The Quest To Uncover The “Gold Standard”
I was on the phone with an owner of a San Diego vacation rental.
We discussed the benefits of crafting an effective ‘about us’ message and how it could help him.
He understood that it’s an important cornerstone to his vacation rental marketing.
He asked me to send him the “Gold Standard” of an ‘about us’ page, so he could reference it when creating his own.
So, I went searching for him, and while there are many owners who’ve created good content for their ‘about us’ page (and I give those of you who have a big praise) I have not seen one I would describe as the “Gold Standard.”
That’s why we will dissect a famous brand that kills it with its branding!
I’ll highlight specific techniques you can take away from them and use in your vacation rental marketing.
I’ve drafted a framework to help you formulate an impressive owner page by asking yourself the questions that will make you dig deep and pull out your buried marketing potential.
Let’s get started!
WHOOO – R – U?
Who are you? Inquiring minds want to know!
Much like the curious caterpillar who had a smokestack of questions when he first saw Alice, your guests are initially curious and full of questions about you!
So I’ll ask you again… WHOOO R U?
Being forthcoming with information and letting customers know about you upfront (before booking) will help them to trust you, making bookings a whole lot easier.
Your content can create an emotionally connected bond, and that’s tough for a competitor to break through.
To achieve this, you’ll need to open up and be transparent with your guests so they won’t have to wonder about you.
Customers are looking for clues on who you are. Tell them exactly what you want them to know or they’ll come to their own conclusions.
Don’t let them make assumptions about things that should be crystal clear or worse, be wooed by a competitor who successfully connects with them and knocks them off their feet.
You’ve got to give them insight into who is behind the brand!
Provide customers with information that helps them attach themselves to your brand in a way your property just can’t.
How do we get that to happen?
Think Papa Johns! He’s a great example of a brand ambassador that vacation rental businesses, both big and small, can learn something from.
Just like Papa John, you are part of your branding. Actually, let’s flip that – your brand is a reflection of you. Take a look at your branding. Do you like what you see in the mirror?
As owners, we tend to focus all of our attention on promoting the property with very little effort on selling ourselves as a benefit.
You have to consider the customer’s selection process, like an interview, and the traveler as the boss.
Leaving your profile area blank is like not showing up for the interview.
We’ve got to step out from behind the curtain and be the face of our company, much like Papa John is for his pizza business.
Just like a job interview, you have to sell yourself as being the best candidate for the job.
This can be a little awkward for some to speak about themselves in a way they may feel is braggadocious.
Your goal here is to convey a tone of confidence – never cockiness. Your customers need to trust you. If they don’t (and I mean, right away), then you’ve failed in a critical area.
If you don’t let renters know of the great product and service you offer, who are you expecting to do that for you?
As a host, it is your job to persuade people to give you the booking.
Q. How do we persuade?
A. Through effective communication.
To put you on the same wavelength as guests, you have to start by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Now that the table is turned begin to ask yourself some questions.
What do you want outsiders looking in to know about you?
More importantly, what do you think they want and need to know about you?
They need to know you care. And that you have integrity and will take care of them and always do the right thing.
They’ll need to know that if something does happen in the process, you have the competence to handle it.
While we’re focusing on you here, the objective is to draw out information about you that’s most important for your guest.
Now, begin to draft a few sentences that answer these questions and cover their unspoken concerns.
Marketing is boring! Your story makes your marketing messages interesting and easier to grasp.
Stories are primal. Since the beginning of time before TV, the internet, telephones, and electronic devices, storytelling was how we communicated.
Strong stories draw people in and keep those within earshot intrigued while tieing customers to you and your brand.
So, tell a better story than your competitors and watch how more people come to sit by your fire!
Every Story Has A Beginning
How did you get involved in the vacation rental industry?
Once upon a time…
Whether yours is a love story where you fell in love with Mexico and took the plunge to buy a piece of paradise or a historical one in which your vacation rental has been passed down through the family for years – people want to hear your story!
A Brand Powered By Passion
Passion translates into energy, and energy can move people.
Passion is what you’ll need to energize your audience with a sense of commitment and desire for what you do.
Who doesn’t want to work with someone passionate about what they’re doing?
It’s admirable and deserving of respect and approval.
Why did you buy your vacation home?
What do you enjoy about being a host?
What is it that keeps you in this business?
Be genuine when answering these questions, and sprinkle your answers in your ‘about us’ message. More on this later…
Your Experience Improves Their Experience!
What experience do you have?
If you have a professional background, mention that.
If you’ve been doing this for a while, tell them how long. Don’t expect people just to know things!
Tell people about it if you’ve earned awards, accolades, or honorable mentions – they’ll validate your service claims.
If you’re new to the vacation rental industry, you’ll want to bring out past work experience that will bring value to your vacation rental guests today.
Oh yes…and travel also counts as experience!
How will your experience help travelers?
Remember that it’s about the guest and how your experience will help them enjoy a better experience.
Be Different. What’s Unique About You?
“We’re more than a pizza company; we’re a pizza family.”
This is Papa John’s tagline, which they use to separate their business from just another “pizza company.”
What makes you different? Is it your process, an area of expertise, your attention to detail, your outstanding employees, the culture of your company, or something else?
Being different definitely helps, but how does your uniqueness make you a better option than the rest? And to bring it home – Why should travelers care, and what will they miss out on if they don’t book with you?
What are you great at?
What are your strengths? Is it customer service, a personal experience, listening, answering requests quickly or knowing the area better than anyone else?
Keep focused on yourself. This is about you, not the property- unless you’re the interior designer or architect.
Why does your business exist?
Every business needs a reason for its existence. If your reason exists to pay the bills or make you money, then we’re approaching our vacation rental marketing from the wrong place.
While making money is a necessity for every business, we need to look beyond our selfish needs and look to how our business can help people.
What’s your mission?
What is it that you wish to accomplish with each guest?
What do you look to achieve in your business overall? Think- big picture.
Sum It Up With Your Slogan
Papa Johns’s has branded itself with a clear and concise slogan that helps make its product stand out immediately.
Whether you like their pizza or not, you can’t deny their branding and marketing isn’t cheesy.
“Better Ingredients, Better Pizza!”
There’s a lot being told to customers with just those four words. It’s brief but comprehensive.
A slogan like this is short and can easily fit into an area in your owner pages.
Develop your own slogan- people remember them.
Slogans are a branding technique that quickly delivers the essence of your company in a nutshell.
What Are Your Service Standards?
Highlighting your service standards is what I call “fortune-telling.” It’s a way for travelers to look into the future.
Sharing your brand’s standards will help to define what a customer can expect.
It also reminds management and employees of the challenge and obligations they face in being accountable for these standards. I break this down further with clear examples of brand standards being put into practice later in this article.
Promises, Guarantees, and Commitments –
Travelers need to be assured that you are what you say you are.
A guarantee can lower the resistance and help to give the green light for a traveler to book with you.
They make people feel safe and feel there isn’t anything to lose.
It helps to remove the fear of making a bad decision.
There are several ways to use a promise, guarantee, or commitment in your advertising.
When you #bookdirect with us, each reservation is guaranteed.
We are committed to providing high-quality value for less.
If you experience any issues on your vacation, we promise to do our best to make it right. We care about your vacation!
These are general examples. There are many ways you can use these fear busters to create confidence. In the example I share, I point out a subtle way one brand infused them into their brand messaging.
If Your Brand Only Had A Heart
What does your brand stand for?
People don’t generally care about how big you are or how much revenue your company makes, but they do care about how you make the world a better place.
What do you contribute to the world? What do you support?
Maybe you’re an eco-friendly vacation rental, support the military, only use all-natural cleaning products, or support a charity.
You should choose a cause!
Actions speak louder than words. You can tell people you’re a “good” brand but here, it’s all about your actions.
What does your company actually do to help people and the world?
Being socially supportive of meaningful causes creates a “superhero brand” that in the eyes of your customer is fighting to right the wrongs of the world.
Who doesn’t want their money to go to the good guys who are doing a great work?
If products are similar, a cause can be the weight that tips the scales in the favor of the brand that represents goodwill.
By demonstrating this goodwill, you’re setting the example of what a business should do.
Your choice to serve people other than yourself makes competing businesses that do not share these same values appear self-serving.
It communicates values. Show that your brand has a heart. This is a powerful way to get people to latch onto your business and support what you’re doing.
I’m using Papa Johns, as an example because I think there’s a lot that can be garnered from their seemingly simple, but super sensational ‘about us’ page. Let’s take a peek at what they’re doing so well.
Below I have highlighted a few focal points in their ‘about us’ copy. I’ve color-coded them with a breakdown of the intent behind their copywriting.
Red – In the red highlighted area, they are creating trust through honesty. They’re being transparent about their beginnings. “They started in a broom closet.” This shows success in the current light of their achievements. It also gives them the appearance of being that underdog who everyone wants to root for. They’re also bringing to light their years of experience in the business “Back in 1984.”
Yellow – He “sold his beloved muscle car to buy pizza equipment”- now that’s passion! He sacrificed something he cared about to do something for himself and more importantly, other people.
It shows the love for the game he wanted to be in!
Green – In this area, they are promoting their experience with “over the years.” They again tap into their message of loving what they do and their mission to create a better pizza for everyone. You can also read in between the lines and see how their experience helped them to make informed choices to make a better pizza for their customers.
Blue – Brand standards – They’re differentiating their brand with unique selling propositions. They chop their vegetables by hand every day. They invest in fresh ingredients. This points to them embracing brand standards of quality.
They’re describing their process, which is different than other companies, and they sell their brand standards of delivering great food and high-quality ingredients.
The next area is about their vegetables and toppings. It shows that they hold service standards of providing value to their customers “we pile them on high.” It sends messages like – we aren’t cheap, we are giving and we aren’t just about the money.
Let’s look at the following message “never frozen, original dough.”
The words “never frozen” act similarly to a guarantee. The customer can be guaranteed a fresh product that’s never frozen. The words “original dough” point out that their pizza is unique to their brand- it’s something you won’t get anywhere else.
Purple – They show that they care about people and their employees with these words “Our best ingredients are our people.”
Here they bring to the forefront “the nature of our brand.” They support the cause of inclusion and diversity. Why? Because they are a family – again tying in their brand messaging.
Customers should be able to get to know you through the content you create.
Your property is only half of the deal. Tell people about you and your brand and elevate your business to a new level!