Do you have a restaurant marketing plan? A clearly outlined plan for promoting your BnB? Or are you looking for hotel marketing strategy?
If you are thinking ‘yes’ to any of these, or if you own a likewise brand and are looking for ways to improve the promotional side of your business, then read on. In this article, I'm going to tell you how to create a content marketing strategy. Focused on hospitality brands: restaurants, hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts and so on.
Welcome to our ultimate guide for creating your own restaurant, AirBnB or hotel marketing strategy.
Restaurant, BnB and Hotel Marketing Strategy
Content marketing strategy is a buzzword. Having one is the norm – and not without good reason. Content has become the most effective marketing and advertising tool you can use. However: randomly throwing blog posts, photos and videos out there will do nothing but harm to your brand’s image. And that’s why you need a good strategy.
As a hotel, restaurant or bed & breakfast it’s important to always keep your brand’s message first. The content you put out there should fit and translate your mission and vision at all times. The way to do this? A well-build strategy. That is framed around your brand’s purpose and core message.
About two and a half years ago, I dove into all things Content Marketing related. What I did?
- Examine existing models and frameworks
- Extract the most important, interesting and useful parts
- Put these into practice
- And then into 1 useful step-by-step guide and framework
Which we have, since then, been using for all of our clients. And it has proven its success.
The 7 pillars of your marketing strategy
Every content marketing strategy should start with the basics. I have no idea why but for some reason many of the models online seem to skip this part or only treat it very briefly. That’s ridiculous to me, since the basics form the essential building blocks to a successful strategy. Hence all the strategies we create consist out of 7 ‘building blocks’.
The framework exists out of your brand’s:
- Target Audience
- Unique Value Proposition(s)
The Core – Who Are We?
The first two assets in your restaurant, BnB or hotel marketing strategy answer the question: who are we?
Your brand’s purpose might be the easiest and at the same time the hardest ‘basic’ building block to establish. It’s everything. And it’s probably what got you started in the first place. But a purpose can also develop over time.
Your brand’s purpose is why you exist. What do you believe in, what are you fighting for? What pain points are you solving, what problem in the (hospitality/tourism) world?
This is not a mission statement! It’s more than that. It goes deeper. When we look at mission statements of hotels, we’ll find incredibly general things. Like ‘To be the world’s leading boutique hotel chain’.
Your purpose goes a step further. Why are you even doing this? What is your main motivation? Define this and it will help you lift your restaurant, BnB or hotel marketing strategy to a whole new level.
Values are the key things you stand for. What do you aim to deliver through your services or products at all time, at all costs? For a hostel, this could be ‘creating a relaxed, family-style environment’ whereas for a high-class boutique hotel this might be ‘excellent service’ and ‘outstanding hygiene’. But read on, because… are those really your values
A bed & breakfast may aim for a certain distance between host and guest (or maybe no-distance-at-all), a home-style breakfast or something along those lines. If you are focused on ecology, giving back to the community, using reusable energy or anything like that, then those are of course also integrated in your values.
The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, said: “If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” So think carefully about this. What is it you stand for and what is it you aim to deliver to your guests?
To figure this out, you’re going to make a list of things that are important to your brand. But be selective: choosing standard values like “hygiene”, “good breakfast” or “excellent service” won’t help you stand out from the crowd in any significant way.
You can still write these values down – as a hospitality brand you probably should aim for hygiene and excellent service. But go a little further. Dig deeper and imagine the ideal version of your brand. Think of real and raw feelings that connect your guests to your brand. Values that truly matter to them and to your restaurant, hotel or bed and breakfast.
The Core – Who do we serve?
Who are you creating your experience for? This doesn’t have to be just one group of people, however, niches often work well.
An established target audience, buyer personas and customer journeys maps are essential in order to efficiently target and communicate your message. It's an important part of any Restaurant, BnB or Hotel Marketing Strategy.
Defining your target audience is not that easy. You might have an idea in mind but to truly get to know them, you have to ask yourself and them a whole lot of questions.
You can’t define your audience by sitting behind your desk. That’s not how it works.
One of the best tools to get to know your target audience is through the creation of buyer personas. Before we create a buyer persona, it’s important to understand what this really is.
Luckily, my friends at Hubspot managed to put a clear and short description together:
“A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.”
“Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. A detailed buyer persona will help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.” – Sam Kusinitz, Hubspot.
For a hospitality brand, buyer personas should be obligatory. Understanding your customer will help you in many different ways. It can be of great guidance to your staff’s behaviour on the floor, your menu items or room facilities, pricing and much more.
A buyer persona should contain information about many different aspects of your ideal customer. We’re not just talking demographics here. No, we need to dive deep.
Your buyer persona should be as detailed as the description you would give your best friend about your partner (your girl- or boyfriend, your wife or husband). You want to tell everything about them – and even more
A buyer persona goes beyond someone’s location or income. It should talk about someone’s motivations to buy, someone’s challenges, et cetera. If you really want to dive deep, then download our buyer persona guide. It was made for restaurants, but also works well for any BnB or Hotel Marketing Strategy.
The Core – What do we serve?
The next two assets in our BnB, restaurant or hotel Marketing Strategy, answer the question: what do we serve?
So, let’s say you have a bed & breakfast. It is famous for its “brekkie”. If you think your products are “Eggs Benedict for breakfast” and “delicious local coffee”, you’re wrong. Take the accumulation of all the things you offer and then step back. Observe where the listed items come from. High-quality food & beverage providers? Lots of F&B experience?
Let’s phrase your products different: you offer them wonderful cuisine. That’s more like it. But let’s go even further: you offer a delightful and satisfying escape from their ordinary breakfast routine. That sounds better.
Your products will always change over time. They should. As a hospitality brand you ought to adapt to trends. Right now avocado is all hip and happening, but in 5 years time it might be a new superfood. If you want to integrate that food-item into your menu, is up to you. But there will always be trends and innovations you need to adapt to. A new booking platform, social media channel, transport form. It can be anything.
That’s why it’s important for you to look at the products and service you offer in a broader way. You need to find the underlying motive. You could, for example, always offer ‘a variety of high quality, locally sourced food for each diet’. Or maybe you always want to have ‘organic, vegetarian food items on the menu’.
Unique Selling Point
But hey, there are more bed & breakfasts that know how to do their eggs Benedict and cafés serving the best local coffee. With purely these factors, you are not going to stand out. You need to have something unique in the current sphere of hospitality. Your USP, short for unique selling point, has to be something that’s evergreen, yet can be translated to small actions.
Sounds difficult? Let me give you an example for the bed & breakfast that offers a delightful and satisfying escape from their guest’s ordinary breakfast. What if their USP was: “We offer delight and satisfaction for our guests through well-arranged comfort and style, with a personal touch. We take away the hassle, stress and struggles of travel away from our guests so they can truly come to rest. On top of that, we provide perfectly organized local and customizable experiences. We are a home-away-from-home, but ten times better.”
So why is this a good and evergreen USP?
Because it doesn’t say exactly what they offer, yet it’s specific enough. They do say they offer comfort and style with a personal touch. And that they provide local and customizable experiences. And that they take away the hassle and stress that may come with planning a trip.
These are all good building blocks. Well-arranged comfort and style with a personal touch: this could mean the bed & breakfasts asks their guests beforehand what their favourite tea is. Upon arrival, the guests will find this tea provided in their room, with an accompanying package of cookies that go really well with that specific tea. And a little note to say hello.
Local and customizable experiences speak for themselves. The bed & breakfast can create a brochure, or put these on their website, and update them regularly. And then go the extra mile to reach out to their guests and offer customizations to the experiences based on the specific guest.
a restaurant in the neighbourhood offers cooking classes during the day. The bed & breakfast knows their guests are vegans. They can then reach out to the restaurant beforehand to see if the cooking class could be adjusted to this diet. If yes, the bed & breakfast may then offer the experience to their guests, putting a little extra focus on this customization of the experience. This will definitely be appreciated.
And then there is the take away the hassle and stress. The bed & breakfast can live up to this to make sure there are clear routes provided to get to the property. Put signs up in the neighbourhood. Or send a taxi to the airport/station if the guests are arriving by plane/train. Have recommendations for restaurants at night ready. Provide easy access to the internet. Have free amenities like a toothbrush and shampoo – so the guest won’t have to worry if he or she forgot about this. Same goes for towels.
And in the future, the bed & breakfast may adjust to technical innovations. Maybe they will have intelligent lights to wake the guest up in the morning, or bedsheets that adjust automatically to the guest’s body temperature (if this sounds to sci-fi to you… Well, welcome to the future. It’s happening).
As you can see, there is a lot to the USP. The worksheet provides you with more examples and some guidelines to discover yours. It has some questions that will help you not only to establish your own USPs, but also to make them truly unique. Because that’s something many brands struggle with.
In the example above, I took a an average bed & breakfast as an example. However, I hope you have something a bit more special to offer. Maybe you produce your own herbs, coffee, yoghurt – that’d make a great USP. Or maybe you only use reusable energy. All great things to inherit in your USP.
The USP doesn’t have to be just one sentence. I don’t know whoever came up with that stupid rule. But it also shouldn’t be longer than a short paragraph. If you need a full page to explain what makes you special, you’re not special.
The Core – How do we serve?
Okay, so you have your USP, your values, your purpose all jotted down. You know who you are, what you serve and to who you serve, but now it’s time to look at how you serve all of that. An incredibly important part of your restaurant, BnB or hotel marketing strategy. What is the message you want to communicate to your target audience?
You don’t want to bore them with ‘our solar panels are from brand [xxx] and produce an x-amount of energy per day’. These things are important for you and your staff to understand.
You and your staff should live up to your purpose, values and USP at all times. However, for your guests, you need to wrap up all the great things about yourself in a memorable message.
The message is where you craft a couple of messages that everyone should know about your brand. They should be easy to grasp and tell your brand’s story. Through consistent distribution, these messages are going to bring your brand to life for the guest. It’s important to create these key messages and then to get all of your staff to know them.
The messages need to be, as I said earlier, memorable and easy to understand. They shouldn’t be too detailed or difficult, they need to be conversational. They are basically your answers to questions like ‘who are you’ and ‘what do you do’, but in the way you’d explain it to your best friend – or 80-year old conservative grandma, if that’s more like your target audience. Because that’s who you need to have in mind: your preferred audience. That’s who you are talking to.
This is the most fun part of all the brand building blocks. And an essential one for every restaurant, BnB or hotel marketing strategy. This is where we are going to imagine your brand – your hotel, hostel or bed & breakfast – is an actual human being! YIEKS! What’s his or her name, what is he or she like? Is it a man or a woman? What does he like to do in his free time, how does he talk, who are his friends? It’s almost like creating a buyer persona – but this time, we’d have to call it a brand persona.
You may have never heard of it before and that’s because I think I just invented it.
Obviously many models out there cover lots of brand-personality aspects. And you can find tons of questions on the internet to set up your brand’s personality. But an actual brand persona? Why have I never heard of this before?
Okay, yes, there are probably already models for this out there. Frameworks, templates. Of course I’m not the first one who invented this.
Your brand’s personality is a set of emotional and associative characteristics connected to your brand. These characteristics shape how people feel about and interact with you. When you have established your brand’s personality in text and visuals, it becomes easier for yourself and your staff to communicate in a consistent voice. A voice that represents your brand the way you want it to.
Restaurant, BnB or Hotel Marketing Strategy
So there you have it. The 7 building blocks. The 7 pillars for any marketing strategy. If you are ready to really implement all of these, then I'd recommend you to get the PDF guide, which includes examples and assignments that guide you through the exact framework. It's one of the products I'm most proud of and you can get it right here. Please mind: this guide is only free until 04-10-10! After that, it's going to be a paid resource. Why? Because we all know what happens with free guides: they end up in a drawer. Useless.
Of course, if you bump into any roadblocks while working on your strategy, feel free to reach out.
Or: become a member of our Tremento Tribe. The Strategy, like any other template in our shop, is included in the membership.