Is Your Website Earning Its Keep?

We have reached the point where everyone believes that they need a website for their business to be successful.

Is your website putting money in your pocket or taking it out?

Unfortunately we haven’t reached the point where everyone understands that their website needs to work for them for their website to be successful.

A website in a majority of cases is the first impression your customer has of you.  I recently saw the following post on an RV Resort Facebook page:

Just a suggestion… We live in Las Vegas, NV; were planning a June-July trip back home with a stop (location removed) for a week. We were going to stay at (Resort #1), but decided on (Resort #2) instead, based SOLELY on website comparison. (Resort #1) website offers no photo gallery, no email contact if you want to just ask a question (only to get rate/reservation info). After filling out the rate form, it took 2 weeks for someone to call me (at 8 am on a Saturday; no recognition on time zone variations). I’m sure (Resort #1) is an excellent place, but you may get better results with some website improvements and better inquiry response. Thanks

As you can see, Resort #1’s website is definitely NOT working for them.  If you consider your website to be your employee, would you say that it is earning every penny you are paying it or would you say that it is time for a constructive performance review?

I bet that most of you would answer that it is time for a performance review, so here are a few of the items that I would rate the performance on.

1.)   How many customers does the website send to me?

  1. Number of emails requesting information
  2. Number of sales that can be attributed to an initial request through the website
  3. Number of callers that state they got contact information from the website.

2.)   Where do the majority of the website visitors come from?

  1. Are the locations within the areas where my customers come from?
  2. Are the website referring customers to me within my industry or are they coming from websites which are looking for things like keywords?
  3. Do they find the website through organic search, Referrals or direct?

3.)   What do I expect from the website?

  1. Increased website traffic?
  2. Increased sales?
  3. Customer contact?

The answers I would be looking for from each of these would then tell me if I need to start considering a total redesign of the website or if I can tweak the existing website to get a real ROI (return on investment) from the website.

In order for your website to work for you, you need to have schedule for reviewing your website and you need to merchandise your website just like you do your store.

Remember that this is your number one salesman and can impact your business in a positive way by bringing in more customers or it can result in a lost customer just like the one above.

How is your website performing?  Let’s take a look at it.

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How Do You Know if Your Marketing is Working?

I can’t tell you the number of businesses I have worked with who have only an inkling of how well their marketing efforts are working.  These businesses have spent thousands of dollars on a single ad and then depend on the ad rep telling them how well the ad is performing.

Stop throwing those marketing dollars away!

Does this sound familiar?  “Since we started running your ad six months ago, we have seen the click through rate go through the roof.  Your ad is doing fantastic!”

My question to you is: “How many dollars did that ad bring in?  Now divide the cost of the ad by the number of people who responded to it and find out what the cost per customer is for that particular ad.”

Don’t know how many customers the ad brought through the door?  Well, how about asking that ad rep how many unique users have clicked on your ad.  Do the same math.  Now at least you will know how much the ad has cost you just to get someone’s attention.

The real problem is that you aren’t generating any kind of regular reporting that will help define the effectiveness of any of your marketing efforts.

Here are a few reports that you should be able to generate automatically that will give you a better idea of where to spend your budget.

 

1.)   Customer Type

I can’t emphasize enough that thinking you know who your customer is doesn’t replace finding out through hard numbers who your customer is.  This report should divide customers up by age range, what part of the season do they show up, do they have families, etc.  

2.)   Customer Specific Contact

How did the customer learn about you?  Did they read that expensive ad you placed?  Did another customer refer you?  Did they find you through Social Media?

Your website analytics should help somewhat; however, I can’t say enough about making sure that your front line is recording the “How did you find us?” answer accurately.

A second thing that you can do is to create a unique landing page for any of your electronic advertising so that you can track how many of those click throughs are actually following through and spending money with you.

3.)   Customer Conversion Rate

It is a big mistake to assume that conversion rates are only for e-commerce websites.  If you aren’t converting the people that are reading your ad into customers, you are wasting your time and money.

Track how many customers are seeing your ad and how many of those customers are going further along your sales funnel.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to buy, only that they are going further along such as calling for information, emailing a request or even just viewing another page on your website.

4.)   Call to Action

Each and every one of your ads and all of your collateral material should have a CTA.  The beauty of having digital ads and collateral materials is that you can change that CTA to take advantage of what is working.

Review each and every CTA to make sure that your customer is responding to your ad.  The ones that are performing poorly need to be changed up.  The ones that are performing well should be left alone until they start not performing well.  (That’s an obvious one wouldn’t you say?)

5.)   Use the Numbers 

Now that you have the numbers and know who your customer is according to the numbers, go out and talk to your customer.  The best way to find out what is working and what isn’t after running all the reports is to make that personal contact.

One last caution for you.  We all know that numbers can lie.  Be very careful when you are selecting your criteria that you aren’t skewing the data to fit what you expect to find.  Go in with an open mind and you might be surprised what you learn.

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Loyalty is a Two Way Street

I have repeatedly seen businesses large and small ignore their existing customer base and market to the new customer. There is an age old adage that 80% of your business is going to come from 20% of your customers.

Loyalty is a Two Way Street

Don’t ignore rewarding your loyal customers when you are rewarding your new customers.

Do you ever put marketing campaigns together that look something like, “Stay with us for 3 nights and get 50% off of your first nights stay” or “Like our Facebook page and get 50% off,”

First time visitors are the target of these campaigns. But what about the person that has been coming to see you repeatedly and has already posted a Facebook “Like”?   What are you doing for that person?

Don’t get me wrong. I can understand why you would want to run a marketing campaign like this; I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t set up a campaign just for your existing clients. Why risk them feeling ignored and unappreciated?

It takes surprisingly little to change the perception from an underappreciated to a valued customer. Simple things like a thank you note when a repeat customer has returned, a note to say we have a special coming up just for our repeat customers, or a repeat customer’s event goes a long way towards making your customers feel special. And a customer that feels special will be a customer that spreads your Word of Mouth advertising, recommends you to their family and friends, and returns to your business repeatedly.

Rewarding loyalty doesn’t need to cost a lot and the benefits are huge. Need some more ideas?

  • Create a Loyalty Club that rewards your repeat customers. This needn’t be complex but you do need to make the reward valuable in the eyes of the customer. Give them a free night’s stay after they have stayed a predetermined number of nights with you. How about a seminar on handling normal repairs that is only available to your Loyalty Club?

Just make sure that whatever you offer, it is unique and special to the Loyalty Club and market it as such.

  • When a repeat guest checks in, recognize them at the front desk with a friendly hello and reward them with a free bundle of firewood, a free bag of ice, or no charge for the extra people for the first night.
  • Create a special forum for your repeat guests where they can stay in touch with each other when they aren’t in the park. As we all know, we love belonging to an elite club.
  • Have an end of year or start of the season weekend event and invite your repeat customers to join you. Have a BBQ, a Hawaiian luau, or a plain old picnic to thank them for being such loyal guests. This can be open to everyone in the park, just give the repeat guests special tickets so that they aren’t charged anything. Make those special tickets stand out from the rest by giving them a bright, vibrant color. Now people are going to be asking why the ticket is different from theirs, giving your repeat customers the perfect opportunity to spread the Word of Mouth about the Loyalty Club.
  • Send out holiday cards with a coupon for their next stay with you. Give them an extra 5% off of their stay.
  • Make your repeat visitors a part of your “Advisory Board.” The advisory board will help with things like deciding on new activities, colors for signs, marketing efforts, etc. They will be a part of your email list that you send surveys to on any issues that you need advice on.

Repeat guests are one of your best marketing programs. They will share your name with the people they work with, other family members and friends and neighbors giving you great Word of Mouth advertising.   They will also share the fact that you value their business and that you recognize that they have choices out there.

When the next conversation turns to the latest deal that the phone company is offering to new customers, your loyal visitor will likely mention that they received a special offer from your park because they had visited it often.

Rewarding your loyal guests shouldn’t cost a great deal and the return on that investment is going to be much larger than you expect. Plan your program out. Identify the rules for becoming a loyal guest member, create a calendar to schedule your mailings, and tweak your system until you find the right mix for your park.

What works for you in bringing people back after their first visit?

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5 Reasons You May Need to Consider Outsourcing

When you have a small business every dollar counts, which means that you do more with less than the corporation down the road. It also means that wearing that many hats prevent you from being truly effective at any of them.

5 Reasons You May Need to Consider Outsourcing

You aren’t qualified to do everything. Find people to help and watch your profits soar.

Some things can be outsourced rather easily. Things like housekeeping, bookkeeping and maintenance activities to name a few. Others take a lot more consideration before you hire someone.

The first thing to consider is what you truly enjoy doing. Is it the landscaping/gardening part of the job? How about the accounting efforts fro the business?

Whatever you truly enjoy you should probably keep doing yourself. Those items that require more knowledge than you have or more time and effort than you can give should be the first on your list for outsourcing.

Here are some things to consider:

1.)       You need a real strategy for increasing your business

 It is easy for the business to slow down without it being immediately noticed. Hiring a consultant for a short period of time and brainstorming how you can get more customers can be a smart move.

A consultant is going to bring fresh eyes to your situation and a good consultant will work with you to create a series of tactics that can be easily implemented. Until you find a way to change how your ideal guest views you and your business, your competition is going to remain strong and your marketing efforts are going to continue to stagnate.

2.)       You need fewer goals and objectives

 Goals and objectives need to be obtainable. If your goal is to be the best business out there, you have a goal that is going to be hard to reach. It is too broad and too lofty.

Goals and objectives need to be established with a smaller number identified in order to assure that they are attainable.

Look for the goal and objective that has the highest payoff and that can be reached with in a year, in three years and in five years. Next week isn’t on the timeline.

3.)       You aren’t qualified to do everything

 No one is able to do it all and do it effectively. Yes you can create your own website, write your own marketing plan and do your own taxes. The question becomes how professional is any of that going to be?

There is a reason that people specialize in distinct areas of business. It’s because specializing allows you to concentrate on all of the detail needed.

I can’t tell you how many ads I have seen that have cost a lot of money but don’t tell the reader where the business is located, or doesn’t give them a phone number to call.

When you try to do it all, you end up doing it all poorly. It costs you in time, in money and in your sanity

4.)      Your Focus is scattered

There are so many points to be touched on and delved into in order to run your business that you need someone accountable to cover the detail and keep you abreast of the changes.

If you spend all week working on the landscaping, you will know which areas need fertilizer, which trees need to be trimmed or which plants should be transplanted.

Of course to know all of that, you need to be working on the landscaping every day which means that you aren’t working on your marketing efforts or your research into the latest products for the store.

Start thinking of yourself as the CEO and let the workers (whether they are employees, consultants or interns) do their job.

Your job is to focus on the overall health of the company and make sure that those attainable goals and objectives are on their way to being realized.

5.)       You haven’t established metrics

 Unless you have established a way to tie metrics to each and every main part of your business, you are going to end another year not knowing if you are truly on the road to achieving all that you have set out to accomplish.

When you get started with your renewed enthusiasm for your business, make sure that you have measurable goals and objectives, review them frequently with your consultant and you will find that you are happier with where you are headed and with what you have done.

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12 Months of Marketing Resolutions

As we close out 2014 and look forward to 2015, we need to take a hard look at our marketing plan and see if we are on track or if we need to make changes.

12 Months of Marketing Resolutions for 2015

Make this the year that you take small bites out of your marketing resolutions.

January

Redesign the website. I have a serious “the cobbler has no shoes” problem. In case you haven’t heard of it, here is the definition. The cobbler is so busy making shoes for all of his customers that he doesn’t have time to make shoes for himself.

This month I am going to redesign my website to get it updated and more in line with what my customers are looking for.

While this is going to take a chunk out of my marketing budget, it is going to be worth it as I expect to see a big jump in traffic and, by default, in new clients.

February

Layout the schedule and create the emails for this year’s marketing campaigns.

The emails will consist of 140 characters. This will make it easy to schedule posts on Social Media.

The added benefit is that 140 characters will demand that the email is concise and to the point.

Create a spreadsheet for all advertising that shows cost and that tracks results.

March

Review the marketing plan for the second quarter 2015 and decide whether the plan is more of the same or if it can be spiced up.

So many of our marketing efforts remain the same year after year that they become boring and expected. It is time to change them up.

Add at least one new and different campaign to each quarter’s plans. Along with that new and different campaign is, of course, a means of measuring how successful it really is.

April

Tax time. Not a fun time of the year but it really gives insight to how successful last year was.

Once the taxes are done, review them to determine the ratio of expenditures and compare that to the budget. Make adjustments where needed and look harder at where the advertising dollars are going.

Compare this information to the first quarter plan to see how successful the plan was.

May

Summer is on its way. Along with adding to the wardrobe, add to the marketing materials that are the same as they have been for the past 4 years.

Add more fun things to the printed materials. Add a game to the brochure that is fun to play but also keeps my brand in front of potential customers minds.

Create printed materials that are fun to read.

June

Take the time to review the first six months of 2015.   Take a look at the demographics for the last six months.

Has the customer changed? Are my efforts to attract my future customer working? Is my future customer different than what I was expecting?

Create a drop file to keep ideas for future marketing campaigns.

July

Start looking at and planning for any trade shows that I want to attend.

Begin the decision making process by checking on the demographics that the show attracts, cost per potential new customer, expected return on the investment.

Review my trade show materials, display, and schedule both the application for the show and the travel arrangements.

August

Take a look at continuing education classes that will benefit my company, including any online classes.

Look for classes that will revitalize creativity as well as knowledge.

September

Become active in the local Chamber of Commerce and the state organizations.

Reach out to others and create a quarterly online meeting new ideas and approaches are discussed.

October

Create a rough draft of the marketing plan for 2016.

Review the tickler file for future campaigns and begin laying out the success requirements that the campaigns will have.

Do another analysis of who the current customer is and who the future customer will be.

November

Begin the review of the ROI for the 2014 marketing efforts.

Take a new look at the advertising spreadsheet and determine where the dollars are performing and where they are languishing. Schedule the cancellation for those advertising venues that are not giving a return on the investment.

December

Finalize the 2016 marketing plan.

Begin creating the 2016 email campaign content.

Create new content for the website.

Look back on the most successful marketing year to date and promise to make 2016 even better.

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Time for a Website Review!

So many times, our websites were the first thing that we did and after a short time, we moved on to working with our customers and pretty much forgot about the website. After all, we spent good money on getting it set up when we opened business, so we take the Ron Popeil mantra of “Set it and Forget it” and turn that into “Create it and Forget it.”

Time for a Website Review

If you want your website to work for you, you can’t “Create it and Forget it.”

The problem is that, like any of our marketing materials, after a while a website begins to look stale. I know because I have that exact problem. I had my website designed a few years ago and had a blog added to it about 9 months after the website went live. Since then, I have posted the blog fairly regularly but have done nothing with the rest of the website.

I recently took an honest look at the site and realized that while the site is the same, my client demographics are different. It’s time to redesign the website. If I had been reviewing my site on a regular basis, I would have realized this much sooner. Now my question is, “How many customers have I turned off because of my website?”

Here are my quarterly website review tasks that I have added to my calendar:

  • Check all the links on the website. One of the most frustrating things for any user is to run into a link that is bad. This is especially true if the name of the website isn’t obvious which means there isn’t an easy way to find the site.

 

Broken links are not unusual. People change the platforms their website operates on, the hosting companies they are using or other internet issues arise. Be sure to check all your links. Those in your headers, footers, sidebars, and in your content.

 

  • Test your drop down menus. This will make sure that your navigation for your website is going to work correctly and that all the tabs you have on your site are in place. Make sure you cover any and all menus.

 

  • Send yourself an email. If you have any type of contact form (reservation request, support request, information request) make sure you fill it out completely to ensure that it is working properly. Even more important is making sure that the emails are being delivered to the correct address. Shortly after my website went live, I discovered that the emails were going to an incorrect address which meant that I wasn’t answering my customer’s call.

 

  • Use all of your Social Media buttons. We all got on the bandwagon and added buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the entire myriad other Social Media sites out there, but the real question is, do they work? Does the Facebook button actually take you to your Facebook page?

 

  • Look at each of your pages and decide if they are still representing who you are. Using myself as an example again, I recently found that some of my blog posts were actually returning “Page Not Found” (aka 404) errors.

 

  • Check for technical errors. While your web designer should be doing this on a regular basis, it doesn’t hurt to have a second person checking. You will need to register your site with Google Webmaster Tool and then run the tests. While you may not understand everything the test is telling you, you will know if you need to get in touch with your web designer to correct maintenance issues.   This is essential to your SEO efforts.

 

  • If you also have a mobile site, you need to perform the same tasks there. While you are testing, pay close attention to how your site is operating. Does it require a lot of scrolling? Is it easy to read? Is it easy to navigate?

 

  • Schedule a regular review of your analytics. If you don’t have an analytic system set up, get it NOW!! Google Analytics is free and gives you some great insight into who is clicking on your site, where they are going, and how long they are staying there.

 

  • Make sure that you have your WebMaster Tools set up and check it on a regular basis. This will give you a lot of information but one of the most important ones is what pages are returning a Not Found 404 Error.

 

Now that you have reviewed your site for its functionality, made the changes you needed and corrected the errors you found, you are ready to check the rest of your marketing materials to make sure that they are doing their job.

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10 People You Need in Your Corner

I’ve written a lot about how to market your business, how to make things more efficient in your office and how to put together your policies and procedures manuals. These are all things that I write about from experience. I just realized that the one thing I haven’t told you about is how to build a network of invaluable contacts that will help you to succeed.

10 People You Need in Your Corner

Add these people to your corner to achieve success

While you are thinking of who you should get to fill these spots, be thinking of what you have to offer in exchange for their help. We all have our specialties, those things that get us excited about work.

Here is my list of must haves for my network:

1.) I don’t know what I would do without my Tech Support friends. They keep me sane when things are going haywire. I have someone that I can contact when I have problems with my website, someone for hardware problems, and someone for software problems. Don’t try to find one person to answer all of your questions. Rather find people who specialize in their area and can answer your questions in depth.

2.) An numbers person is a must. This is really different than the accountant that you send your files to once a quarter for filing taxes. This is a person who can give you a good idea of whether your idea is worth pursuing.

3.) A Marketing guru. This is the person that you can bounce your marketing ideas off of to see if you are wasting your time and money on a campaign. While experience in the industry is great, it isn’t necessarily required. Find someone who asks the right questions to get to the core of your issue and then has suggestions that make sense to you.

4.) Someone who is the Salesperson you wish you were. This isn’t the same person as the Marketing guru. Find that person that can sell anybody anything at any time. Learn all you can from them. How to close the deal is critical whether you are selling RV spaces or a million dollar RV.

5.) Everyone needs a “handy-person” that they can call when things fall apart. This is the person you talk to when you are considering a major expenditure for maintenance. Whether it is in your office, in the RV park or in your home, it helps to have someone who can tell you “yeah, that sounds right” or “they want how much for a simple job?”

When you go looking for these people to add to your network, don’t limit yourself to those close to home. In fact, distance can be a great advantage as you will get a broader view of what is being done elsewhere. The business person that I rely on for sales advice is actually located 1,000 miles away from me. I can count on him to tell me exactly where I went wrong with a potential client and what I need to do the next time.

My software support person has helped me move to the Cloud so that I don’t have to depend on being able to access my laptop. If you are still not sure about the Cloud, let me give you a quick reason for getting sure of it. I recently damaged the screen on my laptop. While I could still access my files, I couldn’t see what I was doing on the screen. Since I had moved to the Cloud, I could get to most of my files with my tablet while the laptop is in for repairs.

Take a look at the people in the groups you belong to on LinkedIn, Facebook or any other organization that you may belong to. Find the ones that you would like to have in your support network. Build your network with care and make sure that you reciprocate the help that you receive by recommending them and their business whenever you can as well as offering your expertise when they need it.

 

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Seven Tools To Look Into the Mirror With

There was a time not too long ago when you could only guess at what your image was among your potential customers. The Internet has changed a lot of that. Now, word of mouth has been transformed into words on the net. People don’t hesitate to write their opinions on forums, review sites, facebook and twitter.

Seven Tools to Look Into the Mirror With

Checking your online image should be a habit. Do it now!

The good news is that you can trace those opinions and determine what your image is on the web. It will take a bit of work on your part for the initial setup and then you need to schedule time on a weekly basis as a minimum to review the information. It would be better if you could do your reviews on a daily basis in order to stay on top of any negative information and respond in a positive way.

Before we get to the details, let’s talk about how to respond to bad reviews…and responding is a must. Once someone types your name into a comment, it will live for a long, long time. Your only hope to combat a bad impression is to respond, but you need to respond in such a way that you don’t start an internet war.

How many of you heard about the war of words between Steve Jobs and a college journalism student asking for a response to a problem she had with Apple’s PR department? After several emails back and forth, Jobs finally basically told the student to “Leave Us Alone.” To make a long story short, this all happened last fall and instead of dying down and disappearing, it is still out there on the web as a case study of what not to do.

When you respond, be sure that you stay positive, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and be as tactful as you can possibly be. Start off by acknowledging that the person had an issue with your park. Then begin stating your side of the story in a positive manner. Whatever you do, don’t give in to the impulse to say things like “Jerks like you…”, “Why are you such a Liar…” or “Dealing with idiots like you…” We have all been there but keep those thoughts in your mind and not on the keyboard.

To find out what your image is on the web, take the following steps:

  • Set up Google Alerts for your park name. While I am at it I also set up an alert for my competition. It never hurts to find out what people are saying about them.   Go to google.com/alerts to get started. Once you are set up, you will receive an email anytime Google picks up your specific keywords.
  • Check out the park review sites on a regular basis. RVparkreviews.com, www.rvbuddies.com, etc. for any comments regarding your park. If there is a particularly nasty review, email the webmaster asking if you can reply. There is currently a push to make review sites more responsive to posting the business answer. Whatever you do, don’t engage in posting bad reviews about the competition even if they have done it about you. This definitely won’t help your position or your image because you will be found out and then the world will know.
  • There are a number of programs that aggregate monitoring Social Media. Some are free but most are pay sites. I would suggest starting out with a free program until you determine what you want to see and how much information you need. Be sure to check on what the program covers
  • Facebook is more difficult to monitor than other programs. Facebook users are able to limit their openness to the rest of the world. That means that you will only be able to monitor those users who have opened up their pages to more than family and friends. When you sign in to Facebook, enter your business name into the search bar and look for results from all public profiles.
  • If you have a blog, you need to register with Technorati. Once you have registered, Technorati will track any blog reactions or blogs that link to you. While we are at it, make sure that your blog accepts comments from your readers. Once again, the information you can gather will be invaluable.

For Twitter, you have a wealth of sites that will gather information for you. FriendFeed will find all instances where your search words have been mentioned. You can use HooteSuite and TweetDeck for the same purpose. The last two have the added advantage of allowing you to schedule your tweets as well as a number of other features.

  • Do regular Google searches for your name. When you put the name into the search field use a quotation mark before and after the name. This will help to limit the number of references that are actually linked to the individual words in your name and will return results for your full name only.
  • Don’t forget to watch Workamper News forums to see what workampers are saying about working for you. Listen to the comments and use them as constructive criticism. It can be hard not to take the comments personally, but unless you look at the comments objectively you won’t be able to use the information to your advantage.

This list should at least get you started on determining what people are saying about you. Once you know what is being said, you can determine how you want to react. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to track what is being said about you on the web. The internet has become a way of life for us and it is only going to get more important to your guests as time goes on.

If this is overwhelming, don’t give up…give me a call. Let’s talk about what you need right now and what can wait till later.

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Like It Or Not, It’s Here to Stay

I’m sure by now everyone has heard about the new Apple iPhone 6 and all of its bells and whistles. But did you also pay attention to the announcement about Apple Pay?

Like it or Not, It's Here to Stay

Like it or not, accepting payment from a smartphone is here to stay.

The concept behind Apple Pay is not new. NFC (Near Field Communications) has been around for quite a while. What makes it worth noting is that Apple has linked it to their products and is marketing it in such a way as to make it attractive to us consumers.

The reason I am bringing this subject up is that I believe that the writing is on the wall. It won’t be long before your customers are going to expect to be able to pay using NFC. If you aren’t ready for that day, what is going to happen to your business?

We have all experienced going into a small Mom and Pop store to buy something only to find out that they don’t accept credit cards or out of state checks. That brings you to cash only purchase and you may not have had enough cash to cover the cost. While it makes for a great story, do you consider going back to that Mom and Pop store or do you make sure that you have everything you need before you get to that location?

I make sure that I don’t have to go back to that Mom and Pop store because, for me, it is an inconvenience. I expect the businesses I frequent to accept credit cards/debit cards.

So now, looking ahead, have you made any plans for accepting things like Apple Pay in the future? Have you talked to your credit card company about what this means? Even if you aren’t ready for NFC payments, have you considered using the credit card readers that attach to your phone or iPad for those purchases that a customer wants to make but you aren’t at the register?

I can see this technology being a great benefit for the RV park side of the house. Just think, you can send someone out with a load of firewood on the back of the cart and sell the wood right at the campsite without having to set up a large cash envelope for the worker.

You can accept Day Use payments in the driveway instead of making the customer come into the office.

You can set up reservations at the trade show or make seasonal sales.

Sounds good doesn’t it?

Here is the other side of the coin. If you haven’t kept up with technology, you are going to have a steep learning curve. You are going to need new equipment, new procedures and new training for your staff. If you start now you might be able to lay out your conversion plans and make this as painless as possible.

Put together a plan that answers the following:

  • What do you want to do?
  • Who is going to do it?
  • When are you going to convert?
  • Where are you going to use your new methodology?
  • How are you going to get the staff trained?
  • How much are you going to budget for the process?

When you are answering question #1, don’t limit yourself to one thing. Try to think ahead and plan for changes in the future.

Now that you have your plan laid out, start talking to your bank, your credit card processor and your customers to let them know what you have in the planning stage.

Finally, get ready to execute the plan. You are going to be miles ahead of your competition and it is going to show through customer appreciation.

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Joining the Social Media Frenzy

Everyone is talking about it, some people are doing it, you haven’t quite decided whether you want to jump in or not, so what is a business owner to do?

Joining the Social Media Frenzy

Social Media can be confusing if you don’t have a plan

It seems that Social Media is on everyone’s mind these days.  It is quickly reaching the point where you are expected to have a presence in Social Media if you are a modern, viable business.  If you have any guests in the 34 to 54 age range, they are already using Social Media as a part of their day to day lives.  If you have guests in the 55 and up range, you will be interested to know that this is the fastest growing population on Face Book.

There is no way around the fact that setting up your Social Media campaign is going to take some time and effort.  Maybe you even have someone who wants to take care of setting it up for you.  But before you say yes, take some time to decide what you really want and expect from running a SM campaign.

It’s easy enough to create accounts on the various sites.  The hard part is to present cohesive, well thought out campaign.  We have all seen the websites that are put up just to be able to say “We have a website” and the fact that it was done with very little planning leaves you with questions as to how trustworthy the business is.

Take some time out and answer these five questions before you jump in.

1.)  What is your objective?  Do you just want to stay in touch with your current guests?  Are you expecting to attract new guests?  Make a list of your goals and objectives.  Some may be quite doable while others may require so much time and effort to achieve that they aren’t reasonable at this time, but you will at least have a better idea of what you are looking to achieve.

2.)  Who is your audience?  Take a look at your demographics.  Are your guests overnight only?  Full timers?  Families?  Decide if you have different guest profiles depending on the season.  You may need to adjust your campaign to fit the season.  Clearly define who you are going to be talking to.

3.)  If your campaign is successful, what will your guests learn?  Maybe you want them to know of your plan to enlarge your laundry room, or that you are adding sites.  One thing you definitely want to impart is the personality of your park.  Just by virtue of being involved in SM, you are going to be viewed as a modern, up to date business.

4.)  What tactics are you going to utilize?  Now we get to the meat of the problem.  There are huge numbers of SM sites out there…YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to name just a few.  It’s time to take a look at each area and decide what each one can do for you.  I would suggest that you consider creating a blog that gets posted on a monthly basis.  If you are currently publishing a newsletter, you can easily use the articles from it to post to your blog.  From the blog you can post to your FaceBook page without having to do a lot more work.  From the FaceBook page you can post to Twitter telling everyone that you have a new Blog post.  And so you complete the circle, sending your followers back to learn more about your campground.

5.)  How are you going to measure your success?  This is going to be a fluid part of your whole campaign.  As you getter better with SM, you will probably find new ways to define your success or failure.  To start, look for visits to the blog, likes on FaceBook, and retweets on Twitter.

6.)  Is it really wise to turn over your SM Campaign to someone who doesn’t know you or the RV industry?  There are plenty of people out there who will be happy to give you a boilerplate campaign, but don’t expect it to look like anything except a boilerplate campaign.  If you decide to hire someone, ask them to tell you how they would approach the job.  If they don’t ask who your audience is or what your expectations are, chances are that you are going to be disappointed.
7.) Which site are you going to start with? The elephants in the room are Facebook and Twitter. The big thing to remember, though, is that they are very different elephants. Twitter is like passing someone in the hall and giving them a heads up on your way; Facebook is like sitting down in the break room and having a discussion with each other. Find out where your audience goes on Social Media before you decide which one to start with.
Now that you have a plan you are ready to begin laying out your identity on the various sites.  Remember that this is your brand.  You want to present yourself and your RV business in the best light.  Keep your campaign coordinated, and the look similar.  It won’t take long for people to recognize that they have seen something about you somewhere else.  And that is really the point, isn’t it?

Posted in Social Media, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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