Tag Archives: business owners

How One Man Immediately Improved His Company

improved-his-company

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.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Make It All About Your Bed and Breakfast Guests

make it all about them

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!

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

The Art of Social Selling

the art of social selling

 

I highly recommend Shannon Belew’s book called The Art of Social Selling: Finding and Engaging Customers on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and Other Social Networks. Belew says the power has shifted from the brand to the consumer.  Marketing has become a two-way conversation with the customer. The art of social selling is based entirely on your ability to build relationships.

 

Did you know that over one BILLION people are active on social networks? Thus, it is extremely important that you know where your customers are hanging out.

Shannon Belew defines “social selling” as the identification, targeting, and reaching out to prospective and existing customers through social media channels and social communities in an effort to engage them in conversations that result in a potentially mutually beneficial relationship.  This means being more social (listening and conversing about the customer’s needs) and less traditional selling.  The heart of social selling is relationship building.

This book reveals Belew’s ten most important rules for online social interactions:

1) Be genuine: your social networking persona should be an extension of your real persona

2) Listen, listen, listen: to truly hear what the customer is saying so you can present a viable solution you must find and monitor conversations that relate to your prospective customer’s needs, concerns, and interests with the goal of remaining relevant to your customers

3) Be responsive: to customer-related complaints and concerns voiced across social media channels

4) Follow the leader: follow group guidelines, watch how members participate and interact with one another

5) Tailor the conversation: find common ground and share information relevant to your audience

6) Be helpful: offer educational opportunities, general support, and even inspiration

7) Identify the enter and exit signs: know if it is polite to enter the online interaction and make sure to exit gracefully

8) Maintain separation of professional and personal: make sure what you share is suitable for both audiences

9) Be consistent: give people a clear expectation of who you are and what your area of expertise is

10) Admit when you are wrong: be willing to apologize, it is a sign of strength and goodwill

Shannon Belew’s concept of “unselling:

  • Unselling is a process that occurs over time
  • Requires consistent interaction with your prospects via social media
  • This establishes your credibility as a good resource
  • Identify and interact with industry influencers
  • Be a thought leader to build social influence
  • Embrace consultative sales in which you are developing conversations that educate and assist the prospect through the buying process
  • This opens the door to an increased amount of sharing
  • This increases the comfort level of prospects as well as puts you in the role of expert

Belew talks about word of mouth marketing.  Social shoppers are not only influenced by their friends and family, but by perfect strangers, too.  Encourage your happy and satisfied customers to provide online testimonials.  Include your links on thank-you pages and emails. Respond to negative reviews quickly.  Thank customers publicly for their positive reviews.

In this book, Shannon Belew cites a Technorati Report that stated that blogs are the third-most influential digital or online resource and the fifth most trusted resource on the internet.  Blogs are great for sharing on social media.  Plus, points made in a blog post can be posted or tweeted on social media.  Later in the book, Belew gives specific tips about using each of the major social media channels.  This is an incredible resource for business owners.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The link to the book is an affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase I will earn a commission from Amazon.  I only recommend what I know and love.

Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography