Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Handling a Negative Review

(1:02) Eventually every marina will experience a negative review. No matter how high your standards or how closely you adhere to them, occasional mistakes are made by every business. The issue isn't receiving a negative review; it's having a solid strategy for handling the situation when it happens.

(0:55) The first and most effective steps you can take to deflect a bad review are the ones made prior to its occurrence. Here are three steps to take now to reduce the impact of negative reviews coming in the future.

(0:50) First, make sure customer expectations are realistic. The most common reason for a negative review is not that the marina lacked a pool or a 5 star restaurant. Negative reviews happen when the customer's expectations do not match the services or quality found. Honestly present your strengths. Do not tout capabilities you cannot deliver. Price realistically. And ensure that what you do offer is clean, well-maintained, and matches the descriptions.

(0:36) Second, make sure satisfied customers speak out. There is no better way to reduce the impact of a negative review than to have it lost in a sea of positive ones. It is important that you actively encourage positive reviews from your happy customers. How? Ask. Many marinas feel funny about asking. But you shouldn't. Most people like to offer their opinions and are happy to support the businesses they like. Surrounding a lone negative review with honest positive ones makes the negative review disappear.

(0:16) Third, treat every customer well. You are in the service industry. You must provide good service if you want happy, returning customers. Be helpful and courteous. Go the extra step to make every boater feel like they are welcome. Arriving into a slip is one of the most terrifying parts of most boater's experience on the water. Make it feel safe and welcoming. It's hard to write something negative about a friend.

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

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Zero Moment of Fuel

(1:04) These past few weeks I have been revisiting Minutes based on the ebook Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT written by Jim Lecinski of Google. The ZMOT principles cover all aspects of consumer purchases. It's important that you not overlook any area of your marina business.

(0:56) The book explores how the internet has changed the way consumers search out and purchase goods and services. It should come as no surprise that the impact has been monumental. The world has changed in ways that make the old way of doing things obsolete. ZMOT has completely changed the rules. As I stated in the series:

(0:48) "To successfully navigate your customers' ZMOT, you need to understand what information they are looking for, and where and how they will find it. You no longer have the choice of simply presenting them the message you want them to hear. Consumers want real information, in real-time, whenever they want it. Provide them that and you can win."

(0:39) The good news is that I've witnessed huge changes in the ways marinas and boatyards are communicating information to existing and new customers. They are finding success by acknowledging and accommodating their customer's wishes. However, there is one area that I sometimes find marinas falling short and that is in providing accurate and up-to-date fuel pricing.

(0:30) Boater feedback to the ActiveCaptain Fuel Lists has been very positive. I continue to hear from boaters who love how easy it is to compare pricing and other features. They want quick and easy access to fuel pricing information and will use that to make their purchasing decisions. They don't want to call by phone to get fuel prices any longer. If your price isn't available, they'll go elsewhere. But some marinas are still in the old world of "I don't want my competitors to know my price."

(0:19) If you compete on fuel, your competitors already know your price and it didn't take the internet to get it. Be honest, don't you know your competitors' prices?

(0:15) Refusing to publish your pricing where your customers want to see it doesn't hurt your competition. It's only hurting your customers. And many today, if not most, will go elsewhere.

(0:10) I think Jim Lecinski says it best: "There are two heroes: the consumer who does the research, and the marketer who is smart enough to be there at the moment the shopper is looking for them."

(0:05) Make sure you're there when boaters are looking for you.

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ZMOT - An Example

(1:14) I'm willing to bet that each and every one of you have engaged in ZMOT in the recent past, if not today. It has become so commonplace that we probably don't even recognize it as a process.

(1:09) If you have read a consumer review before making a purchase, checked a review site to find a restaurant or hotel, or looked at a video while researching a workout, you have engaged in ZMOT. Rest assured that boaters are engaging in similar activities before selecting your marina. A typical scenario might go something like this.

(1:02) A boater attends a dockside party and overhears another boater talking about their recent trip to Savannah, Georgia. It sounds interesting and he's been looking for some new places to visit so he quizzes the boater a bit more, maybe even hears a few comments from others who have been there. The boater thinks maybe this would be a good destination for an upcoming cruise. Now begins his ZMOT.

(0:54) Maybe the first thing he does is a general search on Savannah. He turns up the City of Savannah home page, a Visitors Bureau site, and information on Wikipedia.

(0:49) He remembers a boater saying there are big tidal shifts there. So next he goes online to find information about the tide and current issues. He goes to the ActiveCaptain website for information. He checks out some anchorages and several marinas to see what other boaters have experienced. He also looks at any hazard markers to decide if he needs to play the tides.

(0:39) Finally he notices that one of the ActiveCaptain Partners is running a Co-Op special. He notes the marina has the amenities he's looking for and good boater ratings so he decides to call to make a reservation.

(0:33) This is the power of being available at a boater's ZMOT. By being there at the very moment the boater is thinking about buying, and also when he's thinking about thinking about buying, you can present the information he needs to make his decision at the precise moment he needs it. And with ZMOT that could be any time of the day or night. Plus research shows that the ZMOT often occurs well in advance of a purchase.

(0:21) Google and Shopper Sciences did a study looking at what they termed "dwell time," the amount of time consumers spent considering their purchase. They wanted to understand how far beforehand consumers started their ZMOT. They looked at three diverse categories. For technology and automotive purchases the biggest spike was 4-6 months before the consumer purchase. For something as simple as groceries they found a big spike 4-6 days before purchasing.

(0:07) I could only guess what this might be for boaters but it does tell me that customers are researching you well in advance of coming to your marina. Make sure you are there when they do.

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

ZMOT - A Thirst for Information

(0:54) I've established that consumers are increasingly turning to online sources to make their buying decisions during ZMOT. Jim Lecinski of Google outlines five factors that make up a Zero Moment of Truth:
  • It happens online.
  • It happens in real-time.
  • The consumers are in charge, pulling the information they want rather than having it pushed on them by others.
  • It's emotional. Consumers have a need they want to satisfy and an emotional investment in finding the best solution.
  • The conversation is multi-way: marketers, friends, strangers, websites, and experts all have their say and compete for attention.
(0:39) So how can you make sure boaters have the information they need about your marina at the moment they need it?

(0:35) I know that boaters are increasingly making their destination decisions during ZMOT. I not only see it in the exponential growth of reviews and updates for ActiveCaptain but I hear it every day in emails, online comments, and personal encounters with other boaters. They are using the wealth of information provided by ActiveCaptain and other sources to make their selections.

(0:26) A key component of ZMOT is the real-time, self-pursuing nature of the boater's search. To be successful you must be where the boater is searching, when they are searching. This is why it is important that you keep your information in the ActiveCaptain database accurate, complete, and up-to-date. It's easy to do.

(0:19) You simply need a free ActiveCaptain account. Please make your captain name and home port reflect that you are with the marina. For more detailed information about doing this and to learn about all the features and capabilities we offer marinas to stand out during ZMOT, check out the Marina's Guide in the Help Center:

(0:12) In today's new marketing reality, information presented too early is forgotten and information presented too late is, well, too late. Having information readily available when a boater is at the Zero Moment of Truth will ensure they will find you at the very moment they are making their buying decision. Make sure you are there with the information boaters need and you can win more business.

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

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ZMOT - The Exception is the Rule

(1:01) Consumers have always done research on products and services, whether it was chatting over the fence, going to the library to see Consumer Reports, or using a hotel, restaurant or other consumer guidebook. Zagat even sized their guides to fit in a pocketbook possibly making them one of the first mobile apps. The problem for most purchases however was quick, easy access. Finding good, recent information was the exception. But not anymore.

(0:51) Today there are virtually no barriers to accessing information about most anything - and we carry that access in our pockets. This allows consumers to create their own consumer guides every day as they read reviews, tweets, blogs, social network posts, videos, and more about products or services they are interested in. It is often during this moment of researching that decisions are made.

(0:41) Now when a boater is interested in cruising to Savannah they will typically begin by doing their own research for information and the research will typically be done online. They are no longer passive, they are active seekers of information and they expect to be satisfied. Kim Kadlec, worldwide vice president of Global Marketing Group for Johnson & Johnson describes it this way:

(0:32) "We're entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that's useful or helpful to their lives. The consumer is looking to satisfy their needs, and we have to be there to help them with that. To put it another way: How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?"

(0:23) You need to be ready for a boater's ZMOT 24/7. You need to help the boater find the information they seek that will lead them to your marina. The days of "call us for more information" are gone. You need to provide the critical information boaters want at the moment they want it because if you don't your competition will.

(0:13) The question to ask yourself is, are you ready for a boater who is at the Zero Moment of Truth?

(0:10) Make sure you are aware of how your marina is being presented during ZMOT. What do your potential customers see when they are doing their ZMOT research? Step back and take a look. In the next installment I'll look at things you can do to ensure they see what you want when they plan their cruises.

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