It can be hard to convince vacationers to buy from you when you are offering a similar product to your competition,when you’ve attached a higher price tag.
But trying to beat competitors on price alone is a cut – throat business, risky, and attracts the bargain hunters and bottom-fishers always looking for a better deal.
Competing on price sends the wrong signals to your customer and is no way to build a brand (unless your brand is aimed at bottom-price seekers).
Few properties are the same, but many are similar. How you decide to position your property is crucial, and it needs careful thought.
Branding comes first.
A brand creates an image in the mind of your visitors. It says something is different about you (and your property), something worth more than business as usual.
If you’re seen as a commodity, your customers will choose you solely on the basis of price or getting something for free.
If you’ve got a brand, you’re selling a lifestyle – and it’s worth more.
Build a Brand
Building a brand doesn’t mean you need to get to be as well known as Macdonald’s or Apple.
A brand isn’t about a product or a service. Building a brand around a product is a trap, because it limits you to just talking about your product or service, which can, will, and already has been, copied by someone else.
Brands built around products or services are destined for obscurity.
Branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, it’s about getting your prospects to see you as someone who provides what they need and what they want (a quote by Robert Frankel).
Branding is about creating an identity and communicating it well.
Small businesses such as a holiday home rental shouldn’t be afraid of branding and think it’s only for big companies. The objectives that a good brand will achieve are as good for a rental owner as they are for MacDonalds.
Branding delivers your message clearly, it confirms your credibility, it connects your target prospects emotionally, it motivates a holidaymaker to buy and it cements loyalty.
When you’re thinking of your brand, some of the following strategies may be useful.
Sell your value, not your product. You’re not bricks and mortar, you’re an experience.
Turn perceived ‘weaknesses’ into strengths. In the same way Apple turned being lower than Microsoft in market share into the strength of being different, turn your small property into something ‘classically compact’ or your rather ugly property into something ‘spatially and visually compelling’ and so on.
Get emotional. Branding is a balance of marketing strategy and human emotion. Connect with your audience’s preferences, and passions.
Tell grand stories. Don’t just communicate what your brand is, create a bigger story in which your brand plays a part, as our brains retain stories.
Ben & Jerry’s ice cream are about two hippies who’ve maintained their values (making a high quality product and supporting social causes) but made money at the same time.
Yours could be renovating your property, a love affair with a special place, and so on.
Rob Frankel, a branding expert, calls branding the most misunderstood concept in all of marketing, even among professionals. Branding, he says, “is not advertising and it’s not marketing or PR. Branding happens before all of those: First you create the brand, then you raise awareness of it.”
And while many people think successful branding is only about awareness, it’s not, Frankel says. ‘Everyone knows about cancer but how many people actually want it?
Branding is about getting your prospects to perceive you as the only solution to their problem. Once you’re perceived as ‘the only,’ there’s no place else to go…which means your customers pay a premium for your brand’.
Your product or service is not your company’s brand and neither is your website or your business card. Your brand is the genuine ‘personality’ of your business.
This ‘identity’ is something you need to handle consistently – everywhere you advertise and communicate your holiday rental, including your own website, Facebook, Twitter, your email responses, telephone conversations with enquirers and guests, and any other communications, written or verbal.
Many will tell you: ‘find your USP (your ‘unique selling point’) but the bad news is that you probably haven’t got one, so stop agonizing over trying to find it.
Can you really come up with something that nobody else has, or can’t copy?
The only thing that is truly unique about your business is You. There is no one else like you and if you want to build a brand with a difference, start with you.
The best small brands are representations of the people who create them, not some elusive unique selling proposition. That’s how social media marketing works best.
Brands are about a promise and a personality. Make a promise that you can keep, and deliver it with personality. It can’t be about quality or honesty, because people expect that from you as a given.
Then inject some personality into your brand. Start by describing the personality of your rental. (Think adjectives.
How would visitors positively describe it? Regal? Cosy? Intimate? Subtley sophisticated? Calm and serene? and so on).
Now combine your promise and your personality. Make your brand promise and stick to it.