Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Joining the Internet Conversation

(1:04) Previous Minutes have talked about marinas following what is being said about them on the Internet. The next step is to join in on boaters conversations. But to be effective you need to carefully decide where and how to participate.

(0:56) The biggest mistake marinas make is to jump in without a plan. It is important to form a strategy and to ensure that everyone knows and understands it. Once you have determined how you want to position your marina and have listened so you understand how your marina is currently perceived, it is time to think about joining the conversation.

(0:46) Think of this as a party. You are the newcomer. Those already in the clique will be watching and evaluating your participation. You only get one opportunity to make a first impression. In general, it is critical that communication be relevant and noncommercial.

(0:38) How should you respond to messages? That depends on the message. If you are being praised or presented in a positive light, the first thing to do is to thank the site. This simple act can increase the goodwill and the likelihood of being mentioned positively again in the future. Consider linking to the site or including quotes on your website if this is allowed.

(0:28) If you find information that is incorrect, politely contact the website with the correct information. No site wants erroneous information. Never make demands of a site. It simply will not work and will place you in a poor light.

(0:20) A great way to get in on the conversation is to participate in one or more of the major boating forums. But first listen, observe, understand the dynamics, and learn the forum rules. Most forums have rules governing how commercial entities can participate.

(0:13) Think about the areas of expertise you and your employees possess. Then consider how this expertise can be offered to the forum putting the marina's name before boaters and creating goodwill.

(0:06) By becoming an active participant in Internet conversations you can attract new boaters and inform and maintain your current customers.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finding the Conversations

(0:57) Of course, I believe that ActiveCaptain reviews are a great way for a marina to find out what the boating community is saying about your marina. Make sure you read and respond to every review you receive. However, there are plenty of other places on the Internet where boaters are talking.

(0:45) So how do you find out who is talking about you? A good starting place is to discover how boaters are finding their way to your website.

(0:39) It is important to be running Google Analytics or some other statistics generating service on your website. Google Analytics is free and will allow you to track traffic to your website. It offers information such as the number of visits, pages viewed, etc. But it also allows you to see how users are finding your website.

(0:29) This information can provide some clues about how boaters are coming to your site. If they found it through a Google search, it will show what the search terms were. If it was a link from another website, it will show the referring site and page. This not only shows where boaters are finding you but also provides clues about the other sites your customers are using.

(0:17) Sites that are generating a lot of traffic for your website should be investigated to find out why. Is the message presented on the referring site accurate? If it's a positive reference from a boater, is there a way to thank them? Is there a way to create more positive referrals?

(0:07) Successfully leveraging the Internet is a cost effective way to increase your business. Make sure you know where potential customers are finding you.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Making the Most of a Positive Review

(1:02) It's great when a customer compliments your marina. An honest assessment from a happy customer is worth more than pages of glossy pictures and professionally written prose. It's what any good business strives for. Make sure you're getting everything you can out of these marketing gems. The best way is to have a plan. Here are four things you can do to maximize your positive reviews.

(0:50) 1. Say thank you. Make sure you always acknowledge a customer who has praised your marina. This simple act not only reinforces good feelings, it will make them more likely to visit again and to tell others.

(0:41) 2. Show your employees. Share positive reviews with your staff. Many marinas post glowing ActiveCaptain reviews on bulletin boards with a "way to go" message. If you are part of a large organization make sure management knows, especially if a staff member is called out in the review.

(0:33) 3. Show your customers. Let boaters know what the world thinks. Display positive comments on your website. Consider a testimonial section or simply display them on your home page. Reviews from the ActiveCaptain site can be displayed on another sites as long as the source is acknowledged to fulfill copyright requirements and a link is provided back to the site. It is best to provide a link directly back to your marker. There's no easier way to encourage additional reviews.

(0:19) 4. Discover how you can do better. While compliments certainly make everyone feel good, this is not the time to rest on your laurels. Even 5 star reviews will often have a mention of a disappointment or area that needs improvement. Sometimes a boater compliment can reveal a needed service. Was there an effort mentioned that was out of the ordinary? Consider making it part of your offerings.

(0:08) Customer reviews are telling you loud and clear what boaters want. Pay attention, learn from their comments, and use this knowledge to bring more boaters to your marina.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.