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Marketing 101

January 27, 2008

by Kit Cassingham

Marketing is one of the keys to success for any business, B&Bs are no exception. Develop marketing plans that include internet marketing, advertising, brochures, and various marketing activities. Don't forget that your hospitality and your customer service are in some ways your most important marketing activity.

Marketing your B&B is a big key of success, closely following your customer service as the best marketing tool you have. The focus of this marketing discussion is the basics of the activity you take to get the word out about your bed and breakfast. This is the first installment of a two-part series.

The basic purpose of inn marketing is to build awareness of your B&B so business will follow. Do you advertise or pursue publicity —- and what's the difference between the two activities?

Advertising is a message you pay for. You control the message and thus it's less credible. Publicity is free, it's what someone else says about you and thus is more objective. You have minimal control because it's the truth from the author's perspective and thus has high credibility. How do you know what to do when? This article is just the tip of the iceberg in the answer to that question. The ebook Marketing -- Standing Out From the Competition teaches you what to do.

Your job in creating a brand is to focus on a narrow market niche. The key to making this strategy work is knowing who you are and exactly who you are trying to reach. Every decision is made with that in mind. As an innkeeper, what needs do you satisfy and what services do you provide? What will attract guests to your B&B? Before any business action, ask yourself questions like, "Does this help me achieve my goal?" or "How can I do all this and still make money?" to make sure you stay focused.

A consistent and focused image, called branding, will attract the guests you want to cater to, and will help you establish who will come to know you and love you. Businesses that don't focus on and control their niche suffer an identity crisis and eventually run into trouble. Avoid the identity crisis; stay true to your image, and —- if you are satisfying needs —- you will succeed. Image costs more money than No-image or Fuzzy-image, but will garner you more money and success.

Marketing basics can be remembered by the five P’s:

  • Product
  • Place
  • Price
  • Promotion
  • Public Relations (PR)

Marketing is turning prospects into business. The marketing you do communicates your identity for your guests to relate to. Marketing activities you will be involved in are:

  1. advertising -— informing people of your inn and what it offers
  2. promotion -— events that create a potential sales situation
  3. PR -— shapes attitudes about your inn
  4. sales -— the actual selling

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout (see the reading list) offers some interesting ideas about market positioning and strategy. If you find this information interesting be sure to buy the book to get the total collection of wisdom. In summary, the laws are:

  1. The Law of Leadership: It's better to be first than to be better
  2. The Law of the Category: If you can't be first in a category, set up a category you can be first in
  3. The Law of the Mind: It's better to be first in the mind than in the marketplace
  4. The Law of Perception: Marketing is not a battle of products, but a battle of perceptions
  5. The Law of Focus: The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect's mind
  6. The Law of Exclusivity: Two companies can't own the same word in the prospect's mind
  7. The Law of the Ladder: The strategy to use depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder
  8. The Law of Duality: In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race
  9. The Law of the Opposite: If you're shooting for 2nd place, your strategy is determined by the leader
  10. The Law of Division: Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories
  11. The Law of Perspective: Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time
  12. The Law of Line Extension: There's an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand
  13. The Law of Sacrifice: You have to give up something in order to get something
  14. The Law of Attributes: For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute
  15. The Law of Candor: When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive
  16. The Law of Singularity: In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results
  17. The Law of Unpredictability: Unless you write your competitors' plans, you can't predict the future
  18. The Law of Success: Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure
  19. The Law of Failure: Failure is to be expected and accepted
  20. The Law of Hype: The situation is often the opposite of how it appears in the press
  21. The Law of Acceleration: Successful programs are not built on fads, but on trends
  22. The Law of Resources: Without adequate funding an idea won't get off the ground

Pay attention to the above "laws". Incorporate these laws into your thinking as well as action and see what difference they make to you and your success.

Why do B&Bs fail? As with other companies, the four main reasons are:

  1. lack of planning
  2. poor management
  3. inadequate marketing
  4. insufficient money to implement a proper marketing strategy

These are discussed in my various B&B ebooks.

Never stop your marketing activities. When money gets tight the last expense to cut is marketing. If you have carefully done your research and planning, you will have accounted for slim months and planned for marketing to continue.

Think of marketing not as a cost but as a capitalization expense -— you are building your business by expanding your market. Invariably when a troubled inn comes to me for help because they don't have the business they want and need, I find that their marketing budget is too small.

Marketing entails more than sales; it also includes:

  • communicating
  • maintaining a presence and effort
  • planning, research, promotion
  • positioning —- niche marketing, telemarketing, direct mail, evaluation
  • your image, the niche that attracts your guests

You know some terms and concepts now. You've yet again been advised of the wisdom of carefully defining your market niche. And warnings have been voiced about the folly of an inadequate marketing program. Next week I'll talk more about developing and maintaining a strong image and marketing activities.




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