Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Generate More Reviews

(1:15) No matter how good your ratings are, every savvy business needs a strategy for generating more reviews. The basic goals should be twofold, increase the sheer number of reviews and constantly generate new reviews.

(1:09) Having a large number of reviews accomplishes two things. First, they minimize and even negate the effect of an occasional negative review. Every business will eventually receive a negative review. It also lends more credibility to your positive reviews. Let's face it, see one great review and you think “It could be their mother,” but see 10, 20, or more and you think, “Wow, this must be a great place.”

(0:59) It is also important to have reviews that are fresh so boaters know that your are still a topnotch marina. New reviews will tend to hold more weight. So while having a history of positive reviews certainly bodes well, if you do not have relatively current ones, boaters may wonder if you are still maintaining your high standards.

(0:50) So what's the best strategy for getting more positive reviews? Simple. Ask.

(0:48) This suggestion makes some uncomfortable. It shouldn’t. A boater who has had a good experience is often happy to help out businesses they like. The reality is you only need a small percentage of boaters to write positive reviews to have a big impact.

(0:40) Make sure you are capturing the low hanging fruit. Do you have long term or repeat customers that you've developed a good relationship with? Tell them you are developing your online presence and ask them to write a review. You may be surprised how many are willing to help out a business they respect and like.

(0:30) If you've had an interaction that was significant, a large maintenance project, an employee who went above and beyond, for example, ask if the boater was satisfied and would be willing to write a review.

(0:25) Of course, anytime a boater sings your praises, thank him, and remind him to write a review. Make it easy and you'll be more likely to get a positive response.

(0:18) Your Welcome Packet should include a message from management letting boaters know you strive to provide a positive experience. Provide a phone number or email that will be responded to, so if a problem does arise it can be resolved prior to them writing a review. Explain to them that your business depends on the word of mouth of happy customers and tell them you hope they will leave a review.

(0:05) There is absolutely nothing more important to your continued success than positives reviews. Don't leave it to chance.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Powerful Example

(1:11) Amazingly, we've occasionally received over-the-air TV from Miami, FL while anchored in the Exumas, Bahamas. If you have followed my Minutes, you know I love real world examples of points I'm trying to make.

(1:05) As we caught up on events, I was struck by an ad for Phoenix University that was being run repeatedly. If you are outside the US or don't usually watch TV, I would imagine you can find it on YouTube.

(1:00) The ad used the well known song from The Wizard of Oz, "If I Only Had a Brain", with a change-up on the words. It was a terrific use of a familiar tune combined with an interesting female voice. I literally can't get it out of my head.

(0:53) The reason I bring it up here is that I think they did a masterful job of finding and presenting how Phoenix University is different.

(0:49) There is no question that online education will continue into the future, but like all dramatic changes in paradigms, it needs to prove its worth. Rightly or wrongly, online degrees are still seen as second best. I've no doubt that Phoenix University is struggling with that. How do you compete with traditional brick and mortar universities? You don't, you figure out how you are different.

(0:37) Wisely, they realized the key is convincing potential employers of the worth of their graduates. Remember, these are not silver-spooned kids attending school on their parents' dime.

(0:32) So the ad focuses on what is different about the Phoenix University students verses students attending a traditional university. They show a variety of vignettes of hardworking students juggling jobs, kids, and other responsibilities, while working on their degree.

(0:24) To me the message was that these people bring so much more than just a degree. They bring hard work, determination, life experience - the things that can not be taught. In fact, I believe the final line is: "A degree's, a degree, you're going to want someone like me. That's if you've got a brain."

(0:16) It was targeted. It was hard hitting. And it was believable. I found myself thinking, I'd rather hire that waitress grabbing some study time than a fresh-faced graduate.

(0:11) They set out to show potential employers how their students are different in a way that is better. They convinced me and I bet they convinced others as well.

(0:06) The lesson, find out what makes you different from your competition and present it in a unique and memorable way. Use that difference to drive more business to your marina.

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Discount Wisely

(1:07) Properly setting your pricing structure is a critical part of your marketing and sales strategy. Pricing too high will reduce, and possibly eliminate, your value to potential customers. Pricing too low can be equally damaging.

(1:00) Setting your price too low, or indiscriminately discounting, will send the wrong message to your target customers and may attract the wrong segment for your marina. In addition, it will reduce available revenues for maintenance and improvements which can lead you down a terribly slippery slope.

(0:50) It is easy for the naive marketer to rush to a price reduction when he needs to increase business. Don't get me wrong, well thought out discounts, as part of a larger marketing plan, can be very powerful.

(0:43) Unfortunately, discounts are too often knee-jerk reactions to lagging business. And they are often done without understanding why boaters are not choosing your marina. Hint, price may have nothing to do with it.

(0:38) So your first step is to know who is your target customer and to understand those customers' needs. Then fill in and enhance your offerings to better meet those needs. Set your pricing structure to create compelling value for those customers. Finally, discount wisely to fill in slack times, attract new customers who fit your target profile, and encourage boater behavior that enhances your marketing plan.

(0:25) An easy example is weekly and monthly pricing. A great way to tell boaters that you are a destination worthy of a longer stay is to offer attractive weekly and monthly rates while keeping your daily rate stable.

(0:19) Make sure you do not become a One Hit Wonder. One of the biggest dangers of deep and indiscriminate discounts is attracting boaters who's sole criteria is a low price. Using a discount to bring a boater in once is not a good use of resources.

(0:12) The ideal discount will attract new boaters to your marina that meet the criteria for your target market. These are the boaters who will then be attracted to the value that you bring, even when your prices are not discounted. Bringing boaters back is where you will find real success.

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

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Provide an Experience

(1:11) It's your birthday, anniversary, or some other special event in your life. You decide to celebrate by going out for a nice dinner. You know you're going to spend a lot of money but it's a special occasion.

(1:05) Now imagine that the meal was nutritious and satisfied your hunger but was rather bland and uninteresting. The server was obtrusive or neglectful. The setting was plain and the chairs uncomfortable.

(0:59) One could argue that you got what you paid for, a meal that satisfied your nutritional needs. I would argue that you would come away dissatisfied and might well write a bad review of the restaurant. I can even see you writing, "We had a bad experience and will not return."

(0:51) We purchase products and services because of what they do for us and the experience they create. Further, when we make the purchase, we have an expectation of what that experience will be. Meet that expectation and I am satisfied. Fall short and I am unhappy. Exceed and you've create the world's best salesperson.

(0:41) It is critical that you understand the experience that boaters are expecting when they come into your marina. Then be able to position your marina to deliver that experience.

(0:35) Take time to think about the whole experience of a boater coming to your marina. Move beyond the specific attributes - docks, a certain approach depth, laundry, etc. - and think about what those attributes deliver to the boater. How does a boater feel? What desires are you satisfying? What do they really want? You need to get into the boater's shoes.

(0:23) Read reviews, both yours and those of other marinas. Find out what boaters compliment and complain about. Listen carefully when a boater comes in to complain and understand why they are unhappy. It's only when you understand the why that you can finally fix or mitigate the problem.

(0:13) Find new desires that are not being met. Discover how to meet the desire, improve the experience and then promote that to your potential customers.

(0:08) If you can understand your service in terms of the experience it provides to the boater, then you can work to improve and promote that experience. And that will mean more business.

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Stop Whining

(1:08) Maybe you don't have a pool or floating docks or a city with nightlife nearby, or some other desirable feature at your marina. I've heard marina owners and managers use this as an excuse why they don't have better reviews, happier customers, and more success. I say, stop whining.

(0:58) Stop complaining about what you don't have and focus on making the most of what you do have! That is what will lead to more success.

(0:54) I was reminded of this by an email I received from a boater friend. He was reminiscing about the wonderful time we had at Great Harbour Cay Marina in the Berry Islands, Bahamas. He was responding to the Minute I did on Finding Yes. He wrote:

(0:45) "Your GHC pizza story got me thinking about what Hans accomplished last year. He, and of course the staff, managed to turn some older concrete docks, four people, three small bathrooms, and a handful of old wooden picnic tables into a destination resort!"

(0:37) He couldn't be more correct. Hans and his staff took what they had and made it the best it could be - better then most people would have been able to imagine. And there's an even better upside.

(0:30) Their success in 2015 gave them increased revenues. So Hans used those revenues to add enhancements. They now have a beautiful gazebo with lovely tables and seating, and a bakery/deli on site. For 2016 there's a waiting list to get in. And they continue to look for ways to make their marina better.

(0:20) Are you making the most of what your marina has to offer? There are often simple, inexpensive things you can do to improve what you have. A smiling, friendly, and helpful staff comes to mind. Your docks may be old but are they well maintained. There may not be funds for upscale bathrooms but keeping them clean is more important.

(0:09) So before you complain about the amenities you wish you had, turn a critical eye to what you do have and make sure it is the best possible. This can bring you more business which can give you the funds to make improvements for the future.

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