Tag Archives: brands

Make It All About Your Bed and Breakfast Guests

Make it all about them. Make it all about your bed and breakfast guests.  Author Bruce Turkel, in his insightful book All About Them: Grow Your Business by Focusing on Others, makes it clear that what really matters to consumers is their own self-interest. Business owners (including innkeepers) can use that knowledge to make their businesses (specifically bed and breakfasts) about the people they are trying to reach (potential guests).

Author Bruce Turkel states that successful businesses created for today’s “all about them” economy realize what you do is less important than identifying who you are and why that resonates with current and potential customers (guests).  

Turkel stresses that “good brands make you feel good, but great brands make you feel good about yourself.” Things sell not because of what they can do, but because of how they make consumers feel.  

What attracts business to you and separates you from the competition (other accommodations)? Understand exactly what your customers are buying.  What do you provide that they cannot find anywhere else?  

Figure out who you are and what you stand for then communicate that identity.  Translate your message into customer centered communication that resonates with your audience.

What opportunities does your business provide for increasing customer satisfaction and company revenue?  What do you stand for?  Can you describe that in just a few words?  To determine what those few words are, Turkel recommends you consider five components.  

  • First, write down your company features and benefits.  This means everything you and your business offer including products, services, talents, skills, experiences, and so on.
  • Then write down your points of distinction.  What sets you apart from your competition? What do your clients identify about you?
  • Next, focus on the functional side of your business.  What features and attributes do you offer?
  • Then focus on the emotional side of your business.  How do your customers feel?
  • Lastly, this is when you can take reflect upon that information and know what you stand for and know who you are.  This is your brand promise.   

Innkeepers, do you make it all about your bed and breakfast guests?  Do potential guests know how you are different from other accommodations in your area?  

If you need help defining what makes your inn unique, so you stand out from other lodging choices, the Bed and Breakfast Blogging team is here to help.  Contact Kristi Dement for a free consultation today and she can start help you share your inn’s story with the world!

How Bed and Breakfasts Can Win Like Amazon

Fast Company ranked Amazon the World’s Most Innovative Company in 2017.  Amazon is the largest American e-commerce company.  Founded on July 5 of 1994, Jeff Bezos selected the name Amazon as he looked through the dictionary.  He settled on “Amazon” because it was a place that was “exotic and different” just as he envisioned for his Internet enterprise.  Bed and breakfasts should each strive to be different and stand out in a unique and impressive way.  Think about how your inn can uniquely excel in hospitality, cuisine, and accommodations.

Bezos also noted that the Amazon river was by far the “largest” river in the world and he planned to make his store the largest in the world.  Amazon, as a company, has achieved enormous success.  Back in 1996, Amazon was only a $16 million company while Barnes and Noble was at the time a gigantic $2 billion company.  However, Amazon was the fastest company to reach one billion in sales. In 2016, Amazon’s revenue was $136 billion United States dollars while Barnes and Noble increased to a significantly smaller $4.16 billion.  

How did Amazon do it?  Amazon set goals to create something superior and completely new.  Jeff Bezos, who continues to record ideas as he thinks of them, made a list of 20 possible categories for his business and then decided that his best option was to start with books.  Years later Amazon would become one of the world’s best known companies and be referred to as “the everything store.”

While publishers complained when Amazon let its users publish book reviews (showing both the positive and negative comments), Jeff Bezos stated, “We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”  To him, it was so people could make informed choices.  The user-generated content did give Amazon viewers an extra reason to visit their website: actual buyers of books were giving their honest opinions.  Now consumers can leave written evaluations of any of Amazon’s products.  Bed and breakfasts would do well to encourage their happy guests to leave reviews as well.

Amazon strives for continuous improvement and efficiency.  While you may be satisfied with the size of your business, there are always things innkeepers can do to make more money with each guest who visits.  Whether through added packages, special retreats, retail merchandise, or other extras, make it a goal to gain more business from every person who walks into your inn.

Names are so important for both people and places. Names help define people and brands. One of the most successful brands is Amazon.  Bed and breakfasts can look to Amazon for its success as a brand and its successful brand name. Since June 19, 2000, Amazon’s logotype has featured a curved arrow leading from A to Z, representing that the company carries every product from A to Z, with the arrow shaped like a smile.  A good bed and breakfast logo can appear on merchandise you sell like coffee mugs, cookbooks, and aprons.  

Amazon carefully selects who they hire to join the company.  According to Amazon, they hire only the best and the brightest.  Some interview questions have been known to catch people off guard like, “Do you know why manhole covers are round?”  This is to judge the reasoning skills of interviewees as much as it is assess their intelligence.  This sets a high bar for the talent they hire.  While they have had some personnel issues as far as people electing to leave the company, many employees have done very well for themselves by staying.  Bed and breakfasts should also be selective when hiring more staff members.

One of Amazon’s core values is innovation.  They remain on the cutting edge of technology with their products and services.  As a company they love inventing things.  They are not held back by conventional thinking. They will quickly abandon old notions and embrace new ones when better options present themselves.  Likewise, innkeepers should stay on the cutting edge with their online marketing, reservation software, and so forth.

Amazon is known for their excellent customer service.  They offer a generous 30-day return policy.  They are resolved to offer the lowest prices anywhere.  Amazon has expanded not only the types of merchandise it sells, but also the programs it offers.  With a focus on long-term customer loyalty, those who are Amazon Prime members get several perks including free shipping.  Bed and breakfasts can reward returning guests and guests who make referrals.

Amazon is obsessed with customer satisfaction.  This online giant offers a personalized version of their website and gives recommendations to each shopper based on their previous searches and purchases. Amazon’s wide selection, low prices, and excellent customer service is remaking industries.  Through strategic marketing, including blogging, social media, and phone conversations, bed and breakfast guests can be persuaded to spend more money during their visits on custom packages and other options. 

Amazon arguably has the most authoritative online product catalog.  To make it easier for customers to learn more about the products on Amazon, they offer the following lists and tools:

  • Amazon Bestseller Lists
  • Amazon Sales Rank
  • Amazon Wishlists 
  • Amazon Look Inside The Book
  • Amazon Search Inside The Book

Amazon’s overarching goal is to be the first place people look to buy anything. Amazon is also referred to as the “unstore.”  According to Bezos, Amazon is not bound by the traditional rules of retail.  This is a list of some of Amazon’s products and services:

  • Amazon Kindle Fire (their own e-book reader)
  • Amazon Create Space (their e-book publishing company)
  • Amazon Audible (audio books)
  • Amazon Web Services (cloud computing)
  • Amazon Prime Video (similar to Netflix)
  • Amazon Marketplace (option to buy from third party sellers)
  • Amazon Fresh (groceries)

Perhaps having a company name beginning with “A” was preferential due to the probability it would occur at the top of any list that was alphabetized.  Does this mean that your bed and breakfast name must start with the letter A?  No, absolutely not.  You can think of a clever and profitable bed and breakfast business name by taking into account: your location, your inn, your decorating theme(s), and so on.

Maybe I should rename my company name from Bed and Breakfast Blogging to something else?  Any suggestions??  Feel free to comment below with positively creative suggestions!

Visual Storytelling: Google Plus

visual-storytelling-google-plus

The world’s biggest search engine, Google, started their own social media network called Google Plus in November of 2011.  This blog post is part of a series of blog posts discussing sections of the book, The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by authors and social media experts Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio.

Google Plus Statistics:

  • With an open interface and community features, there are 250 million Google Plus accounts and 150 million active users across the globe.
  • 42% of Google Plus users are young adults, mostly 18 to 24.  Thus, Google Plus has many young, tech-savvy users.
  • People in the United States, India, and Brazil are the most active on Google Plus.
  • There is a stronger male audience with traditionally male brands doing well.
  • Video is the second most posted content on Google Plus.

Google Plus Features:

  • Users can separate connections by industry or interest with tags
  • People can share new and updates with your specific relevant audience (versus all of your connections)
  • Google’s +1 feature gives users a way of showing agreement or interest in content
  • Information shared on Google Plus is prioritized in online searches
  • Google Hangouts are private live video chats with a select group of people
  • Recorded Hangouts are automatically posted to YouTube (an even wider audience)
  • Manage Google Calendars and keep updated with current events
  • Google Plus supports long posts which you can combine with shorter, snappier posts with photos and videos
  • Ripples show how a post interacted with other Google Plus users

Google Plus Strategies:

  • Huge potential for brands looking to engage and connect with their audience
  • Brands can engage very differently with colleagues and customers
  • Tell a story through the images you share
  • Follow people whose posts and images you can share to inspire others
  • Host Hangouts and share them on YouTube to get traffic between the two sites
  • Tell stories by sharing videos of behind the scenes activity at your company
  • Tell customer stories and have them share their own company testimonials
  • Add great captions to make the images stand out on their own
  • Regularly point back to your website to show customers where they can learn more
  • Share different content with different circles of people
  • Have an active profile to boost you up in Google’s search engine by keeping content fresh and posting regularly
  • Label circles meaningfully to specifically target each group
  • Use the Events feature to promote future launches, conferences, meetings, presentations, awards, and more
  • Send out invitations that then sync with Google Calendars
  • Use the Ripples feature to find out more about how your posts have been shared
  • Use relevant keywords and links to your About page to help drive search engine optimization
  • Since Google Plus has a powerful search facility, add the +1 feature to your company’s web pages

Knowing all this about Google Plus means that it is very smart for companies to have an active social media presence on Google Plus.  Google tends to favor content shared on their own social network.  Feel free to share what you like about Google Plus in the comments below as well as what kind of results your business is getting from your Google Plus efforts.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Visual Storytelling: Instagram

visual-storytelling-instagram

Instagram is a mobile-based app owned by Facebook. This is an app for the click-and-share generation.  The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Video, and Social Media to Market Your Brand by authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio provide useful statistics and suggest helpful strategies for companies to make the most of using Instagram.

Instagram Statistics:

  • 130 million active users every month
  • 70% of which are female
  • Users post 40 million photos per day
  • 8,500 likes per second
  • In 2012, Instagram users liked 78 million photos
  • 1,000 comments per second
  • More than 5 million photos uploaded to Instagram every day
  • Recording time is 15 seconds vs. competitor Vine’s 6 second clips
  • 67% of the top brands are now using Instagram
  • Luxury brands have the highest number of followers

Instagram Strategies:

  • Since Instagram has great photo filtering capacity, use filters creatively
  • Build a community by putting your official hashtag (#) in your banner heading so fans know how to tag you
  • Show behind-the-scenes photos
  • Use Instagram’s built-in statistics
  • Brands should be original, artistic, and community building
  • Post regularly about current events, holidays, and seasons
  • Use specific hashtags (#) for promotions or campaigns
  • Pick hashtags (#) that don’t have double meanings or could be read differently
  • Don’t use too many hashtags, need a central focus to your brand’s message
  • Join in the discussion if people are posting comments
  • Ask customers to upload their own photos and videos
  • Since 70% of users are female and women are responsible for the majority of household spending, companies can use this knowledge to share what attracts most female buyers

Using Instagram is a great way for businesses to let their target market(s) get to know what they are all about. It is essential that companies identify their brand’s central message in order to make the most out of knowing what photos and videos to share as well as which hashtags (including customized ones) to add to the posts. Smart businesses join in the conversation in response to when people post comments.  Instagram is a great social media platform for companies to use in order to promote their products and services.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Psychology

Visual Storytelling: Twitter

visual-storytelling-Twitter

The Power of Visual Storytelling: How To Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand is a fantastic online marketing book for businesses.  Authors Ekaterina Walter (@Ekaterina) and Jessica Gioglio (@savvybostonian) do an excellent job of giving practical advice that businesses can apply to better market themselves online.  This particular blog post focuses on what the authors tell us about Twitter.

Twitter is an innovative marketing tool as well as a keen way for businesses to connect with their audiences and provide quality customer service.  In fact, of all the social media platforms, Twitter is currently the most popular with Fortune Global 100 Companies.

Super Twitter Statistics:

  • More than half of all links shared on Twitter are images
  • Over 460,000 accounts are created every day
  • 20.6 million adults in the United States access Twitter at least once a month
  • 177 million tweets are sent every day
  • 24% of Twitter users check Twitter at least once a day
  • 54% of Twitter users are male and 46% are female
  • 46% of users are aged 18-34, so a high percentage of young people
  • 67% of users more likely to buy products from brands they follow on Twitter

Smart Twitter Capabilities:

  • Companies that use Twitter gain twice the number of leads each month that their non-tweeting counterparts
  • Twitter cards make it possible to attached media experiences to tweet that link to your content
  • Tweets that link to participating websites can be expanded by users to show a whole range of media
  • If you add the code on your own site, you can determine what sort of content will be shown by a Twitter link
  • Users interested in a particular offer or promotion will be able to fill out a field on the card
  • That field links their existing information, allowing them to quickly register

Savvy Twitter Strategies:

  • Develop your company’s voice
  • Tweet around several key passion points
  • Provide company news and updates
  • Offer unique deals to your Twitter followers
  • Give your clients (and potential clients) excellent customer service
  • Know what you want your followers to associate with your brand
  • Give them reasons to follow your company
  • The photos and videos you share should integrate with your overall strategy
  • Show a more relaxed side to your brand
  • Each tweet should be able to be understood on its own
  • Mix up your content
  • Ask questions to spark conversations
  • Use links to articles, photos, videos, and blog posts
  • Retweet your followers
  • Find out what your followers are interested in and share that
  • Use hashtags (#) to join in bigger conversations on a topic or start your own (#)
  • Use calls to action including RT (retweet)
  • Consider the locations and time zones of your audience
  • Use Promoted Tweet or Trend features to support your key messages

Given the popularity of Twitter and its capabilities, it makes sense for businesses to follow these social media strategies in order to promote their business and provide excellent customer service.  A special thank you to authors Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio for letting me share some of the content in their book.

 

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography

Visual Storytelling: Facebook

Product DetailsWe have been taking an in-depth look at the incredibly informative book called, The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand. The Power of Visual Storytelling is written by authors and social media experts Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio. They devote a whole section of their book to informing the reader about Facebook statistics and giving profitable strategies for businesses using Facebook.

With over 1 billion active users, Facebook allowed brands and organizations to set up public pages in 2007.  Text, image, and video posts can all be seamlessly integrated in a user-friendly design.  Businesses can encourage comments, likes, and shares from their followers.

Facebook Statistics:

  • Half of Facebook fans prefer the brand pages to company websites
  • Posts between 100-250 characters get about 60% more likes, comments, & shares
  • Post at least one to two times per week to stay top-of-mind and relevant
  • Pictures receive 120-180% more engagement from fans than text-based posts.
  • 200 million photos get uploaded to Facebook on an average day
  • 80% of social media users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook.
  • Facebook is available in more than 70 languages
  • Facebook accounts for 1 in every 7 minutes spent online
  • Facebook accounts for 3 of every 4 minutes on social networking websites
  • U.S. desktop users spend an average of about six hours every month on Facebook
  • U.S. mobile users spend an average of eleven hours every month on Facebook
  • 2.5 billion content shares a day on Facebook
  • 2.7 billion likes a day on Facebook
  • 15 million brand pages on Facebook

Facebook Strategies:

  • Create photos specifically to generate conversations
  • Ask fans to upload their own videos
  • Create campaigns specifically for Facebook fans
  • Photos and videos work really well
  • Great creative with your header photo by choosing something eye-catching and inspiring
  • Change the header photo now and then to keep it fresh
  • Offer creative visual contests to engage your fans in a sustainable way
  • Ask questions to spark engagement
  • Improve customer service by talking to fans, encouraging feedback, and sharing images
  • Encourage user-generated content
  • Followers relate more to brands
  • Fans feel like they are an active part of the product experience than a passive consumer

The authors recommend that businesses use Facebook in order to attract fans, build brand awareness, and increase customer loyalty.  The key is engaging in conversations with fans, sharing useful content, and posting pictures and videos (from the brand itself as well as from the fans). Facebook is a valuable social media platform with which businesses can tell their story and interact with their fans.

Visual storytelling can take place on Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Slideshare, and Google Plus.  We will look at more social media platforms as the Visual Storytelling series continues.

The Tao of Twitter (Part 3)

tao of twitterIf you have not yet read the #1 bestselling book about Twitter by Mark W. Schaefer, called the Tao of Twitter, we highly recommend it.  We have shared how Twitter can help you get more business as well as explained Mark’s three essential components to achieving Tao:

  • Targeted connections
  • Meaningful content
  • Authentic helpfulness

We have gone in depth on Mark’s concept of providing authentic helpfulness. Now we will explore how to attract the right Twitter followers (targeted connections) to find your tribe.

 

  • Start following people, companies, and brands you already know using the search box
  • Look at Who To Follow (Twitter makes recommendations based on who you are already following)
  • Mine Twitter lists which are categorized by special interest or geographic location
  • Use Twellow an exhaustive directory of Twitter members by every category, industry, interest, and city
  • Add yourself to up to ten special-interest categories to make it easy for people to find your B&B
  • Search for related businesses by relevant hashtags
  • Look through other social media accounts
  • Go hyperlocal to find real time tweets within a few miles of where you are
  • Find by “prominence” at WeFollow a user-generated directory
  • Join Twitter chats–regularly scheduled online meetings based on special interests
  • #Discover to find friends, popular accounts, or activity
  • Add your Twitter handle to your business cards and email signature
  • Consistently tweet quality content to provide value
  • Make tweetable moments in presentations
  • Live tweet an industry event hashtag
  • Hold a contest to get new people to follow you and retweet your contest to other potential connections
  • Team up with another business, brand, or a media partner
  • Offer exclusive content, discounts, and insider access to your Twitter followers
  • Watch what and who your followers are talking about
  • Use advanced search for more in-depth searching
  • Use specialized search prompts “keyword” near: location

Bed and breakfast owners and innkeepers will be well on their way to building a relevant and targeted community. Let Bed and Breakfast Blogging write search-engine friendly blogs and give you an active presence on social media so your rooms are consistently booked.

Verify Your Website To Pin Smarter

 

verify-your-website-to-pin-smarter

Pinterest helps people discover things in a simple and visual way. Pinners might find something they love while browsing your boards, scrolling through a category you’re listed in or searching for your bed and breakfast directly.  It is important to verify your website to pin smarter.

Pinterest offers Business sites to help brands and businesses who wish to use Pinterest to connect with their audience. In this blog post I will tell you exactly why  you want to verify your bed and breakfast’s website for your Business Pinterest Profile. Without verifying your website, you will be missing some very important information!

First, to verify your website, visit your Settings page and click on the Verify Website button. When your website is verified, people will see a checkmark next to your domain in search results. They will also see the full website URL and checkmark on your profile.

The verification badge helps people identify high-quality sources of content and more easily find the business they want in search results.  There you’ll find Pinterest tools and resources relevant to you, and see examples of how other businesses are using Pinterest.

Pinterest offers tips to businesses, including:
  • Pinning from various sources rather than one specific site.
  • Pinning from within Pinterest to engage with others (pinning is one of the most social activities on Pinterest and it’s how any user really builds his/her network of followers)
  • Creating at least a few boards that cover a broad range of interests, rather than maintaining a single board devoted to one topic.
For businesses, pinning can be a great way to highlight aspects of your brand that may not come to mind at first when people consider your brand. For example, not everyone knows:

  • B&B’s can have spas, salons, and shops
  • Bed and breakfasts can offer retreats and some perform weddings
  • All the wonderful amenities bed and breakfasts offer
  • About your wonderful hospitality and homemade cooking

Pinterest can also be a great tool to learn what your audience and potential guests like. Once your website is verified, you have access to Pinterest Analytics.  This is the why I was talking about.  This shows you which pins are most popular with pinners and see which pins are driving the most traffic to your site!

You can also see what boards your stuff appears on, how the pins are described and what people pin along with your stuff.  All of these insights will help you make smarter choices about what you pin and even develop a pinning strategy.  Watch out: pinning can be addictive!

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography