We love to focus on local small businesses in our area, as 60% or so of our business comes from this group. To accomplish this objective, every month or two we select one of our favorites to write about. We describe all the things we like about the business, and select several things we might change if we were the owners. We hope the owners consider these ideas prime customer insights on which to build their improvements on. Today our selection is the Inns of Aurora social media branding to improve their marketing effectiveness.
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Is your social media marketing doing very well, but you are still wondering whether you should be making changes for continuous improvement? Like improving the Inns of Aurora social media marketing?
We are good customers and advocates of the Inns of Aurora business and Wells College, the owners. And since this is a frequent question we receive from clients, we decided to use the Inns of Aurora as a case study on this subject.
Related details: 8 Secret Facebook Design Factors for Most Successful Marketing
To improve is to change; to perfect is to change often.
- Winston Churchill
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First, a word about the Inns of Aurora, for those of you not familiar with the Finger Lakes, Cayuga Lake, and the town of Aurora.
Originally named Aurora House, the Aurora Inn was built in 1833 by Colonel E. B. Morgan, a native of Aurora and an original investor in The New York Times. By the mid-19th century, Aurora became a major stop on the Erie Canal for boats carrying agricultural products from area farmers to New York City. Henry Wells, of Wells Fargo Stagecoach fame and the founder of American Express, established Wells College there in 1868.
During its colorful past, the Aurora Inn was a favored overnight destination for travelers borne by coach, canal boat, and rail. It has long been a popular gathering spot for students from Wells, Cornell University, and other nearby colleges.
In the early 1840s, William D. Eagles purchased the Inn and engaged his uncle John Eagles, a former sea captain, to manage it for him.
When a fire destroyed the main building at Wells College in 1888, many students lived temporarily at the Aurora Inn, which they renamed the Wayside Inn. Fire struck again on February 18, 1919, destroying Aurora’s tiny business district between the old post office and the Aurora Inn.
In 1943, the Inn was deeded to Wells College. Despite a series of additions, renovations and new managers, from the 1970s, the Inn faced financial struggles. A drain on the college’s resources, it was closed several times during the last three decades, most recently in October 2000.
Let me point out that the Inns of Aurora is not a client of ours. We are simply taking a look at their on-line social media marketing and using it to recommend ideas for continuous improvement. It is such a pertinent topic to many businesses, isn’t it? I will do this task by simply studying their on-line presence, with no discussion with them.
If you examine their current state of social media marketing and compare it to their competitors, you will probably conclude like we did, that they are doing a good job. But the point is about how to achieve continuous improvement, which is very critical in this type of ever changing marketing.
So let’s examine some ideas for the Inns of Aurora to consider:
Social media marketing effectiveness … creative ideas
There are several thoughts on the top of our creative ideas list. The first one we suggest is for the Inns to go local with their social media marketing. Perhaps not every Inn mind you, but certainly several Inns from this town going together in the effort. In this way, they can do a much better job of personalizing customer engagement.
The second idea for consideration is to pick an issue to stand for. For example, we have all read about the issue of supporting small businesses in small town America. Valuing their focus on regional small businesses (say, within a 100-mile radius, would go a long way to supporting their marketing in the region. They could do this with their content marketing on their website and social media channels.
Their leadership and every customer facing employee could be part of this engagement strategy.
Picking several employee examples for publicizing would be a good place to start. Certainly, but there is a chance they can create a local or maybe even a regional collaboration movement.
Bake failure and taking risks in actions
It is always good to have a culture of innovation and experimentation. Another excellent core value is “aim higher.” Encourage your staff to think big, set audacious goals, and push limits. And it’s OK to fail. Within the marketing org, we recommend sharing “fast fails” on a weekly basis to help everyone learn from mistakes.
The Inns of Aurora are doing a very good job in this area already. But they can do more with special topics such as the history of the region, the Cayuga wine trail, and point out future tourism trends, just to name three examples.
Customer engagement is an area where most businesses could always use fresh ideas. One suggestion we have used with other clients is to have employees doing other jobs give an hour or two a day to participate in social media. Let customers know who they are and that way customers can engage with people they recognize from the Inns. Remember the recommendation to go local with their effort? Here is a great place for it to come in very handy.
Social media branding … lots of experimentation
Most businesses take the conservative route on experimenting with new ideas. Not a good idea if you are looking to get ahead with new tourists as well as returning regulars.
The best innovative companies know that to do new things well, they must be good at trying new ideas in many areas as experiments. These experiments, they realize, will not all work as planned, and a high percentage will fail.
They know and accept this without worry. But they know that they learn a great deal from failures and small successes. And this often leads to great successes down the line.
Social media branding examples … continuous discrimination
A business can never be done with finding ways to discriminate themselves with their customers. This is an area that absolutely must be done well.
A great way to find discriminating ideas, both big and small, is to pay attention to what customers are telling you. And remember, not all customer insights come from verbal inputs. Get all employees involved in closely observing what customers are doing. What can you learn about improving your operations from these observations?
Customer service and experience
One of the most rapidly growing areas of marketing these days is coming from customer service and strong customer experience. By going the extra mile in these two areas, customers take notice. The more little things you can do, the stronger the customer advocacy becomes.
For example, when you save your customer time, deliver quality service, stand tall on customer issues, and always show your value, you build trust. And trust is the basis of great customer relationships and follow-on business. A definite win-win. Lots of additional ways the Inns of Aurora could improve their performance in this critical area.
Social media branding strategy … new channels
The Inns of Aurora have a very well designed website and participates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter social media platforms. Well represented on these most important channels.
Our recommendation is they add Pinterest and Youtube to their list of social media sites. These are very fast growing social media channels that attract tourists looking for new places to visit for weekend getaways. Both channels would provide customers the opportunity to share their experiences with pictures and videos while visiting the Inns picturesque environment.
Upcoming marketing trends
There are thousands of new apps and tools for every aspect of digital marketing in the last few years. With so many apps available, the staff needs guidance on what apps will make a real difference in their workflows. I have lots of vendors reaching out to me on a regular basis, and I think that’ll only increase. I’m hoping to see more creativity in how these companies market interactive content, insights-driven storytelling, and more granular targeting.
Look for compelling stories that are relevant and relatable to your target audience. Knowing your audience is key— analyze user data, conduct surveys and focus groups, purchase analyst research, and more.
Storytelling is a little less formulaic, and there are lots to learn from customers
The bottom line
There can never be enough focus on continuous improvement in social media marketing, independent of how well the business is doing. If you are looking to take your success to a new level, this continuous improvement is required. This is an excellent time to make a statement with social media marketing. Changing before you have to is always a good idea.
Would you like to participate in a free evaluation of your business marketing where our output is published in our blog like this Publix article? If you are interested, please send us an email to Mike@digitalsparkmarketing.com.
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Test. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
Are you devoting enough energy improving your marketing, branding, and advertising?
Do you have a lesson about making your marketing strategy better you can share with this community? Have any questions or comments to add in the section below?
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
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