Tag Archives: understand

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

How One Man Immediately Improved His Company

Author Marcus Sheridan next to his book cover: They Ask You Answer

They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer by Marcus Sheridan is a must read for business owners, including those in the hospitality industry.  Mashable rated this the #1 marketing book to read in 2017.  It is the true story of how one man immediately improved his company.

 

Mr. Sheridan, a co-owner of River Pools and Spas, in the wake of the 2008 economy struggles, witnessed his business rapidly declining.  Rather than see his company go bankrupt, he decided if he simply answered the questions that people were asking about pools on his website (writing articles and making videos), he could become an authority and go-to resource that people could trust.  According to Marcus, the business we are all in is trust.

We must understand what our customer is searching for, asking, feeling, and fearing. We must not be afraid any and all questions.  First, he brainstormed all of the questions he received about fiberglass swimming pools. Then he spent all his spare time answering these questions.

He emphasizes that business owners should take on more of the “teacher” mentality than the sales role.  Sheridan advocates against sticking your head in the sand (like the myth that ostriches do) and hoping your problems go away.  Rather, he argues that we should do everything we can to earn our customer’s trust.

He uses CarMax as an example of a company that admitted their industry (selling used cars) had no consumer trust, and gave examples of what they did to earn back people’s trust:

  • One price is listed for vehicles (nothing more and nothing less)
  • Sales team is given the same commission regardless of what vehicle is sold
  • A five-day money back guarantee to those who purchase their used cars
  • An intensive inspection process that all their cars go through
  • A CarFax vehicle history report that details its history of repairs
  • Listing the Kelley Blue Book Value with all their vehicles

This eliminated the four major fears that used car buyers have:

  • Dealing with the salesperson
  • Buyer’s remorse
  • Buying a lemon
  • Not getting ripped off

Brainstorm every single reason why someone would not buy from your company (or for the case of innkeepers, stay at their B&B).  How many of these reasons have been addressed by your website?  Sheridan said that most companies never take the time to properly address the biggest fears of their consumers.  For example, bed and breakfast inns should educate their potential guests on how they are different from hotels.

Marcus advises that it does not matter what you or I think, but what the consumers think, how they behave, and what they expect.  Are we willing to meet their expectations? Write out the specific messages you want to get across to your most ideal guests.  Figure out what your guests are thinking, feeling, asking, and going through. Assume your potential guests already know about all of the alternative places to stay in your local area.

Sheridan very boldly made a list of the pluses and minuses of his competitors’ pools.  Because he stayed objective, and based his information on facts, he was able to gain a lot of trust from others.  Some of his competitors were surprised (and even thankful) that their brands were mentioned in his blog post.  Of course, others were disappointed at his reviews, and a few even threatened to sue him, but because it was based on fact there was nothing they could do. By explaining the pros and cons of each type of swimming pool, he let the consumer decide what was best for their needs.  The key is the willingness to objectively address his competition and become a trusted source in his industry.

Marcus urges business owners to have a steadfast commitment to helping consumers make the most well-informed purchasing decisions as possible.  Sheridan asserts that the most successful companies have a very clear understanding of the fact that they are not a good fit for everyone.  Focus only on the group that matters–the customers–and not the competition or guests that are not a good fit for what your inn offers.  Be a resource to help them make the best decision for themselves.  Distill the facts into simple-to-understand words that travelers find helpful.

Every time someone consumes a piece of your content (video, article, etc.), the trust factor continues to rise.  In fact, with River Pools and Spas, they discovered that if someone read thirty or more of their website pages before their initial sales appointment, they would buy from them 80% of the time whereas if they didn’t read thirty or more pages, the average closing rate in terms of appointment-to-sale was only 20%.

The moment your prospect sees you as more of a teacher than versus a salesperson, the amount of respect dramatically increases.  The goal of Google (and other search engines) is to give its customer (the searcher) the best, most specific answer to their question (or need, problem, query, etc.) in that very moment.  Places of hospitality that regularly offer fresh content that answers questions, will get more visitors to their website which can lead to more visitors to their inn.

Did you know that one-third of all time spent online is watching video?  Thus, videos and video blogs (vlogs) can be extremely beneficial.  People care about having their questions and concerns answered.  Sheridan recommends that for those just getting started on adding more content to their website, that they begin with the big five subjects:

  • Cost (focus on showing your value with customized packages)
  • Problems (address problems such as food allergies and handicap accessibility)
  • Comparisons (don’t be afraid to make a list of the pros and cons of your local competitors if they are based on fact)
  • Reviews (feature five-star guest reviews on your website and in social media)
  • Best of (feature the best of your local community: restaurants, attractions, etc.)

I really enjoyed reading this book and I know it will inspire other business owners, especially owners of places of hospitality such as bed and breakfast inns and restaurants.  If you would like a free phone consultation with Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging, I would be happy to speak with you about generating more traffic to your website with a focus on increasing the bottom line of your business.

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