The No B.S. Guide: How to Market Your RV Park Online
Today I’m going to reveal my no BS approach to how you can market your RV park online.
This topic is a doozy, so grab a tasty beverage, sit down and buckle up as we dive into areas that SEO companies and website developers are afraid to tell you about.
This is a long article, but make sure you read it all the way to the end, because understanding what I’m about to share with you can dramatically increase your revenue, your profits, and the level of satisfaction you experience with your RV park…
I want to put money in your pocket, and doing what I’m about to tell you is one of the most effective ways to do that.
(Note: throughout this article I refer to RV park tenants as RV park guests, because we really should be treating them liked valued guests, right?)
Your Website Doesn’t Matter (Until RV Owners Find It)
One of the biggest misconceptions that RV park owners and managers have is that once they build a website, people will start showing up.
Sadly, this is not the case, and can lead to a lot of disappointment.
In fact, one of the biggest disappointments I see MHP and RV park owners experience is what happens after they pay a fancy designer a bunch of money to build a website for them. Here’s how it usually goes:
- You know you need a website for your RV park.
- You find some local designer or someone contact you or you decide to build the site yourself using a template you find online.
- You launch the site with high expectations
And, then here’s what happens…
Because a lot of small to medium sized business owners are under the mistaken impression that all you need to succeed is a website.
Unfortunately, that’s a myth that has been perpetuated by website designers who want to sell you a website.
Unless they also provide the other services necessary to make sure your new website is found, they often leave out the required components that actually get you more customers (in this case RV park guests).
Now, let’s dispel the “I only need a website” myth and instead consider how potential RV park guests end up on your site in the real world.
Truth: RV Owners Don’t Start Out On Your Web Site (Unless You Tell Them To Over the Phone)
When one of your potential RV park guests start looking for a RV park where they can rent the space, they don’t start out on your website.
If you think about it, this just makes sense.
How would a potential RV guests know your website address and how would they know to start there? You’re right! They wouldn’t know.
So, what do they do?
To answer this question let’s think about what you do when you’re looking for something online.
RV Owners Are Like You – What Do You Do When You Want to Find Something Online?
To answer this question, think about how you search for products or services or a hotel or an RV website when you’re searching the Internet.
My guess is you start with either an RV park directory, Google, YouTube, or some other site.
And what you do is type in some combination of keywords regarding RV parks in the location where you want to go. For example, let’s say you want to find an RV park in Ocala Florida. You open up your web browser on your computer or your phone., You navigate to Google. Then you type in something like “RV parks in Ocala Florida.”
What happens next?
Google returns a list of search results.
Now if you’re like most people, you start clicking on the links that are on the first page that comes up. Chances are, you don’t bother to go to page two or page three or anywhere else. You just start clicking on links on the first page, right?
Ah Ha! RV Owners Search the Internet Just Like You Do
If that’s how you search for an RV park online (or for anything else for that matter), what makes you think that your potential RV park guests are any different?
You’re right. They aren’t different. They search just like you do.
Now, I’m not saying that Google is the end-all be-all of places where your potential guests go to search. They may have a favorite site (like an RV park review site) that they like to go to whenever they’re looking for a park. They probably do this because they had good experiences in the past using that site and they trust the information that’s provided.
You may do this when you’re shopping for things online. For example, Amazon.com has become a go to site for many people who want to buy products online.
And that’s why…
Your Website Has to Be Found BEFORE It’s Worth a Dime
Five to ten years ago, it was enough just to have a website for your RV park. But, times have changed.
Now, there is a lot more competition which means your RV park is probably not going to be listed at the top of Google and it’s probably not going to be listed at the top of YouTube (especially if you haven’t made any videos), and it’s probably not going to come anywhere else unless you know you need to actively market your park online.
Meet RV Park Owners Where They Are (Not Where You Wish They Were)
There’s a saying in marketing and advertising
“If you want more customers, go to where your customers already are”.
Now, if your customers are like you, and you go to Google or YouTube when you’re searching for something, then maybe that’s where your RV Park needs to be, right?
Let’s discover how you can do this.
Outflank Other RV Park Owners (Before They Sneak Up Behind You)
One of the things that you want to do is to essentially outflank or out-maneuver your fellow RV park owners (i.e. “the competition”).
The way to do this is to be strategic about how you approach your marketing.
To help you do this I put together a free “7-Step RV Park Marketing Plan” that shows you how you can be found where your customers are looking.
This free marketing plan essentially walks you through the websites that you need to use to put your park front and center in front of potential RV park guests. The benefit is, most of these websites are completely free.
Now, I realize that you’re probably already very busy operating your park and any other businesses you may own. So I want to issue a word of caution about a trap that you can potentially fall into.
Tell me if this rings a bell with you…
The “We’ll Get Your RV Park to the Top of Google” SEO Marketing Trap
If you do have a website, do you ever get those spammy emails offering to get your site to the top of Google?
I get them all the time, and they are SPAM (another word for “garbage” or “snake oil”).
I fell for this trap when I was first getting started online, and let me assure you, it is a trap and a waste of money.
Here’s the dirty little secret…
Nobody can guarantee you a top spot on Google (unless they are offering to buy something called PPC ads (Pay Per Click) on your behalf.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why can’t someone actually get my RV park to the top of Google?”
Google changes all the time.
And, Google changes all the time to outsmart those sneaky SEO companies trying to game the system. And, let me assure you, Google has an insane amount of PhD level talent that spends all of their time crushing the efforts of these spammy SEO companies.
Like they say, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
These SEO companies are famous for ranking people for keywords (e.g. “RV Parks in [Insert Your Town Here]”) that don’t really matter, like “Top 12 RV Parks In Branson” – in other words, keywords that have no competition because NOBODY is looking for them.
Did you spot the part that nobody is typing in? If you guessed “Top 12,” you are smart and you’re onto their game.
“If Most SEO Companies Will Only Get My RV Park Website to the Top For Keywords Nobody Uses, What Can I Do?”
First of all, realize that while no one can promise to get you to the top of Google for the keywords that you need to be listed for, you can hire someone who will make every attempt to get you there.
Second, realize that this is not a game you play one time and win.
Google is constantly changing the search results that they return. You probably noticed this when you search the Internet. So just sit down buckle up and realize that this is a game you have to play consistently over the long-term.
Thankfully, after you do the initial work upfront, the workload decreases a lot.
Third, find, interview, and hire either an individual or an RV park marketing agency that shoots straight with you and knows what they are doing. More importantly, find a marketing agency that will continue to execute over the long-term.
If you read my article on the “3 Reasons Why Your RV Park Is Struggling,” you’ll know what I’m talking about.
If you haven’t read that article, I highly suggest you read it after you finish with this one. In fact, just click this link and it will open that article in a new window or a new tab and you can read it when you’re finished.
Case Study: Intel Versus AMD (The Massive Value of Being First)
Now, let’s consider whether or not you should do this now or whether you can afford to wait. I don’t know if you know the story of Intel and AMD, but those two companies really illustrate this point well.
Intel and AMD are both microprocessor manufacturers. The difference between the two is that Intel was the first to market.
By being the first to market, Intel was able to capture so much of the market that their research and development (R&D) budget alone became equivalent to AMD’s total revenues.
What kind of an advantage do you think that gave to Intel?
That’s right! It gave them a whole lot more money to play with and a much bigger marketing budget, which led to even more market share. You can see how this quickly becomes a discouraging situation for the #2 player.
In terms of your own RV park marketing, this would mean the difference between you getting into the game early and deciding to do what it requires to market your park versus taking time and doing it later.
If you are like Intel, and you get into this game early, then you gain a lot of traction over your competitors.
However, if you are like AMD and you wait, then you’re constantly playing catch up against a competitor that’s getting all of the RV park guests you would’ve otherwise put into your park. This means you won’t have the revenue to spend on marketing that your competitors have.
So let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that you do decide to start marketing your park on the websites where your potential RV guests are actually looking for RV parks.
What happens next?
Once They Find You, Your RV Park Website Matters A Lot
Now, once your RV park guests do finally find your website, then your website becomes extremely important.
Now, there are a few traps that you can fall into at this point.
“Fancy Shmancy” Design Versus “Designed to Persuade & Convert”
When most RV park owners or managers go shopping for a company to design their website, they fall prey to fancy designs and interesting graphics.
Should your website look attractive? Absolutely. But, it needs to go beyond just being attractive.
Signing up with a website developer just because they design attractive sites can be a huge mistake.
Let me tell you little story to illustrate this point…
A good friend of mine owns a well-located self storage facility in Hawaii, which he built (thus introducing the challenge of filling the vacant storage units).
He found a local graphics design and web development company to design a website for his self storage facility. When he told me about the site I went and looked at it and realize that the site was designed in something called Flash.
Alarm bells immediately started going off in my head.
From experience, I knew that sites designed in Flash rarely ranked well in the search engines, because the search engines aren’t able to scan the content (which meant the search engines didn’t know whether or not the site was relevant), and therefore didn’t return it in the search results.
The end result being, of course, no customers from the fancy-shmancy and expensive website.
I advised my friend to have the site redesigned using techniques that would actually convert instead of using fancy designs. Well, the truth is, he didn’t do it immediately…
He waited at least a year.
I’m sure you can understand how he felt. He just spent a bunch of money on a fancy website, and didn’t want to spend more money to change it.
Unfortunately for him, this was a classic example of being penny wise and pound foolish.
How much money did he lose in that year? A lot!
Then, one day when I was talking to him, he told me that he had changed the website like I had suggested.
He was getting tons of leads and tons of customers from the new website.
So what’s the lesson in all of this?
You’re right! He should have had a website designed that would work well with the search engines, so that his customers could find it.
But, he didn’t know better.
But once he did know, he should’ve just gone ahead and spent the money right away (which he would’ve quickly recouped in terms of more customers for his business).
And, now that we know that most website designers are not experts in search engine marketing, that brings me to the next point which is extremely important.
Most RV Park Web Site Designers ARE NOT Persuasive Copywriters
Most of the website designers that you talk to you about designing your RV park website are great designers, but, they are not great copywriters.
If you’re not familiar with copywriting, copywriting is simply the process of understanding the human behavior and psychology of your potential customers well enough to write the content of your website in a way that will cause your customers to want to buy your product.
If you’ve ever picked up one of the Sky Mall catalogs that are in the seatbacks on airplanes, you have read something designed by expert copywriters.
If you’ve ever watched an infomercial on television, those infomercials are created by expert copywriters (why do you think they can afford to run those ads on television?).
Great copywriters know exactly which buttons to push, which order to push them in, and the exact words to use to increase our desire to pull out our checkbooks or credit cards and buy.
How are they able to do this?
Well, the short answer is they spend years studying psychology and human behavior, tons of time understanding their target market, and tons of time testing to find out what actually works.
They discover this through trial and error, and they apply these lessons to their craft.
Now, I’m not trying to knock website designers or website developers. They serve a very necessary function. But, often the requirements of good copywriting require so much time and effort to master, that it is difficult to be great at both.
Persuasive Copywriting REQUIRES Understanding The Industry & RV Owners
One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to be good at website design and copywriting, is because persuasive copywriting requires an in-depth knowledge of the industry that you’re dealing with, the products, and the mindset of the customers (in this case, RV owners).
In fact, you probably know far more about the RV park industry than your website designer.
And, this fact leaves you with a couple of options.
Write The Copy Yourself or Hire a Copywriter With RV Park Industry Experience
You can either write the copy (the content) on your website, in your ads and in your videos or you can hire a copywriter that has experience in the RV park industry.
Not to toot my own horn, but one of the reasons why so many RV guests show up at my clients parks ready to sign up or ready to tour the mobile homes that they have for rent, is a direct result of the copywriting.
And, that copywriting is a direct result of me growing up in the mobile home and RV park business and spending thousands of hours studying copywriting at great (but definitely worthwhile) expense.
Now, learning copywriting is a great skill for any business owner or entrepreneur that wants to get better at persuading potential customers to buy. Unfortunately, it can take a lot of time to do well. If you want to know some great copywriting resources, just get in touch with me and I’d be happy to share them with you.
Bottom line: learn how to write the copy for your own website, your videos, and your ads or hire a copywriter that is very familiar with your industry. This definitely pays dividends.
Many of the potential tenants that show up at my client’s site say things like, “I owe it to myself to tour your park before I rent somewhere else,” which is a direct word for word phrase I use in their mobile home and RV park advertisements.
Now, assuming you are going to get a handle on your copywriting and your web site, let’s discover how we can get your RV park guests to market for you.
Get Your RV Park Guests To Market For You (Ninja Strategies for RV Park Managers)
Persuading your RV park guests to market your park for you is like jet fuel for your RV Park’s occupancy rate and profitability.
To understand why this is the case, we need to understand something called “social proof”.
RV Park Reviews Are Powerful “Social Proof”
Let’s start off with an example.
When you were considering buying something online, visiting a restaurant, or going to a hotel, how much weight do you give to the reviews that other people have left online?
My guess is, a lot.
By comparison, how much weight do you give to someone if they tell you their product is great? Not much right? After all, they are biased.
However, their customers are not biased. That’s why we tend to believe what customers say in testimonials while being suspicious of what business owners and salespeople tell us.
There’s a reason why Amazon.com includes reviews for each product that they sell on their website. They’re using a powerful psychological factor known as, you guessed it, “social proof.”
So what is social proof?
To understand this, we need to understand what people do when they’re faced with multiple options and don’t know which one is the best.
For example if you’re looking at three RV parks for a month-long stay in a city that you haven’t been to, which one do you know is the best?
In the absence of knowing, human beings look around to see what other people are doing or what other people are saying.
In the case of looking for an RV park or a hotel for example, you’ll give a lot of weight to the reviews that other people have left because that’s really all you have to go on.
If you want to learn more about social proof, I highly recommend a book called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini.
That book will rock your world and give you a very good understanding of why people buy (including RV owners).
Now, do you understand the importance of getting positive reviews for your park? Good, I thought you would! Now let’s figure out how to do it.
Why You Should Systematize The Process of Getting Positive RV Park Reviews
The sad truth is, most people are more motivated to leave negative reviews than positive reviews. This can be a big problem now that the Internet has made it so easy to leave reviews for RV parks.
It is what it is, but we don’t have to sit idly by while the negative reviews stack up and hurt our park’s profitability.
What we can do, is to put a system in place to get positive reviews, which will drown the negative reviews.
The 3 Keys To Getting Positive RV Park Reviews
If you’ve read the article I wrote on the “3 Reasons Why RV Parks Struggle“, then you know what’s necessary to get positive RV park reviews. If you have not read that article, click here and it will open another window, so that you can read it after you finish this article.
To summarize, we need to put a system in place that will get positive reviews for your RV park. Here’s how we do this:
- Set up a system to ask your tenants whether not they are happy.
- If they’re unhappy, fix the problem immediately.
- If they are happy, ask them to leave a positive review for your RV park while they’re in “a peak emotional state”. In other words, when they are at their most excited point about being in your RV park.
- And finally, and most importantly, show them exactly how to leave a good review.
One of the things that I’ve discovered in marketing RV parks for my clients, is that this is one of those things that often falls through the cracks. That’s precisely why you need a system to make sure it happens automatically.
The Hidden Benefit of Systematically Asking for Positive Reviews for Your RV Park
Now, there is a side benefit to this…
Most people fail to ask their customers whether or not they are happy. And, human nature being what it is, most customers won’t say anything to the RV park manager or to the RV park owner if they are unhappy.
In fact, it’s more comfortable for them to vent their frustration by going online and leaving a scathing review (that drives away future guests).
However, by putting a systematic process in place, you can solve these problems quickly and turn unhappy customers into delighted customers who can’t stop saying good things about your park in the level of service that you’re providing.
The more positive reviews you get, the higher you will rank on sites like “Google Places” and the more likely it is that RV owners will choose to rent from you instead of from your competition.
And that my friend, will put more money in your pocket (as promised).
At this point, you now know more than 98% of other RV Park owners (the 2% are already raking in the big bucks). I think that’s a good place to stop and wrap this up. What do you think? Good. Let’s do it.
If you want to market your RV park online in order to get as many new RV guests as possible, which will increase your revenues and your profitability, there are a couple of steps that you need to take:
- Realize upfront that creating a website is not enough.
- Understand where your customers are going online and then go there and meet them with something persuasive enough to get them to your website.
- Forget fancy-schmancy designs. Instead design your website to convert your visitors into customers.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your website designer can write persuasive copywriting for your website or for any of your marketing materials unless they are very well educated in copywriting and the RV Park Industry.
- Learn copywriting or find a copywriter that is very experienced with the RV Park Industry.
- Put a system in place to get positive reviews for your RV park that will drown negative reviews.
Now, I hope you have a much better understanding of “The No B.S. Approach: How to Market Your RV Park Online”. If you want to download my 7 Step RV park Marketing Plan, click here. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment box below.
If you’d like to talk to me about creating a strategic plan to market your RV park, give us a call or schedule a time to see if we’re a fit.