Your greatest fans will grow your hospitality business. I highly recommend Pat Flynn's book Superfans: The Easy Way To Stand Out, Grow Your Tribe, and Build a Successful Business. He outlines three missions to turn your casual audience into an active audience, to connect with your active audience, and to turn your active audience into superfans.
The most important way to create superfans is to focus on enhancing your guests' experiences. First, identify and address the biggest challenges of your ideal guests. Next, determine how to connect with your audience and make them feel special.
Capture people's attention. Show them quickly how you can add value to their lives.
People become superfans because of how the person, product, or brand makes them feel. This requires creating magical moments for them over time.
Mission 1: Turn Your Casual Audience to Your Active Audience
First, your casual audience are the people who come to you randomly. This could be through online searching, social media, or word of mouth. Active audience members are your subscribers and followers. You need to connect with them in some way.
Learn The Lyrics
You must know exactly how your target audience describes their problems. Pay attention to what customers are saying. This gives you incredibly valuable information about what they need and how they describe their needs.
First, find conversations that are already happening online in forums, blogs, social media (e.g. Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups), and in the search engines.
Second, ask people to describe their biggest challenge related to a specific topic. They reach out those who respond with follow-up questions.
Third, have real-life conversations with your target audience. It is essential to stay connected to people in your audience. Learn how you can help them. Use the language they use.
Find five key phrases your audience uses to describe their challenges. Then write something and test the response you get from your audience.
Break The Ice
When you're with someone you can relate to and you have something in common with them, you're more likely to have a good time. This explains why two complete strangers, who learn they share something in common, can have instant rapport with each other.
To break the ice with those who become your greatest fans, you must get comfortable sharing things about yourself and your life. Use your own voice and be authentic.
Share something your audience doesn't know about you. There will be people in your audience totally relate!
Paint A Picture
Paint a picture of what life will be like if your guests DO take action. If they do stay at your accommodations or book a private event with you. Conversely, share what life will be life if they DON'T take action.
First, it starts by identifying the problem you solve. Provide lots of detail. Know exactly what keeps your audience up at night. Share examples of transformations by quoting your satisfied guests. This is incredibly powerful. Use testimonials from previous guests.
Return Every Handshake
Author Pat Flynn states that the handshake may be the closest things humans have to a universal greeting. If you're in person, smile. When appropriate reach out to shake hands with guests.
Another rule of thumb is to respond to each person who leaves a comment on your blog or in social media. Reach out to everyone who takes the time to personally email or message you. When you give people extra unexpected attention, you're going to be appreciated.
Mission 2: Connect With Your Active Audience
People want to feel like they belong. Engage with them by asking relevant questions. People also love to vote, participate, and get involved. That's why polls are so popular. This will also give you more insight about your audience.
Create a challenge for your audience. What activity related to your brand will bring people together? Perhaps you have a photo challenge based on a theme related to your inn. For example, Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast in Missoula, Montana, had a Facebook contest to submit a picture of something blue in nature (since blue is part of their name).
The prize was a free overnight stay for 2 at their inn (with a delicious breakfast in the morning)! That winner continues to tag them in photos on social media. A win-win for sure!
Share behind the scenes. When people see how things are made, they feel great about your business and its effort to uphold high standards. Share a picture of from your kitchen of your team making muffins or baking cookies. Make their mouths water!
By giving your audience some "inside knowledge" they feel closer to your company. You're making your audience feel special. This connects them to your brand. Sharing more of who you are and what your hospitality business does goes a long way toward connecting with your audience.
The book also recommends giving your community a name. For example, fans of Star Trek are called "Trekkies." Make the name catchy and memorable. Be original enough that it will not get confused with other names. You could even "crowdsource" your decision with an online poll! When the name sticks, offer swag that shows it off (like t-shirts, coffee mugs, and tote bags). Make sure it is something you really want people saying all the time, because they will!
Mission 3: Turn Your Connected Community To Superfans
When you go above and beyond for your guests, they will remember. They will return again and again. They may also refer your accommodations to their friends. According to the book, it's as simple as remembering who people are and making your interactions with them about them (not you). If you see or hear something they like, make a note of it for future reference.
Offer your biggest fans access to something other guests do not receive. For example, perhaps you host an exclusive invitation-only dinner. Another idea is to share "inside information" only with your e-newsletter subscribers and/or social media followers.
The key to creating superfans is enhancing the guest experience, being easy to relate to, and helping guests feel like they belong. Your superfans will spread the word that you're a place that offers excellent hospitality and luxurious accommodations. They will be your greatest fans.
Looking For Marketing Assistance?
Innkeepers wear a lot of hats--including chef hats! If you recognize the value of blogging, email marketing, and social media, but have little time (or desire) to do these activities, please contact Kristi Dement of Bed and Breakfast Blogging. We can put together a solid marketing plan based on attracting your specific target audience. You're welcome to have a free (no-obligation) conversation with me about your business.
Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography