I truly believe that your marketing plan is the most important piece of any bed and breakfast business plan. You can’t complete your cash flow estimates without knowing what your budget is for getting the word out about your bed and breakfast; and you won’t have cash flow if people don’t know your b and b exists!
So what is a marketing plan?
It can be extremely detailed with multiple goals and objectives and different people responsible for each of the components, or it can be a document that helps you capture all your ideas and research about how you are going to get the word out that your b&b is open for business.
No matter how detailed and complex your marketing plan is, there are basic steps that you need to cover in your plan:
- Who is your target market? What do the people look like that you want coming to stay at your bed and breakfast? What do they want? (For example, people need a bed and breakfast, but they want a private bathroom, specific type of bed size, flexibility with check-in times, etc.)
- What sets you apart from your competition? What do you offer that will make the people you are targeting want to stay with you? What are you doing differently than your competition? This is called your value proposition. The easier it is to explain, the better it will be for your business.
- How are you going to reach the people you are targeting? What motivates them to look for accommodations in your area? Where do they look for that information? (This will give you some ideas about what type of medium to use.)
Create your marketing message by:
- Focusing on what the problem is that they need to solve (i.e. somewhere nice to stay) and why your bed and breakfast is the best place to solve their problem (because you offer __________ which no other b and b in the area does)
- Plus additional benefits from staying at your B&B (other things you offer)
- Testimonials from other people who have stayed at your bed and breakfast
- Cost, policies, etc.
Choose your marketing medium.
For a bed and breakfast business plan, the tools you need to use are fairly limited:
- Web site – that includes pictures, directory listings, etc.
- Social media sites
- Print materials to distribute. (To know where people are picking up your brochures, you can write a code somewhere on the document that corresponds to each location you put them in.)
- In addition, it is key to build good will – don’t overlook donations to local fundraisers to get the word out (it doesn’t have to be a free night stay – it could be as simple as a dozen of the baked good you serve); memberships in local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, and take a good look at what your local DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) offers.
Set goals for marketing and the related sales.
This is an important part of your marketing plan, because it will help you determine (in the longer term) what medium brings you the best return for your money.
Develop your budget.
This is one area where you do not want to skimp on the budget. As I have said many times before, you can have the most comfortable beds and the best breakfast going, but if people don’t know about it, then it’s not going to do you any good.
A marketing plan is the most crucial component of your bed and breakfast business plan. It will be a tool that will help you determine how much you need to budget as well as to measure how successful the mediums you are utilizing are used by each of your target niches. If you need more help, don’t hesitate to contact The B&B Coach.