  • Brand as hero: when you recall the story you recall the brand
    • Example: Blendtec company has popular “Will it blend?” videos with unusual items to put in a blender (one of the most popular was them blending an i-pod!)
    • B&B Application: have a photo contest on Facebook, encouraging followers to post pictures related to a theme (such as nature) and offer one free night’s stay for two at your inn (or some other meaningful reward) to the picture that best captures what you are looking for (be sure to specify the rules in advance and you may want to appoint outside judges to determine the winner)
  • Brand surrogate as hero: the hero can be something very close to the brand
    • Example: Budweiser Clydesdale stories (horses are an accepted symbol of the brand)
    • B&B Application: tie something related to your name into your advertising and/or logo (Rosemary House Bed and Breakfast in Pittsboro, North Carolina has an image of rosemary spice in their logo, the herb of friendship and remembrance)
  • Story reflects passion of customer base: a shared value
    • Example: the Molson brand demonstrated their passion for hockey by building an ice rink in the mountains
    • B&B Application: share pictures of projects (renovations, gardening, etc.) that you completed at your inn in social media (and mention how beneficial staying at your place is for people who also like to work hard)
  • Supporting programs that carry brand name: events that have special meaning
    • Example: Avon’s Walk to End Breast Cancer (featuring personal stories about the event)
    • B&B Application: become a sponsor of a local event so your name is listed in its promotion (it’s more meaningful if you have a personal connection to the event)
  • Prominent display of brand as a story sponsor: putting the brand name on the story
    • Example: the Always brand is prominent during their stories
    • B&B Application: become featured in a magazine and share stories of people in your local community who make a difference in the lives of others (and share how you came to know this person)
  • Adjacent communication: stories featured alongside the brand
    • Example: Charles Schwab commercials played alongside the “Person Who Changed My Life” stories
    • B&B Application: (with each guests’ permission) write a blog post featuring meaningful stories told to you by your guests (you do not have to share their last name) and connect it to your inn

Benefits of Telling Signature Stories

Powerful signature stories take stories to the next level. They are persuasive, inspiring, and they stimulate others to act. Signature stories elevate brands and they persuade without lecturing. Signature stories can help change the conversation when a brand is in a crisis. Signature stories are vehicles to promote the strategic message. Aaker states that an organization must be story friendly.

Do you use storytelling to promote your hospitality business? If so, please comment below.

 

5 New Bed and Breakfast Novels Your Guests Will Love

Book Covers: Inn at Hidden Run, Magnolia Inn, Peach Clobbered, Seeing Red, Summer HouseIntroducing five new bed and breakfast novels your guests are sure to love. All of these books are centered around B&B businesses. Plots include discovering family histories, chasing killers, reading about secrets, falling in love, and uncovering other mysteries. It is always good to have books available for guests to read. You already know they love inns!

 

The Inn at Hidden Run by Olivia Newport (Book #1 Tree of Life)

A father-daughter genealogy team link present to past on family trees. Meri’s family has been producing doctors for so many generations that no one remembers why, so when she flunks out of medical school, she runs as far from her parents as she can get. In the small town of Canyon Mines, Colorado, she takes a job at the Inn at Hidden Run B&B. And waits. It’s only a matter of time. What she doesn’t count on is genealogist Jillian Parisi-Duffy and her father, Nolan, having her back when it takes everything she has not to bolt again but to stay and face the truth that only unfolding her family’s history will reveal. While Nolan works on keeping Meri calm–and in town–Jillian pulls out of her gems of information she doesn’t know she has and arranges the puzzle pieces. But none of that changes the fact that Meri’s family is closing in to haul her back to her “real” life. When their arrival inflames tensions and Meri finally does bolt, Nolan and Jillian may be out of time.

The Magnolia Inn by Carolyn Brown

A #1 Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestseller. New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown brings together two wounded hearts in a Texas romance of second chances and twice-in-a-lifetime true love. Inheriting the Magnolia Inn, a Victorian home nestled in the East Texas pines, is a fantasy come true for Jolene Broussard. After living with the guilt of failing to rescue her self-destructive mother, Jolene knows her aunt and uncle’s B&B is the perfect jump start for a new life and a comforting place to call home. There’s just one hitch: stubborn and moody carpenter Tucker Malone. He’s got a half interest in the Magnolia Inn, and he’s planting his dusty cowboy boots squarely in the middle of her dream. Ever since his wife’s death, Tucker’s own guilt and demons have left him as guarded as Jolene. The last thing he expects is for his new partner to stir something inside him he thought was gone forever. And as wary as Jolene is, she may have found a kindred spirit–someone she can help, and someone she can hold on to. Restoring Magnolia Inn is the first step toward restoring their hearts. Will they be able to let go of the past and trust each other to do it together again?

Peach Clobbered by Anna Gerard (A Georgia B&B Mystery)

What’s black and white and dead all over? Georgia bed and breakfast proprietor Nina Fleet finds out when she comes across a corpse in a penguin costume. Nina Fleet’s life ought to be as sweet as a Georgia peach. Awarded a tiny sum in her divorce, Nina retired at 41 to a historic Queen Anne house in quaint Cymbeline, Georgia. But Nina’s barely settled into her new B&B-to-be when a penguin shows up on her porch. Or, at least, a man wearing a penguin suit. Harry Westcott is making ends meet as an ice cream shop’s mascot and has a letter from his great-aunt, pledging to leave him the house. Too bad that’s not what her will says. Meanwhile, the Sisters of Perpetual Poverty have lost their lease. Real estate developer Gregory Bainbridge intends to turn the convent into a golfing community, so Cymbeline’s mayor persuades Nina to take in the elderly nuns. And then Nina finds the “penguin” again, this time lying in an ally with a kitchen knife in his chest. A peek under the beak tells Nina it’s not Harry inside the costume, but Bainbridge. What was he doing in Harry’s penguin suit? Was the developer really the intended victim, or did the culprit intend to kill Harry? Whoever is out to stop Harry from contesting the sale of his great-aunt’s house may also be after Nina, so she teams up with him to cage the killer before someone clips her wings.

Seeing Red by Dana Dratch (A Red Herring Mystery)

If it wasn’t for art thieves, spies, and killers, Alex Vlodnachek’s life would be bliss. Her freelance career is catching fire. Her relationship with B&B owner Ian Sterling is flirty and fun. She’s even attending a glittering cocktail party at his sprawling Victorian inn. But, to this ex-reporter, something seems “off.” When Ian’s father vanishes, the enigmatic innkeeper asks for her discretion, And her assistance. Meanwhile, Alex is having the opposite problem at her tiny bungalow. People keep piling in uninvited. Including a mysterious intruder found sleeping in her kitchen. Her grandmother, Baba, who shows up “to help”–with Alex’s own mother hot on her heels. When the intrepid redhead discovers a body in the B&B’s basement and a “reproduction” Renoir in the library, she begins to suspect that Ian is more than just a simple hotel owner. With editor pal Trip, brother Nick, and rescue-pup Lucy riding shotgun, Alex scrambles to stay one step ahead of disaster–and some very nasty characters. Can she find the missing man before it’s too late? Or will Alex be the next one to disappear?

The Summer House by Jenny Hale

From this USA Today bestselling author comes a delightful read about friendship, family, and the healing power of love. Callie Weaver and her best friend, Olivia Dixon, have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They’re going to buff the salt from its windows, paint it’s sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed and breakfast. Callie’s too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He’s heir to his father’s real estate empire, and the papers say he’s just another playboy. But as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there’s more to this man than money and good looks. Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets…secrets that stretch across the island and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor. Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm the diary unleashes, or can true love save them?

If you have a common room that is perfect for guests to read in, consider having a library of books available for them to read during their stay. Books like these five new bed and breakfast novels. See our blog post about the perfect bed and breakfast books for guests. Happy reading, to you and your guests! Feel free to comment below with your own B&B book recommendation!

 

How You Can Offer Popular Guest Room Amenities

popular guest room amenities

 

Popular guest room amenities attract potential bed and breakfast guests.  Bed and breakfast guests are willing to pay more for bedrooms offering more amenities. In fact, some guest reviewers mention the amenities they enjoyed during their stay (which attracts more guests to stay at your inn).

 

Some bed and breakfasts have a room comparison chart that lists the guest room amenities available and then puts a dot or check by the amenities that correspond with each particular guest room.  This makes it easy for online visitors to see a room comparison and the price differences since there may be some rooms that have more amenities than others within the same bed and breakfast.

The amenities bed and breakfasts offer often depend upon the location and size of each bed and breakfast.  Geographical location plays a role in choosing guest room amenities (fireplaces usually more common in climates with cooler weather).  Likewise, the size of the bed and breakfast matters.  Typically the more rooms an inn has, the higher the likelihood of upscale amenities.

The amenities at bed and breakfasts range from small things (like an alarm clock and stationery) to big things (like wi-fi internet access and a large flat screen television). There are certain amenities that are usually standard.  For example, almost every bed and breakfast offers a private bathroom to their guests.

Other amenities in bedrooms are less common place.  For example, in-room hot tubs are seen as an added luxury.  This is typically found in bed and breakfasts that cater to those seeking a romantic destination.

The following is an alphabetical list of some guest bedroom amenities and features your bed and breakfast may offer:

  • Alarm clock radio
  • Antiques
  • Bathroom (private and connected)
  • Beds (oversized and comfortable)
  • Bedside table on each side of the bed
  • Blankets (extra)
  • Books
  • Bottled water
  • Ceiling fan(s)
  • Chairs
  • Chocolates
  • Coffee maker
  • Coasters
  • Coat rack
  • Comforters (extra)
  • Desk
  • DVD player
  • Ear plugs
  • Evening sweet treat
  • Fireplace (hand carved wood or marble)
  • Flowers
  • Furniture (such as antique or leather)
  • Guidebook with local maps and restaurant menus
  • Hair dryer
  • Handicap accessible amenities
  • Hangers
  • Hot tubs
  • Ice bucket and glassware
  • Individual climate control
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Lamps (such as Tiffany lamps)
  • Lighted make-up mirror
  • Luggage racks
  • Magazines
  • Microwave
  • Mini-Bar
  • Mini-Fridge
  • Mints
  • Mirror (full length)
  • Outlets with USB ports
  • Pillows (extra)
  • Pictures
  • Plants
  • Postcards
  • Private balcony, deck, patio, porch, or veranda
  • Private entrance
  • Reading lamps
  • Refrigerator (small)
  • Robes
  • Rose petals on your bed
  • Rugs
  • Separate sitting area
  • Sink (in the bedroom)
  • Slippers
  • Snacks or evening dessert in your room
  • Sofas
  • Stationery
  • Table
  • Tablet computer (stays in the room)
  • Technology charging stations
  • Television (large flat screen) with premium cable channels
  • Windows showing a breathtaking view
  • Wine and cheese
  • Wireless internet access (complimentary)

We wrote a separate blog post about guest bathroom amenities. Bed and breakfasts may suggest a packing list to help their guests prepare for their visit.

Bed and breakfasts are wise to point out exactly everything that is included in the stay at their luxurious bed and breakfast versus what guests may have to pay for if they chose to stay at a hotel (concierge, breakfast, parking, free wi-fi, wine and cheese, and much more).  By offering popular guest room amenities, bed and breakfasts can separate themselves from other lodging destinations and host more guests.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

 

10 Terrific Twitter Tips for B&B’s

10 twitter tips

 

Did you know that there are around 335 million monthly active Twitter users?  Did you know that 500 million tweets are sent each day?  Most of us know that Twitter is a popular social media website. In fact, a single day’s worth of tweets would fill a 10 million page book!

 

 

Here are some quick tips so you can get the best out of using Twitter to promote your bed and breakfast inn:

1) Know your audience in order to target your message to the right people.  You want to write to appeal to your specific market–not everyone.  What kind of bed and breakfast guests would you like to attract?    

  • Be pet friendly if you want guests with pets
  • Be couple friendly and require kids to be a minimum age
  • Promote being healthy by not allowing smoking on all grounds
  • Accommodate guests with allergies or restricted diets when you cook breakfasts
  • Reach out to those getting married or renewing their vows with ceremonies
  • Provide spa services to guests who like to be pampered
  • Offer extra amenities such as hot tubs or private balcony views

2) Regularly spend time listening to the needs and wants of your target market.  What would ease their pain and make their lives better?

  • Need time to get away from it all
  • Want to relax with a loved one
  • Want to visit a local relative without inconveniencing them
  • Like to visit tourist spots in your area
  • Want personal touch of a B&B versus big hotel

3) Have strategies behind who you follow.  You do not have to follow everyone. Be selective and show your audience what they like to see. 

  • Travel tips (give them useful information)
  • Scenic pictures of your area (entice them to visit)
  • Baby animals (who does not like baby animals?)
  • Recipes (you may even offer a cooking class to your guests)
  • Local activities (show them what they can do in your area)

4) Have a consistent presence online.  Tweet at least four to six times per day if possible.

5) Provide useful content based on your brands’ goals.  Selling should not be the focus.

  • Tweet powerful quotes
  • Update readers about your area events
  • Share meaningful stories

6) Tweet with images.  People are visual creatures and tweets with pictures are more than twice as likely to be retweeted.  Images can convey more than words do. 

  • Share pictures of the bedrooms in your bed and breakfast
  • Tweet pictures of your outdoor views including landscaping
  • Share pictures of your delightful breakfasts and goodies made
  • Share pictures of local community events including concerts and sports games

7) Be active on other social media channels and have a blog on your website.  Blogs provide fresh content the search engines love.  More online connections come from having a strong presence on other social media websites.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Linked In
  • Pinterest

8) Use hashtags (#) so the reach of your tweets spreads to people searching for that term. Use trending hashtags (labeled “trends”) on the bottom left.  Make sure the hashtags are relevant to the tweet and two hashtags is plenty.

  • Newsworthy events
  • Celebrities
  • Holidays (including national food holidays)
  • This day in history
  • Sports
  • Trending area activities

9) Always have a call to action.  Know what you want them to do after they read your tweet.

10) Monitor your Twitter results with other websites.  Some Twitter tools are available for free or to use on a free trial basis.  Try them out to see which you prefer.

  • Buffer
  • Hootsuite
  • Tweetdeck

When you use these tips consistently, you will see a dramatic increase in your numbers:

  • More Twitter followers
  • More retweets
  • More blog subscribers
  • More guests
  • And more income!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography