Want to be irresistible to guests? I recommend applying the wisdom found in the book, Lingo: Discover Your Ideal Customer's Secret Language and Make Your Business Irresistible. Jeffrey Shaw is an entrepreneur, professional photographer, author, coach, speaker, and Creative Warriors Podcast host. 

According to Shaw, when we understand our ideal customer's secret language, it allows us to develop a connection so genuine and authentic, that guests are simply drawn to us. To speak someone's "lingo" we must understand many things about them:

  • How they think and what makes them tick (with compassion and empathy)
  • How to compel them (and speak directly to their heart)
  • What makes them feel like they belong (welcoming them)
  • How to create deeper connections with the guests you serve 
  • What they value and what inspires them to purchase

The key is to find the people who most value what we do. When our customers already value your product or service, then we don't have to sell. First, define your ideal guests. What types of guests would most appreciate your hospitality and accommodations? Then understand, speak, communicate, and think in their secret language. The strategy is about deeply knowing your ideal customer. 

5 Components of The Secret Language Strategy

  • Perspective: understand how your ideal guests experience their world
  • Familiarity: create an environment that feels remarkably comfortable to your ideal guests
  • Style: help your ideal customers make a quick decision to book with you and use your services
  • Pricing psychology: let your ideal customers know they're in the right place doing business with you
  • Words: draw in your ideal customers and filter out the rest by acting as emotional triggers

"Doing business with your ideal customers is the best, most efficient, profitable, and life-fulfilling way I know of to build the business of your dreams." (Jeffrey Shaw)

What You Need To Know About You and Your Offering

Shaw tells us to be clear about what life values you think are important for others to know about and what those values allow us to fulfill. Answer the question, "Who will love that?" Consider what is unique about what you offer. "What are the top 3 things you want every one of your ideal customers to say?" Decide what will cause your ideal guest to give you a favorable view.

  • Your innate characteristics
  • Your top 3 values
  • What you do, create, or offer
  • Your unique offering that would cause a positive review
  • What price point you serve

Gain The Perspective of Your Ideal Guests

Author Jeffrey Shaw recommends we learn everything we can about the perspective of our customers (our ideal guests). See the world through their eyes. Track our progress as we grow. When we understand where someone is coming from, we are more likely to empathize with them and offer compassion. Go to the places they go to. Read the magazines or blogs that they read. Get to know their lifestyle, preferences, likes, and dislikes. Look for what is common in the way they live. If we want to serve them, we must understand, empathize with, and respect them. We'll know what the world looks like from their perspective and we'll have a deeper understanding of what they value. 

Create A Sense of Familiarity For Your Ideal Guests

What's familiar to us creates an instant connection, according to Mr. Shaw. Familiarity will attract your ideal guests and filter out the rest. Speak the proper language of the market segment you are aiming for. Create situations that are attractive and magnetic to that specific ideal guest. Understand the brands, businesses, and products your ideal customer already interacts with. Every interaction you have with your guests is an opportunity to create an environment. Use the power of familiarity to trigger the feelings of comfort and belonging so they feel right at home. 

Choose A Style That Appeals To Your Ideal Guests

Knowing the style of your ideal customer helps them make a quick decision to choose you. What "speaks" to your ideal customer? Trust your ability to get inside the minds and lifestyle of your ideal customers. According to author Jeffrey Shaw, you want them to feel as though the style of your brand fits them and they are a fit for your business. Once you understand your ideal customer's style, you need to understand the components of style: personality, voice, and price point. Your brand must have a personality. Start with 5 words that capture the essence of the personality you want to portray. You must have a consistent voice that is authentic, clear, and comfortable. With a consistent voice in your brand style and all that you create, your ideal customers will know your are a right fit for them. 

Price To Show Guests They Are In The Right Place

Pricing sends a message to your customers--to those you want to attract and to those you don't. It lets people know they are in the right place and ensures you don't waste your time with the people who are not most advantageous for your business. It also matters how the prices are presented. Focus less on what the price is and more on how it makes people feel. People are emotional buyers. Be committed to service and be confident in your abilities. Author Jeffrey Shaw states that pricing creates perception. The position you choose has to be aligned with your market. Price has to fit with your ideal customer. The actual prices of your products and services let guests know if they're in the right place. 

Use Words To Attract Your Ideal Guests

Use words to stop ideal customers dead in their tracks. Compel them to know more and to put aside any other concerns about price and competition because they feel they must have you. 

Stand Out Statements (let the world know what you stand for, who you stand with, and how you stand out):

  • Compel your ideal customers to pay attention to you
  • Connect with them on a gut level
  • Clarify your message so that it's easy for them to understand what benefits and value you're offering

To stand out from all the clutter and get anyone's attention, our words must be remarkable. Shaw encourages us to be compelling. Pique their curiosity so they want to know more. Ask questions that cause your ideal guests to feel as though your are inside their head. Know who your ideal customer is. Understand their perspective (what they are going through and what they are thinking). Identify what thoughts are going on inside their head. Offer a solution.

4 Essential Components of Stand Out Statements

  • Your unique expertise (what you are unique qualified to do or offer)
  • The ideal customer (the guests most appreciative of what you offer)
  • Emotions of their challenge (their own unique needs)
  • The solution you provide (how you meet those needs)

The 4 essential components should support each other. Here are some examples (pertaining to specific hospitality niches).

Environmentally-Friendly Accommodations:

  • Your unique expertise: you're a Green Leader in hospitality
  • The ideal customer: guests who support eco-friendly practices
  • Emotions of their challenge: guest concern for our environment
  • Solution you provide: you're applying best practices to help save the earth

Pet-Friendly Accommodations:

  • Your unique expertise: you have pet-friendly accommodations
  • The ideal customer: guests who want to travel with their pets
  • Emotions of their challenge: they don't want to leave their pets behind
  • Solution you provide: accommodations that allow them to bring their furry loved ones with them

Romantic Accommodations:

  • Your unique expertise: you specialize in enhancing passion and romance
  • The ideal customer: couples seeking more togetherness
  • Emotions of their challenge: they crave more meaningful time 
  • Solution you provide: romantic accommodations with packages and add-ons

In Summary

The more we understand and speak the language of our ideal customers, the easier it will be to attract them. We'll have a deeper idea of what they value and how we can meet their needs. If you would like to get some clarity around who your ideal customers should be and/or learn how to attract your target guests, you're welcome to contact me for a free 20-minute phone consultation. 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

About the author 

Kristi Dement

Tapping into her love of hospitality & accommodations, as well as her talent for marketing, Kristi started Bed and Breakfast Blogging in November of 2013. She loves helping owners of B&B inns & other properties become more effective with their marketing. She is a member of the Association of Lodging Professionals. 

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