No Sorry The Marketing Manager Is Out
You can almost guarantee that the minute I leave my desk and pick up my mop and duster the phone will ring. On a good day it will be someone wanting to make a booking on a date I have available, but as most of my guests book online, it will usually be someone wanting to sell me something. And once or twice a day that something will be advertising space on a holiday accommodation directory.
Now it sort of depends on what sort of day I’m having as to how I respond to these phone calls. But imagine this, you’ve got 4 B&B rooms, a dining room & kitchen to clean, a cake to make, a dog to walk, shopping to buy and this is the 4th such call you’ve had to race down the stairs to get today.
“Hello, may I speak to the Marketing Manager or person in charge of advertising?”
“You’re speaking to her, who’s calling?”
“Oh hello this is Sunshine B&B Holiday directory, we have a special offer on at the moment and can offer you a premium listing for only £95 for a year”
“I’m sorry I’m not interested”
The wise salesperson at the other end of the phone will now say “Thank you for your time then, Goodbye” Unfortunately this is rarely the case
“Can you tell me why you’re not interested?”
“I’m very happy with how my B&B is being promoted at the moment and I’m not looking for any more advertising”
“But this is only £95, you only have to make one booking through us and you’ve paid for your listing.”
Now here’s the rub. As well as 2 or 3 calls a day, I also receive the same number of emails asking me to join a directory. I once worked out ( just for fun ) that if I joined every directory that contacted me I’d need a marketing budget in excess of £60,000 a year. So you see I could advertise with every directory who contacted me and, yes, the bookings I made would probably cover the cost but there’s little point in being in business if virtually all of my turnover just covers my advertising costs.
This is the point where you need to be tough & don’t let these clever sales people play on your insecurities about your business. I’m an experienced B&B owner and B&B marketeer, I know what works for my business in terms of marketing and I’m no longer worried about just putting the phone down on someone f they’re taking my time and refuse to take the hint. But when I was just starting up I would panic everytime I got one of these calls. If I don’t advertise with these people will I lose out on business?
I’m not anti B&B directories. There are some good ones out there. I’m just anti some of the tactics employed to push people into buying advertising.
So how do I decide which directories to join?
- Decide on a marketing budget for a year and try and stick to it. For a new B&B I was told that the rule of thumb is to allocate 20% of your projected turnover to marketing in the first year – remember this needs to include your website and search engine optimisation.
- Join some free directories. There are several directories that offer a free basic listing. The advantage of being listed on these, provided they allow you a link to your own website, is that they provide incoming links to your website which will help with Search Engine Optimisaion.
- Ask B&B owners locally what works for them. Some local websites work very well at attracting guests into the area.
- Make sure you measure which marketing is working for you. Get Google Analytics on your website – it’s free and will give you loads of information, but probably most importantly will tell you which directories are sending people to your website, how many pages they’re viewing & how long they spend on your site.
- Ask your guests when they book how they found you ( if you’ve got online booking, have a drop down box with the same question ). No point asking people when they arrive as the answer will be “The Internet”
- Take up any offers of free advertising for 3 or 6 months. These will give you a chance to see if that particular directory is working for you.
- If you decide you want to join a directory, go to Google and type the keywords that people would use to find a B&B in your area. So I would type in “B&B shropshire” or similar. If the directory isn’t appearing on the front page I would ask how that directory attracts potential B&B guests.
- Ask if the directory is using social networking to promote their customer. People running these sites should be experts in marketing – that’s their job – and if they’re not using all the opportunities possible to get customers to their site, I want to know why.
When you start out you may not get it right – I made some colossal advertising mistakes in the beginning – but by tracking your stats & knowing where people find you you can start to be brutal & cut out the directories that don’t work for you.
Finally, if you own an accommodation directory and are told you’re speaking to the cleaner and that the marketing manager is out, take the hint and take me off your contact list.