This is not something I generally write about because it pertains to my own business, but it is very relevant in terms of search, and the effect that being on related directories and how social media can make a difference in getting your business found online. Not just your website, but any other related media that may help a business get found on the web.
Most of the businesses I work with have very small marketing budgets, so I put together the tools and information that can help a business get found offline and online, but it’s their own job to take the time and energy to implement them.
The key is for the owner of the business to use the tools provided and take the time to implement them. A box full of power saws is worthless if they just sit in the garage collecting dust, they don’t have the ability to magically rise up and cut down the trees by themselves. A twitter account or Facebook fan page does nothing for a business if the business doesn’t take a few minutes to actually use it.
While time is scarce to many people, taking the time to market means the difference between a business sinking or swimming. So if you think about it, taking a few hours initially and then setting aside a little bit of one’s own time to stay on top of things = staying in business. Innkeepers have less time then even the average business but………………
What is your time worth to you?
Not having time is no excuse. Make time.
To go off topic for a minute and relate this to bed and breakfasts: In the last 6 months I have seen sites and businesses coming up high in search that have sites that were designed many years ago or self done. None with fancy bells and whistles in them, many with copy un-optimized and no keywords at all, but the owners are taking the time to actually market the business by making sure they were on the relevant directories and using the tools (social media amongst them) to get high rankings and get their business found.
A good case study in the works is a B&B in Canada, who has outdated information on their website from 2009. They have both a very thriving Facebook Fan Page and Facebook Group, 988 fans and 3109 group members. It’s a 3 bedroom B&B without even online reservations. The owner told me when I spoke with him several weeks ago that they are booked pretty much all the time and have abandoned pretty much all other marketing.
Read into that what you will. I think it’s pretty impressive personally.
Here’s a good example.
Two Hunting Guides: both are provided the same tools, information and suggestions, they have similar but unique sites.
Guide #1 does nothing with any of the information provided with the excuse “I am not computer or technically literate” and “I don’t have time“. Guide #2 also says something similar but is willing to learn and ask for help and also take the time.
Guide #1 doesn’t list on any of the directories that are out there (many free) or try to market online (or offline) at all. Nor do they ask for help. Guide #2 does take the time to list on Google Places, Bing Business portal etc,, as well as adding twitter, Facebook and a blog to his stable of marketing tools and then using them as well.
Guess who is getting found in search and will continue to get found? The key being Guide #2 has taken the time and is continuing to do so.
You can spend a million dollars on the most well designed fancy dancy website with Flash, photo slide shows, themed music and great copy with the proper keywords internally (in the coding) and externally, but if you don’t take the time to actually market it, its much like opening a store (not letting anyone know your out there) and then yelling out the window, “hey we’re open.” And then expecting the hordes to beat down the door.
Don’t forget it’s not just online marketing, it’s in person networking, it’s taking the time to think about what businesses compliment you and making sure they know who you are. Going to chamber networking events or trade shows and handing out your business cards and brochures. A good business always has their business cards with them, even at their children’s soccer games. Innkeepers should always have backup stashes of cards, in their bags, in their car and even in the supermarket. You never know who you are going to run into, someone may not be a potential guest, but their in-laws or friends might be.
If you don’t take the time to market your business (especially using all the free tools out there currently available) you have no one to blame but yourself. Even if your scared to death of being in a room full of people at a networking event, you need to work on overcoming that fear.
To relate it to a restaurant: You can have the best food and best service in the world, but you’re not going to do as well as the guy down the street with mediocre food and mediocre service that markets their place and your excuse for not doing it is “you don’t have time”.
If you don’t know how, ask for help or take the time to get help with something you don’t understand, there is a wealth of information out there available for free and many resources out there, people among them that are willing to help, all you need to do is ask.
If you’re not and you don’t, your just making excuses.
Make the time, There is no excuse in this day and age, because if your competition is doing it and you’re not, where do you think customers are going to go?
Make the time to go network, make the time to see where you can post information about your business. This is relevant to any type of business but for hospitality where more and more people are coming by word of mouth, online and off, more and more important.
“No time” excuse = no profits = no business.
A good article came out this morning from Hubspot (relevant to online search and social media) worth reading: 7 Ways to Integrate Search Engine and Social Media Marketing
and from Tnooz as well Can travel businesses afford to completely ignore social media?