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Marketing 102

February 3, 2008

by Kit Cassingham

Marketing is a key to success, but the foundation of your marketing plan has to be a strong image or brand. Marketing is a way of living and working, it must be a constant activity, and always on your mind. What marketing strategies will you develop and implement?

The previous article on marketing activities set out some basic terms and concepts, as well as reminding you of the need for a sharply-focused image or brand. This article continues by sharing some image building concepts, advertising, and public relations. This is the second installment of the two-part series on marketing.

Your marketing plan creates a rich tapestry of images, colors, feelings, and textures for your guests so they can know you even before they set foot (or ear) inside your inn. Enhance your inn's image with this weaving. Your name and logo should capture the essence of you and your inn. Use them on your brochures, letterhead, sign, and in your advertising. You want a clear, consistent image.

You can read an example this in my article image building. It's an interesting story.

Knowing who you are and exactly your market is the key to success. Every decision is made with the customer in mind. Some potential customers might be driven away if your image is not for them, but stores with an identity crisis eventually run into trouble. As long as you know who you are and your clients know who you are, you will be fine. Vernon works on his store’s image daily by asking four questions:

  1. Is this consistent with who we are?
  2. Does this help me achieve my goal?
  3. Will our customers like it?
  4. How can we do all this and still make money?

There are four approaches for buying advertising:

  1. do what your competition does
  2. succumb to the sales reps
  3. act out of desperation
  4. plan carefully

The best approach is to plan carefully. In planning your marketing campaign be targeted and focused, avoid the shotgun approach; the rifle approach is more effective. An even move effective approach is a high powered scope on your rifle. You want to pinpoint your target or audience.

Assess your inn. Be brutally honest with yourself. What are its strengths and weaknesses? How do those strengths and weaknesses compare to your competition's? How can you use this information in your marketing? How will you use this to help you target your advertising?

Marketing is strategizing, planning, and implementing. You should create ever-widening concentric circles to reach an ever-widening circle of guests. Your marketing plan should include all relevant media (newspapers, magazines, radio and TV), gift shop items (private label soaps, wine, water bottles), fliers and the internet.

Marketing, like walking, is a series of interconnected steps. Take your first step and you are mid-stride as the next step starts. The first step finishes as the second step becomes mid-stride and you then start your next step. That’s what you do with marketing —- you keep moving through your various marketing steps, planning and implementing, planning and implementing.

What about PR and your B&B? I'm using PR in the sense of activities you participate in that tell others who you are —- what image you want them to have of you; this isn't about press releases, though press releases may be utilized to help spread the word. According to the Institute of Public Relations, PR "is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its public". It isn't limited to certain media and isn't focused on promoting products, but rather is focused on issues. People increasingly want to know they are doing business with a company that shares their values and concerns. The choices you make help your guests understand the difference between you and other inns. Examples of PR include supporting charitable events and positive community participation.

Here are some principles of PR, as they apply to a B&B:

  1. PR deals with reality and facts, not facades or fiction
  2. PR is a public, not personal, service
  3. PR involves a two-way communication

To conduct successful PR campaigns:

  1. Be sufficiently self-disciplined to execute minute details of a plan and the subsequent action
  2. Be a prolific producer of new ideas — have and use your imagination, strive to be attention grabbing so your B&B inn stands out in the crowd.
  3. Be able to make decisions quickly
  4. Be personal in your approach to the actions you take

With the basics gleaned from the two marketing articles you have a handle on how to proceed to make your bed and breakfast successful. Create a strong image for your B&B inn, develop a marketing campaign to get the word out about your inn, and work the plan daily. Marketing is the most important line item of your budget.




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