907.529.2391 | mary@barbergp.com

Sometimes All You Need Is A Fresh Set of Eyes

This weekend I’ve been in Walla Walla, Washington interviewing candidates for Whitman’s top scholarship program. More on the absolutely incredible young ladies we met in another post. Today, I want to talk about how a fresh set of eyes can cause you to see things more clearly.

I was enjoying the scrumptious breakfast served at The Maxwell House B&B. I had just taken a picture of my breakfast to share on social media when I started talking with the owner about social media and her website. She’s not comfortable with social media but has been told she needs to do it. So she’s trying but she doesn’t understand why…why she should do it, and what it will get her. Breakfast for royalty

Before she makes any changes, I suggested she answer some questions:

  • Why do you want to change your marketing effort?
  • What is the primary message you want to convey?
  • Who are you talking to?
  • What do you want them to do/say after reading?
  • How will you know you’ve been successful?

Her website is pretty and succinct but it lacks her personality. We asked her how she happened to open the B&B and our reaction to her story inspired her to look at some changes to her website to better tell her story:

Penny Maxwell Bingham had a dream of one day owning a bed and breakfast in a small college town. It’s really lucky that one day her husband was in Walla Walla when he stumbled upon what is now The Maxwell House B&B. He called her to say he was living her dream. They bought the house without Penny seeing it.

Her husband said there were a few things that needed fixing. That was an understatement as it took Penny nearly a year to bring the house to today’s excellence. She built a front staircase the city and many contractors said wasn’t possible. A 22-year old carpenter showed them all they were wrong.

This is the story of The Maxwell House.

Maxwell House B&BShe went on to tell us about the stories she’s heard from her guests. There’s the woman who stayed in the house (before Penny owned it) while her husband was a soldier in Vietnam. She had their first child in the house but he had never seen it. Stories like this will be added to the website as a new tab, instead of as a disconnected blog.

It’s really amazing what a few minutes of time spent focusing on a business with fresh eyes can reveal. It’s also amazing how clearly you can see once you know where you’re going.

Oh, and if you’re ever in Walla Walla, be sure to stay at The Maxwell House B&B. You won’t regret it!


By |2017-03-07T00:44:24+00:00April 22nd, 2013|Strategic Communications Planning/Counsel|4 Comments

About the Author:

Mary Deming Barber, APR, Fellow PRSA, runs a strategic communications consultancy where she helps clients understand how to integrate new media into traditional communication programs. Mary has counseled clients in Tacoma, Anchorage, San Francisco, Oregon, and Colorado for nearly 40 years working with a variety of food organizations, several agencies, and as a key team member on two successful US Senate campaigns. 


  1. Shonali April 29, 2013 at 6:04 am - Reply

    That’s great, that she’s going to start adding those stories. That’s also a great marketing strategy, to tell the stories of people who come and stay there… it could almost become a “contest” of sorts to see if their story makes it. Nice job, Mary!

    • mdbarber April 29, 2013 at 10:45 am - Reply

      Shonali Thanks Shonali. It was a fun morning. She was concerned she was divulging personal information by telling her guests’ stories. I told her she really wasn’t, especially if she doesn’t use names. I don’t think that’s an issue, do you?

      • Shonali April 30, 2013 at 11:50 am - Reply

        mdbarber No, not if she changes their names, identifying characteristics, etc. Of course, if I were her, I’d contact the guests to ask if they’d like to be featured on the site. I think that could be a great marketing strategy.

        • mdbarber April 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm - Reply

          Shonali I suggested that to her as well. Personally, I would love to be featured. We also talked about her posting some friendly news and photos about the town on her Facebook page. I’m really happy that she’s started doing that. She’s just not used to doing this so I think it will be baby steps.

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