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Marketing is a tricky business with no straightforward solutions on what’s best for whom. This act of promoting a service is something that most everyone has an opinion on, yet rarely do two people see eye to eye with regards to what’s the best approach. Some may be convinced that in-your-face, flashy advertising on TV is the only way to go. Others see a more conservative, conventional approach as the best alternative. Others still are partial to the idea of networking. And even others believe a hands-off, laissez-faire approach is sufficient. So, who’s right in this scuffle for a monopoly on all things marketing?

To put it simply: nobody. In fact, flexibility between all these options is probably the preferred method. What works in one scenario may not hold true in another. Adaptability is a must. So is creativity. Train yourself to think out-of-the-box. Brainstorm ways to brand your inn—ideas your competitors haven’t tested yet. Even if it seems somewhat bizarre or slightly quirky, it could just give you that edge on rival inns.

One idea that almost certainly will be useful in getting the word out about your bed and breakfast in the community is through the community. It will take some initiative, but it could ultimately prove to be an invaluable resource.

Start out with, say, the school district. Call up the superintendent (if you’re unsure of who this is in your community, a speedy Google search can tell you with precision). Ask if the district presents an award to the teacher-of-the-year. More often than not, school districts do have such honors. Tell the superintendent that on behalf of your bed and breakfast, you want to present a complimentary weekend stay at your guest house to the winner.

Doing so serves a myriad of purposes. It brands your lodging. It gets the word out. It allows you to take part in contributing to the community and builds relationships with community members. Additionally, the future impact can have unlimited potential. The winner of the award will undoubtedly share her experience at the bed and breakfast with many. Others will approach her and ask about the overall experience at the inn.

You might invite the presenter to provide the weekend stay certificate alongside the award at the ceremony. That way, everyone in attendance will not only hear about your bed and breakfast, but also see that you care about the community. Moreover, if the event gets any press coverage, doubtless the complimentary stay at your bed and breakfast will be mentioned. This is, in essence, free advertising (other than the cost of the room for a couple of nights). However, with so many long-term channels of communication that will eventually stem out from your donation, this small contribution will invariably launch you forward in the long run as news and information about your inn flows throughout the community.

This same scenario can be applied in a variety of settings. Perhaps there is an influential company nearby your property: a hospital, a factory, a big-business, etc. You might call up the HR manager and ask about employee-of-the-year awards. Or talk to someone on your city council. Is there a citizen-of-the-year award or something similar? Use your creativity. Expand your horizons.

Consider branching out to neighboring communities, as well as your own. Increase your circle of influence beyond your own backyard. Be imaginative.

Go ahead; try it out. Why not boost your inn’s image and make a difference to somebody in the community who deserves it? You can feel good about your donation and simultaneously gain more business to your bed and breakfast than ever before.