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:
- Curb Appeal
- Guest Rooms
- Social Media
- Guests Testimonials
- Email Marketing
- Hosting Events
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)
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)
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.
Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography