Whether it's your website, your business page on Facebook, or your airbnb vacation rental listing - nailing your digital presence could mean the difference between business, or lack thereof. No matter the channel, successful digital marketing most always stems from identifying your target client and marketing to their pain points. Therefore, perfecting your vacation rental profile means knowing your ideal guest, understanding their needs, and positioning your rental as the best solution.
In addition to being the solution to your guests vacation needs, you must also cut through the clutter of ALL the other listings, and provide an authentic, positive and memorable guest experience before your guests even step foot in your home. To make things even more interesting, this all has to happen within the confines of your listing site. To do this well can be challenging. However, given the current travel market, the drive for authentic experiences, and the surge of shared-economies - I deem this a challenge worth pursuing. If you are reading this, I'd say you do, too. To make this challenge a bit more manageable, here are a few tips to consider when perfecting your vacation rental profile:
Don't Over-Promise and Under-Deliver
When making large ticket purchases on the internet, such as a vacation, convincing your consumers to trust you is one of the biggest hurdles. One of the best ways to grow trust is though social proof, meaning - guest reviews. Now, the quickest way to get yourself a bad review is by not being upfront or honest about your offerings. To avoid this, definitely do not over-promise and under-deliver, and don't leave out important information that would change the guest experience.
That said, there are ways to be honest without selling yourself short. For example: if your house is a block from the beach, do not list it as "oceanfront." However, be sure to let your guests know just how quickly they can walk to public beach access. If your loft is in the middle of a busy, downtown district, I wouldn't say "city noise is a problem." But I certainly would say something like "located in a lively, urban area," so guests know what to expect.
Market to Your Ideal Guests
If your property is an ultra sleek bachelor pad in the nightclub district, I probably would not describe it as "family-friendly." If your property is a yurt on an organic goat farm, I wouldn't recommend marketing to business travelers. These examples are extreme, but you get my drift. Often times we are afraid to define a niche because we don't want to "miss out," however I assure you there are plenty of business travelers, just as there are plenty of families looking for rentals. If we can identify and market to our ideal client, we end up offering a much more positive guest experience. This leads to better reviews and more business.
There you have it, folks - a few tips to help perfect your vacation rental profile. Oh, and one last piece of advice - don't forget to block out a few weekends for your own enjoyment before your listing calendar fills up! If you need any assistance putting these tips into action, email me - I love this stuff.
Have you ever had an idea that you know is a great one, but when it comes time to execute – fear takes over and you wish you had never thought of said idea, because now you actually have to put yourself out there? Yeah… me too.
This blog post happens to be one of those ideas. In fact, if I am being honest, my work as an entrepreneur is chock full of one frightening idea after another. One thing I have learned in the first year of running my own business is that putting yourself out there is terrifying. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. (In many cases, all signs point to the exact opposite. More on that later.)
It was not until the responses began to arrive that I was able to settle back in to a place of self-assurance. The lessons shared by this powerful group of women are sincere, relatable and sage. Fear had no business in the conversation. These women are not playing small. Here’s what they had to say.
What is a standout lesson you have learned as a female entrepreneur, and how has it shaped or shifted the path of your business?
Jaclyn Gallo, owner of Ritual Art of Wellness opening this fall in Cape Elizabeth, has this to say: "Progress isn't always linear and success doesn't necessarily mean you're moving forward. As a female entrepreneur I have had to figure out how to navigate being the primary caregiver for my family, honor a pregnancy, birth and postpartum journey with the time it requires, and most importantly show up for all of these things and people… while running a business.
The ebb and flow of my family and life means that sometimes I am abundantly energetic and full of creativity and other times, I don't have anything left to give. This has led me towards what I like to call a Yin Business Model. A more feminine approach to business has allowed me the freedom to decline opportunities which don't align with my highest priorities."
Full-time Yoga Teacher and Co-owner of Maine Yoga School, Margo Rosingana, responds: "No matter how many blogs, articles or newsletters I read about being an entrepreneur, nothing comes close the direct experience you get through trial and error. I realized that I have to figure out what works and dive in fully. I've made so many mistakes in launching Maine Yoga School, but each time I mess up or a post falls flat, I learn something new about myself and what I have to offer. It inspires me to be even more clear about my message and to fully get behind my mission. Through this refinement I find I'm more willing to take risks."
"I've also learned how important it is to work with actual human beings. I tend to be fiercely independent, thinking that I can do this work alone. I now realize how important it is to seek out guidance and support from other women who have the skills that I need."
Brand Strategist and Photographer, Elle Darcy, writes: "The biggest lesson I have taken away in the years of owning my own business is how very important it is to have clear, laser-focused niche. When I first started out (and I see this all the time with my clients) is that I was marketing to and working for any and everyone because I was nervous to not have steady income or steady clients. Ironically, the more I narrowed down and became really clear about who I would best serve, what I actually wanted to do, who I wanted to connect and create with, and who would most benefit from my services - my business grew exponentially. I’m a firm believer that you can’t stand out if you are too spread out, so I would say to any female entrepreneur: get super clear about who you are, what you want do, and most importantly, who it is that you serve — because it’s the fastest way to shine a bright light on your business!"
Caitlin Hathaway, co-owner of TULA studios in South Portland, shares: "I started to write this 100 times, and each time, I started over because it wasn't the 'perfect' lesson that I have learned.
And that, in itself, is the lesson. Nothing is perfect. We don't have the answers to all the questions. We do the best we can, with the best intentions. We show up for ourselves, for our friends, our students, our community. Each day, we take one step further. There is no finish line; no ultimate goal. We celebrate each small success; we learn from each small failure. We hold each other up in support, encouragement, and in being there for each other. There is no perfect answer for anything.
When I started out, I had a clear vision of who I was and what I wanted to do - and two years later, from each success and failure, I've shifted my path into an entirely new definition of what defines 'success'. My standout lesson, is to celebrate the small wins (yours and your people's) and to follow what serves you, and shed the layers of the things that, either aren't working out, or just aren't your thing. We have no boundaries except for the ones we create ourselves."
There is a new way of doing business. Consumers are becoming intolerant to slimy sales tactics, personal data trading, and click-bait messaging. Instead, a call for transparency, connection and mindfulness is changing the way companies compete in today’s marketplace.
Mindful Marketing. What is it, and why should we pay attention?
To say we live in an information era is an understatement. The access we have to information has transitioned from exciting and useful to downright over the top. From our own personal data, to fake news, to social media addictions – we are forced to be hyper aware of the way we conduct ourselves online; or we chance putting ourselves, or others, at risk.
As business owners it is our duty to act intelligently and responsibly when it comes to the information we own and share. Our consumers want to know they can trust us, we are not exploiting them, and most of all – that we are real people behind the screen, and we care. There are many ways we can be mindful when marketing our business.
Here are a few tactics I find particularly relevant:
Instagram is a powerful marketing tool. According to Hubspot, approximately 80% of all Instagram users follow a business. Furthermore, Sprout Social reports “at least 30% of Instagram users have purchased a product they first discovered on Instagram.” Naturally, you want to be one of those businesses, amirite?!
That said, creating an on-brand, intentional and cohesive Instagram feed is not quite as simple as it may initially seem. If you have tried to make this happen for your business, you know just how difficult it can be.
If you are ready to step up your ‘gram game, you will definitely appreciate my five must-have Instagram apps for killer content creation:
It is important to note that I am not nearly influential enough (yet) to actually promote these apps – so, this is not an #ad. However, I do find them to be super helpful, and hopefully you do too! At the end of the day, “winning” on social media is truly all about sharing original, engaging and high-quality content. Being social and building relationships is your best strategy, and no gimmick or fancy app will ever compete with authenticity.
I am calling it now - 2019 is going to be a year of epic collaborations.
It seems to me, the most successful entrepreneurs I know are pushing right past fear of competition and, instead, choosing to work alongside like-minded brands and businesses.
So, I'm just going to say it: If you have a total brand-crush on someone, it's time to make the first move. Start by taking some time to think strategically about how you could work together, create a proposal (or at least write your ideas down), then reach out!
Still feeling those giddy nerves reminiscent of a high school romance? Let's break it down so you feel a bit more sure of yourself.
2. The Ability To Do More: As entrepreneurs and small business owners, we are often only one person (or a small team). That means, unless you have found a way to add more hours in the day… you can only do so much. However, when you collaborate, your bandwidth increases, making it possible to do more in less time! That being said, a word to the wise - be sure to outline in advance who is responsible for what within the collaboration to avoid confusion or frustration down the line.
3. Brand Strength: Working with a strong business like your own can help to validate each of you and position you both as experts within your industry. Clients will feel confident in knowing that another legitimate business thinks you are good enough to partner with.
4. Leads + Referrals: Ultimately the goal is to grow your business. With expanded reach and increased brand strength, you should see your leads and referrals rise as a direct result of your collaboration.
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – a rising tide raises all ships. Do your best, support other entrepreneurs just trying to do their best, be nice, and learn from one other. If you are interested in ways to co-market your business and build your community, reach out! I am always happy to help brainstorm or make connections.
A few years back I sat front row at a tourism conference with Samantha Brown as the keynote speaker. She was, of course, captivating as she shared stories of her endless travels. Her vivid depictions of unique experiences in far-off places could convince even the most devoted homebody to drop everything, grab their passport and just go.
Not only is Samantha Brown a fierce storyteller, she is also an advocate for Project Time Off, an organization dedicated to encouraging Americans to actually use their vacation days. According to the organizations website, more than half of all Americans leave unused vacation time on the table each year. Project Time Off is on a mission to reverse this trend. The organization firmly believes more travel will boost the overall economy, and that taking a vacation may improve an individual's mental health, happiness and job satisfaction.
If there is a mission I can get behind - it is THIS. I may be a marketer, but vacation planning is my avocation.
As a new business owner (with no such thing as paid time off) and a new mom ('nuff said), taking a vacation could certainly be looked at as a luxury I cannot (or should not) afford at this point in my life. Welp - good thing I am not really all that interested in adhering to societal views of what I should or should not be doing. In other words - I refuse to stop traveling. It's too good for my business, and yours. Here's why:
I have said this before, and I will say it again: Travel gives me perspective. This does not mean that I must visit a third world country to realize my problems are small. It is actually not about comparison at all. It is about stepping out of my bubble and seeing what it's like out there in the world. Through a travelers lens, I start to see my "normal" a bit differently. When I return home, I do not un-see or un-feel what I experienced outside my comfort zone. Instead, I incorporate this perspective into my daily living, my decision making, and my interactions. It impacts who I am as a person, and a professional.
A street I have never walked before, the smell of a new city, the taste of another culture's cuisine, the sun setting over a faraway shore. To put it simply - travel lights me up. Nothing stirs my creativity quite like travel. There is so much to see, such inspiration to uncover, so many connections yet to be made. When I sit at home in front of my computer I am brought to life by the people I have met, the visions and experiences I have encountered across the globe. They pour through my fingers as I type, they impact my style as a creator and a writer. They are a part of me in every sense, including my work.
If you are new to the #digitalmarketing game, you may hear marketers refer to an Editorial Calendar. If you are wondering what the heck that is and why people keep talking about it when discussing your marketing strategy – keep reading. This blog is for you.
If you read last month’s post, you know how much I love a good plan. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to you that I find great value in editorial calendars. In short, an editorial calendar is essentially a master plan for your content. Your content is organized in calendar form and planned in advance. The result of this effort has many amazing benefits. Here are my top three benefits to using an editorial calendar:
For example: (We've all done this) When you post on your business social media page "just because you haven't posted in awhile and need to post something today." but you really have nothing relevant to say - sound familiar? When we do this, content can quickly become scattered and serve no real purpose. This is not effective in achieving long-term business goals.
Who wants to spend a whole bunch of time on content that doesn’t actually serve any type of purpose?
No one. That's who.
2. An Editorial Calendar Keeps Your Content Organized
With a little bit of planning you can organize your content into categories. Categories are defined by your marketing goals and action points (I realize this requires a bit more explanation – but that’s a whole other blog post). What is important to note is - defining your content categories helps ensure that your content is relevant to your goals, and that you are sending consistent messaging about your brand and business to your audience. An editorial calendar is helpful in this endeavor because you can visually see your content spread out to cover ALL your goals over a time period. This way, you don’t keep hammering the same point home and missing all the others, or focusing on one goal and losing sight of the rest.
For example: Not all your posts should be a sales pitch. Not all your posts should be promoting an upcoming event. Your audience will get sick of hearing about it and lose interest in you all together (ouch).
Once more - your calendar should be comprised of alternating content categories to ensure ALL your goals are getting equal love throughout the month.
3. An Editorial Calendar Helps You Get the MOST out of One Piece of Content
So, there you have it! My top three benefits to using an editorial calendar. At this point - I think it is pretty clear I’m really into using Editorial Calendars, and I definitely think you should be, too.
If you need a hand getting started – contact me, I love this stuff.
If there is one thing that I know about events, it is this: They never go as planned. For someone as plan-obsessed as me, you can imagine the horror. In an effort to keep things as on-track as possible and maintain my cool when the unexpected occurs, there are five things I always do when planning an event:
1. Create a PLAN
Call it a Banquet Event Order (BEO), call it a timeline, call it a checklist, call it whatever you'd like; just make sure you do it! This is your living, breathing document that contains every single bit of your plan: the WHO, the WHEN, and the HOW for your event. Share it with everyone involved, update it as details evolve throughout the event planning process, and be sure to have a copy of your PLAN with you on the day of your event.
2. Exchange Digits
No, I don't mean with the cute bartender (ok, well yes, actually you'll need his or her number, but not for that). I mean with every single vendor involved in your event. Make sure you have their best day-of contact number, and be sure they have yours. That way, when the band is running late, the linens don't show up and the bartender cannot find a place to park and unload - you can get in touch with your contacts and figure out a solution.
4. Bring Your "Oh Shit Kit"
Scissors, tape, clear nail polish (trust me), band-aids, a cellphone charger, a lighter, snacks, a water bottle, a pair of flats, a paper copy of your PLAN... the list goes on. Never, I repeat, never go to an event without your Oh Shit Kit, and you'll never be stuck at an event saying "oh shit."
First of all, tell us how you started LYFE and what your vision for your company is.
As a child I was always passionate about Wellness, but I took a serious leap into that world in 2008, when I started having severe anxiety. My doctor’s first reaction was to medicate me, and though I understand that many people need medication in order to deal with their mental wellness, that course of action did not resonate with me. I started researching, and discovered an energy healer near my town and she changed my life. I dove headfirst into the world of healing through alternative modalities - breath work, energy work, nutrition and movement – and eventually came out the other end of it a lot stronger. After my undergrad, which was journalism, I landed a job in social media and here I fell in love with this incredible tool that, when used for positive outcomes, can be life altering. So when my understanding for this tool began to merge with my passion for wellness and helping others I knew it was time to create a company that does both. My future vision for LYFE is help clients reach their full potential, while also providing a trusted source for those seeking recommendations for practitioners in the wellness space. A fully integrated experience where I utilize my expertise, curiosity, and my own journey to wellness to deliver personalized experiences that showcase the heart and vision of my clients. It's two fold in the sense that I want to help wellness practitioners reach more clients, and for the clients to be able to get the holistic help they need. As LYFE continues to grow, we’ll be creating additional marketing exposure for clients on the Wellness Collective, a searchable hub of vetted members in the wellness sector. This will allow wellness seekers to discover vetted members of, and practitioners in, the LYFE community, and will introduce brands with co-collaborators in respective industries. It’s one more way for clients to help raise their brand’s profile while providing a needed service to those who are looking to connect with wellness practitioners.
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned from starting your own business?
Nothing will ever be perfect, and you need to trust your own intuition and guidance. If you let the opinion of everyone else guide you, the business ultimately wont be yours, will it? Some people will love what you do, and others will not. And that’s ok! What I find has become more and more important to me is authenticity and honesty. Looking at what others are doing will only confuse you and make you more insecure, because there is only ONE you. What you offer, no one else can. And I feel in the wellness industry we need more healers, because there is so much work to do. To me, there is no such thing as competition, only collaboration. If everyone would put their ego aside the world would be a better place.
When working with wellness brands that want to put more of a focus on marketing their business through social media – what do you see as the biggest challenge for these businesses? How do you help them to overcome this challenge?
I find social media and wellness to be perfect complements to each other. Social media is such a strong visual tool, and the wellness industry is ripe with beautiful things to photograph: vibrantly colored foods, beautiful personal care products, nature, crystals, props and inspiring objects. I love the creativity that the two embody—stepping out of the box to heal others, or to market a client to their full potential. The challenges I've faced with my clients is they don´t quite understand how this can help them attract clients. Building a following and getting engagement takes time, especially when you do it organically, which why I always tell them to be patient and trust me.
My favorite part about working with my clients is seeing results—and watching them see the results. Whether we’re growing your social media following organically and creating a brand that’s top-of-mind to consumers or watching someone have a “Holy Sh!t! This is actually working!” moment when they see improvements in their health, there is nothing so satisfying as experiencing joy right alongside clients when they’re moving in the right direction. Success to me is when they see the shift.
What are your top three tips for a wellness business looking to grow their online presence?
I need to get out of the city from time to time, and I make that a priority. Connecting with nature and shutting my phone of is the best thing for my over all wellbeing. I meditate and move every single day, even the days I don´t feel like it. Just by moving my body for 10 minutes followed by breath work, I immediately feel better, especially days where I am under a lot of stress. I also practice to actually listening to my body and being in whatever emotion comes up instead of trying to ignore it. There is a reason for this emotion, if I keep rejecting it, it will only come back more intense. So on the days where I have negative emotions I stop what I am doing and I sit. I feel. I listen. Whatever comes up during those moment of silence gets to come up. This release method has been so clearing and cleansing for me I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner. Which is why I am focusing a lot on anxiety and depression in the holistic part of LYFE. I curate every single program based on my own experiences, and what worked for me. It took me 10 years to figure out by body, mind and spirit – and it was hard work. But I know I went through it for a reason, because now I can help others. And to me, that is also self-care. Because you also help yourself through helping others.
I swear a lot. I have to remind myself when I am teaching yoga to use words like "seat" instead of "ass" and "challenges" instead of "bullshit." I eat meat, I love wine (anything with bubbles), I worry too much, and I can't get enough of the Kardashian's. This does not necessarily paint the most perfect image of me, so... why am I telling you this?
Because it makes me a real person.
Now don't get me wrong - I am also hyper-organized, motivated, intelligent and well-spoken. I have excellent customer service skills, I can manage myself in front of a crowd, perform under pressure, and teach a heck (hell) of a yoga class. But if that was all I told you about me, would you relate?
Here's the thing - there is SO much NOISE out there today. By noise I mean marketing and advertising. We are constantly being sold to, marketed to, fed content and click-baited. That being said, pause for a moment and think about what you actually choose to click on and engage with.
If I had to guess, it is highly likely you choose to dive deeper into topics you feel passionate about, news that affects you or your community, articles that help you improve a skill or teach you something that you can apply to your work or daily life, and probably also a few vice clicks as well - sports, celebrity gossip columns, etc. I can only assume you do not like to be tricked into clicking on something, only to find out you have been led somewhere entirely different.
My point? You click on things you CONNECT with. If I am a representation of my brand, and I want to connect with you, then I have to share a bit of my story with you. I have to be transparent or you probably won't trust me. This does not mean that I have to tell you my deepest, darkest secrets. It does not mean I have to tell you what I have for breakfast everyday. I can still maintain a level of privacy, professionalism, and clarity with my content while sharing a piece of what makes me and my business unique.
When your brand can set itself apart from others by being authentic and honest yet still very clear with your messaging and mission - THIS is what will separate you from the noise. From there, the people who are a good fit for your business and your services will connect with you and likely stay loyal because they trust you. Need help figuring out how you can do this with your brand? Let me know, I am happy to help!
I am a marketing professional with a passion for wellness and well-run events.