Tag Archives: testimonials

How To Finally Stand Out From The Crowd

Anomaly Book Cover next to large orange game piece with little white game pieces behind it

 

 

Want to stand out from the crowd? The book Anomaly: How to Finally Stand Out From The Crowd by Zack Miller tells us exactly how to do that.

 

 

An anomaly is defined as something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected. The author advises us not to be afraid to do something different than others. Being different is what gets us noticed. When we stand out, people want to see what we’re all about.

Offer some free content to your ideal guests (your target market) in exchange for their name and email. Find creative ways to stand out to them. They will stay on your e-mail list if they feel they are receiving value from you. Emails should be short, sweet, and to the point. If you do not follow up, nothing will happen.

Stay consistent in the way you communicate. Your relationship with your guest (or potential guest) should not end after they leave your accommodations. You can continue to reach out to them via email (as long as they do not unsubscribe). By sending a regular email (such as weekly or bi-monthly), you are teaching your following to expect something.

Your content is unique because it is from your point of view. Take inventory of the content you already have (website, blog posts, social media, and so on). Your best content should be given away and consistently promoted.

What other kinds of content can you offer? According to Miller, the most important thing is producing content people crave and engage with.

Promote any past wins relevant to your hospitality business. This could be your award-winning recipe or your leadership in a B&B association.

Create a content calendar and automate your social media. Schedule when you want to post and note which keywords, hashtags, and phrases you will use for your content.

Write down the questions you are asked by guests and potential guests. The questions you receive may come from email, over the phone, in person, and through social media. Take the top questions and create content around them.

By asking questions, you can learn a lot. Let the market guide you as to what you offer your guests.

Display your awards, media recognition, association memberships, inspection rating, average online travel review, and much more to attract new guests. Add their logos to your website and social media. Prominently display your achievements for guests to see when they enter your bed and breakfast inn.

A simple handwritten “thank you” (such as thanking them for being your guest) can go a long way towards keeping their visit with you top of mind. Send them home with some homemade goodies, a coffee mug with your inn’s logo on it, or something else that makes you more memorable.

When guests are booking their rooms with you, do you make it easy for them to add extras? This could be add-on items like roses and chocolate, or even bigger items like guest packages.

By regularly adding blog posts to your website, you are sharing fresh, relevant content that makes you more visible in online search engines. The longer a guest stays on your website, the more likely they are to book a room or a private event with you.

By not doing what everyone else does, you will stand out and not be lost in the crowd. Tell the story you want your followers to know about you. The more they can learn about you, the better your chances of them becoming a customer.

Display your positive testimonials on your website and in social media. This can mean the difference from a guest choosing you over your local competition. Learn from bad reviews and promote good reviews. Publicly respond to every review (since they took the time to leave a review). Also, other readers will benefit from reading your responses.

Read reviews of your competitors to learn what they are doing, see what their guests are posting, see ways you can improve your own business. You must be conscious of the customer experience from the moment they arrive until they leave.

Feeling overwhelmed and/or you’d rather focus on your guests? Contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging. During our first conversation, I can get to know more about you, your inn, and your future vision for your hospitality business. You are welcome to ask me questions as well.

I successfully manage the online marketing of bed and breakfast inns (Bed and Breakfast Blogging began in 2013). I am a Vendor Member of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International. I provide my clients with consistent and effective blogging, emailing, and social media marketing as well as hospitality consulting. Together, we will choose what services are best for you.

 

How To Easily Brand Your Bed and Breakfast

Log cabin bedroom with fireplace and desk with chair

Branding your bed and breakfast is both easier and harder than you think.  What do I mean by that?  Well, little things can make a big difference so there are plenty of things you can do.  However, it is harder than you think because you don’t want to make costly mistakes along the way.

Your goal is to attract a particular target audience to your bed and breakfast inn.  The type of inn you have including your location, its amenities, its surroundings, and its weather (among many other factors) all play a role in who will want to visit your accommodations.

The following are descriptions of very different places to visit:

  • A twenty-room mountain getaway for avid skiers and hikers
  • A B&B spa in the woods with separate cabins, each with private hot tubs
  • A modern urban inn that caters to business travelers & hosts corporate retreats
  • A historical inn that has hosted celebs & famous people in history
  • A five-room inn with horse ranch and trails, riding lessons for guests
  • A tropical beach resort with its own restaurant and live music in the evenings
  • An inn located on a vineyard, with tours and tastings with cheeses and desserts
  • A B&B in a popular tourist town with lots of local activities and attractions
  • A Southern inn with an award-winning flower garden; gazebo, pool, swing, etc.

As you can tell, from the above examples, bed and breakfast inns, hotels, and resorts, can narrow their marketing to reach the most ideal audience for what they offer guests.  Since you cannot be all things to all people, the best brands:

  • Visually grab the attention of their target audience (with pictures, images, quotes, testimonials, etc.)
  • Emotionally attract (tug on the heart) their target audience (“because time passes by so quickly, capture memorable moments with us”)
  • Convey a simple message to that target audience (ex: guests deserve time away to enjoy their loved ones)
  • Differentiate themselves from their competitors (show why you are the best accommodations for your target audience in your local area)
  • Develop their reputation for excellent hospitality and exceeding guest expectations throughout multiple touch points along the way (check-in, front desk, guest services, hospitality, use of amenities, breakfast, check-out, and opting in for your e-mail list with a loyalty program)

Brands can differentiate themselves in the following ways:

  • Name
  • Logo
  • Slogan
  • Curb Appeal
  • Decor
  • Guest Rooms
  • Amenities
  • Photography
  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Blog
  • Stories
  • Guests Testimonials
  • Email Marketing
  • Hosting Events
  • Videos

According to “Telling Your Brand: How Your Brand Purpose and Position Drive The Stories You Share” by Rob Marsh, the importance of differentiation can be seen through the efforts of four national pizza chains:

  • Pizza Hut (the market leader) uses their advertising to feature new innovations like hot dogs or cheese baked into their crusts, chocolate chip cookie pizzas, pizza sliders, stuffed crust pizzas.  Pizza Huts stands out with their innovations.
  • Dominoes (focuses on owning the “delivery” position), focused on it more before lawsuits forced them to soften their claim of “30 minutes or less or its free.”  Dominoes is the go-to choice for home delivery.
  • Little Caesar’s (focuses on the “value” position), offering 2 pizzas for the price of one, with tagline (“Pizza. Pizza.”) Today they offer ready-made, grab-and-go pizzas for $5, emphasizing their ownership of the low-price position in the market.
  • Papa Johns (focuses on fresher ingredients), with tagline “Better ingredients, better pizza”, the emphasis on high-quality ingredients reinforces this position in the minds of consumers.
  • The point of positioning is to own one idea.  The brand story you tell will help position your inn in the minds of your guests and potential guests.

Mr. Marsh advises companies to think about these questions (which I have rephrased to apply to places of hospitality):

  • What benefits do guests receive from staying at your inn?
  • How are you different from competitors and how do guests experience that difference?
  • What are the stories your guests tell about themselves now?
  • If your brand were a person, what kind of personality would it have?
  • What adjectives describe your brand?  What adjectives do not?
  • Does your B&B brand have a compelling story?
  • How does your company’s values and mission make an impact on your guests?
  • What’s your brand’s purpose?

Denise Lee Yohn, in her book, “What Great Brands Do: The 7 Brand-Building Principles That Separate The Best From The Rest“, argues that your brand is WHAT your company DOES and HOW you do it and NOT what you SAY you are.  It matters more what you DO.  Identify the key values and attributes that define your inn.  People buy according to how brands make them feel, or what identity they help their guests experience and express.

Focus on the unique way you bring value to your guests.  Understand and communicate what makes your business different and better than the rest.  According to Denise, “Great brands know that if you try to be all things to all people, you’ll never connect deeply with anyone.”  She offers the following template for companies to use building their brand:

“For ________ (your target audience), we are the _____________ (frame of reference) who does ______________ (the unique value you deliver), because ______________ (the reasons why consumers should believe that you deliver value).

According to the book “Brand Intimacy: A New Paradigm in Marketing” by Mario Natarelli and Rina Plapler, the following are types of “Brand Strategies”:

  • Fulfillment: always exceeds expectations, delivers superior quality/service, good value for the money, reliable (ex: Amazon)
  • Identity: projects a favorable lifestyle, values your target market aspires to (or identifies with) (ex: Whole Foods)
  • Enhancement: makes your life easier, more effective, smarter, more capable, more connected (ex: Apple)
  • Ritual: part of your routine, ingrained in your life, more than a habitual lifestyle behavior (ex: Starbucks)
  • Nostalgia: reminds you of your past, evokes warm memories and feelings, associates with you in some way (ex: Lego)
  • Indulgence: a personal luxury, makes you feel pampered, pleasing to the senses (taste, touch, sight, smell, sound) (ex: Sephora, a beauty brand)

In the book, “Building Your Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Your Customers Will Listen,” Donald Miller argues that stories organize information in a way that compels people to listen.  Miller advises readers to make the customer the hero of the story and to position your brand as the guide.  Focus on the success of your customers (and not the success of your business).

Donald Miller explains that since human beings have two motivations in life (to escape something bad and to experience something good), we can include these motivations in our brand stories.  Great brands obsess about the transformation of their customers.

With the permission of each guest, you could their personal story of what their life was like before coming to your destination and how your destination impacted their life for the better.  Using guest testimonials carries a lot of weight and provides social proof.

Motivation 1: To Escape Something Bad

  • Boredom with Life (Feel Stuck in a Rut)
  • Escape the Noise/Traffic of the City or Escape the Isolation of Rural Life
  • Fast Pace of Life (Escape the Busyness and Routines of Everyday Life)
  • Perceived Lack of Quality Time with Others
  • Stress from Job (or Other Responsibilities like Education and Parenting)
  • etc.

Motivation 2: To Experience Something Good

  • Adventure (for athletes, adventurers)
  • Business Success (for corporate travelers)
  • Culture (for art and music lovers)
  • Food (breakfast, local restaurants, etc.)
  • Health (improve fitness and nutrition)
  • Relationships (for family and friendships)
  • Romance (for stengthning committed relationships)
  • Shopping (for retail therapy)
  • Sports (for sports lovers)
  • Travel (for travel buffs)
  • etc.

All businesses need to distinguish themselves from the competition.  By determining your target audience, knowing what will attract their attention, and differentiating yourself from other inns with meaningful brand stories (with your customer as the hero and your brand as the guide), you can feature reasons why potential guests should escape their current circumstances to experience a variety of pleasant experiences that all begin with a stay at your place of hospitality.  This is how to easily brand your bed and breakfast inn.

Need help branding your bed and breakfast inn?  Contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging for a free phone consultation.

Top Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

The Power of Visual Storytelling: Tips

 

visual storytelling tips

 

This is the last of the series of blog posts discussing the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio.  This features their smart tips for social media photography.

 

 

Visual storytelling tips and social media photography tips:

  • Up your resolution to the highest resolution possible
  • Collages need to be of similar resolution
  • Divide your images into thirds either horizontally or vertically
  • Align your image slightly off center to make it more engaging
  • Variety matters, use a range of angles and setups
  • Take more pictures than you think you need
  • Frame your shot with less cluttered backgrounds
  • Use close-cropped images
  • Work the angles
  • Shine bright with lighting and filters
  • Show don’t sell
  • Celebrate occasions
  • Share great quotes
  • Include photos related to your company’s lifestyle
  • Inspire through the use of images by showcasing your company’s lifestyle, values, and opinions
  • Show how your products and services contribute to the greater good
  • Encourage emotion by featuring a sentimental side when appropriate
  • Propel action into a still image
  • Sprinkle in humor and have a little fun
  • Embrace creativity
  • Not all pictures have to have only one item
  • Go behind the scenes to make your customers feel like part of your brand

This is the conclusion to the blog series about the book The Power of Visual Storytelling.  I highly recommend this book.  I literally took twenty pages of handwritten notes from information in this book!  A special thank you to the authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio for letting me share some of their book.  I am not being compensated for this review, I just really think this book is great any business looking to grow their online marketing.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

The Power of Visual Storytelling: Responses

visual storytelling responses

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, authors of the book The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand remind us that anything can happen at a moment’s notice online. Companies need to identify common occurrences, both positive and negative.  It means looking for opportunities to create visual storytelling responses all around us.  Some strategies include:

 

  • Understand the most important factors that can influence sales and customer leads
  • Weather may be an important theme to craft content around
  • At key times of the year, companies can announce awards, rankings, events, speeches, partnerships, and make other announcements
  • Understand the most frequently asked service inquiries and comments, both positive and negative
  • Develop a robust content library to allow time for real-time opportunities
  • The best storytellers play off their audience responses to hit the message home
  • Extend the life of conversations and engagement as long as it is relevant
  • Look at the content fans are sharing each day

While on the topic of user generated content, there is a higher barrier to engagement if it is not natural for fans to share visual content.  Reward sharing behavior with a campaign, contest, and/or rewards.  Look for themes in the most common types of photos, videos, hashtags, and sentiment.

Choose a clear call to action such as a unique hashtag available across all social media channels.  Make full disclosure to customers how and where their photos and videos will be shared.  Highlight examples to show a range of creativity.  Give rewards and recognition by having an “image of the week” or randomly sending a thank you.

Customers can share their own content through videos shared on social networks like YouTube, Instagram, and the Vine.  Look at your content calendar to determine which video(s) will help tell your visual story in a way that other media cannot.  Think about your target audience, desired end goals, and what resources are available.  Evaluate the needs of your audience and show off your personality.  Mix up the content to a variety of different types and lengths of videos. Common videos include:

  • Announcements
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Case studies
  • Celebrity partnerships
  • Community involvement
  • Company overview
  • Demos
  • Event highlights
  • FAQs
  • Goals
  • How-to
  • Live streams
  • Office tours
  • Parodies
  • Testimonials
  • Video blogs
  • Visual portfolios

Fan shared content as well as company made videos can show another side to a business. The key is to make the most of what customers are saying about you.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Let Your Guests Evaluate You

In order to receive feedback for the bed and breakfast experience you offer, why not let your guests evaluate you?  This gives you valuable information and provides them with an opportunity to give you a great testimonial and maybe point out some things they noticed.

Your evaluation form only needs to ask a few questions:

1) What did you like the most about staying at our bed and breakfast? (things they thought were great)

2) Any disappointments? (things they think you can improve)

3) If you could change one thing about our bed and breakfast, what would it be? (this does not necessarily mean you will get negative comments–they may offer great suggestions for you to think about)

4) Do you have any additional comments you wish to share? (this way they feel that they have had every opportunity to share their concerns or ideas)

This evaluation form lets them know you cared about their experience and hope that they will return.  It also allows them to reflect on their stay.

Take any negative comments with a grain of salt.  There may be some truth to them or you may have had a picky guest who is hard to please.

If you want to use any of their glowing statements as positive testimonials, ask permission before quoting them in marketing materials or on your website.

Overall, when you let your guests evaluate you, it gives you important information so you can be a better innkeeper.