By Scott Thomas
Most innkeepers seem to have an awareness of a need to present a consistent marketing message. They want their website to appear uniform from page-to-page. They want their blog to look like their website – even if it is hosted separately. They want the style of their newsletters or their booking engine to match the style of their website. Going a bit farther, maybe they even want their Facebook page, Google+ page, or other social media pages to resemble their website theme.
Think of it from the perspective of your guests… If you have done all (or most) of these things, you have presented a consistent marketing message in one sense – a consistent appearance. Some refer to this as “branding”. But today we will be looking at a different type of consistency in the marketing message – one which is not often mentioned in the B&B world – the frequency with which it is delivered. In doing so we’ll step back a bit from the technical, and look into the murky uncertainty of the psychology of the guest, to consider the impact of our choices.
When we build our website, we may update it with new photos, a new recipe from time-to-time, etc., but for the most part it remains static. Whether we like to think so or not, it is essentially an online brochure for our business (and yes, it is possible to feed changing content to the website from the blog, Facebook page, etc., to keep it current – but that is not our topic for today). Let’s look, instead, at things that require repetitive publication: blogs, newsletters, and social media.
In previous posts, we’ve discussed ways to automate posting of blog posts to social media – there are many tools for that (including plug-ins for your blogging platform), so while that helps you keep up with all the places you should be getting your message to, it is not our focus for this article.
Innkeepers are busy people – wearing the ‘hats’ of many occupations. One you can not afford to neglect, however, is marketing, and one of the most important aspects is to keep sending out the message on a regular basis.
Perhaps hoping for an answer that will allow them to ignore, or at least postpone, their marketing message, innkeepers often ask, “How often should I [fill in the blank with “post to my blog”, “post on Facebook”, “post on Twitter”, “send my newsletter”, or any other repetitive marketing activity]?” Unfortunately, you can’t postpone these things, or they will get away from you. And that can have very serious consequences. Just as innkeepers who blog regularly, are active in one or more areas of social media, and send regular newsletters see their placement in search results improve, and their businesses grow, those who decide that these activities take too much time, and postpone them until they aren’t busy, see their search placement drop and their business follow suit. Oh, it doesn’t happen immediately – that’s what gives the false sense of security. You let it slide for a couple of weeks and you stay busy. But, in reality, the guests coming in the next couple of weeks, for the most part, did their searching weeks, or even months, ago.
No, the payoff comes over an extended time – usually several months. For seasonal properties, it may not even show up until the next season.
Think of it from the perspective of your guests. If they’re new to your property, they’re not likely to search for your name, but for information about your region. If you’re blogging about things to do in the region, your old blog posts and social media posts (especially, at the moment, posts on your Google+ Local page), may bring you to their attention. However, the older they get, and the less frequently you post, the lower your “authority” becomes, and the less likely you will appear for that search.
Similarly, if your prospective guest has signed up for your newsletter (or watches your blog), and you suddenly stop sending newsletters (or posting to your blog), what message do they receive? You (the innkeeper) may think they’ll assume you’re so busy you can’t keep up with it (which may be true). However, from the guest’s perspective, it may look like you don’t care. If they assume you don’t care about your blog or newsletter (i.e., keeping prospective guests informed), they may assume there are other things you don’t care about, as well.
Keep the marketing message coming on a consistent basis. So, how often should you…? Of course there is no hard and fast answer. The most important thing would be to send a consistent marketing message. Ideally, you might post to the blog weekly. But if you can only blog twice a month in your busy season, be sure you never fail to blog twice a month, all year ’round, so guest expectations are met. Don’t stop just because you’re busy. Write extra blog posts in the slower times, and release them when you’re busy. If you can’t write a long blog post, write a short one. Take a photo of your garden and post it with a caption. Just keep that consistent message coming.
Send your newsletter monthly, and don’t let one slide. People who follow your newsletters are looking forward to hearing the latest from you.