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Last Update: Monday September 20, 2021

Key Idea: Get Customers to Talk

Location, location, location plus fabulous food and friendly, warm service turned Harpswell Inn into a success.

Key Question:


Susan & Bill Menz say, "word-of-mouth marketing rings up profitable sales." We agree. This makes perfect sense: if you don't pay for advertising, you get to keep more of the cash you generate. On the other hand, to get word-of-mouth to happen, you have to invest in what everyone now calls the, "Wow Factor."

Q: How do Susan and Bill get the word-of-mouth to happen?

A: Everything about Harpswell is a, "Wow!" The location, the architecture, the grounds, the white paint and the fresh blueberries added to the pancake batter just before it is cooked and served. In addition to all the things you can list and work on yourself for your business, we must add a spiritual dimension. Susan and Bill make people feel cared for. They make people feel important and as if they are the only guests who have ever stayed at Harpswell. This is that intangible that puts the word-of-mouth over the top.

The pure joy of cooking and creating new recipes was recounted in the story they told about Susan whipping up a brand new concoction one morning. It just so happened that her fearlessness won the attention of a guest who is the food editor of the London Times! We suppose that Susan could have flopped and fell on her face that day. We suppose that it is taking a big risk to cook something new for 35 strangers who have paid big bucks to stay at your establishment. But nothing matters to Susan more that having fun and pouring love into every bowl. This is key to the word-of-mouth marketing that they get from the 4,500 guests they will have during the course of a year.

Q: How does one get word-of-mouth marketing in print?

A: The bed and breakfast business has plenty of writers creating travel guides in the form of books and magazines. Harpswell Inn at Lookout Point is written about in many of these guides including Fodors, the London Times, Yankee Magazine, Down East and Connecticut Magazine.

You can't just send out a press release and expect the publications to pick it up. There has to be a certain enthusiasm and love of the work, because it is that affection that creates the unique stories that the editors want. We suggest you invite an editor to lunch and talk about your favorite customers. This person will be amazed that you are not talking about yourself and as a result will write generously about you.

Think about it

Have you ever made a list of the publications you would like your business story to appear in? Can print about your business stimulate some word-of-mouth? What action can you take to stimulate more word-of-mouth advertising?

Clip from: Marketing From A Distance - Maine to the world

One of eleven business owners in this episode

The Coast of Maine: Meet people who see the world as their marketplace. They see beyond the horizon; they know no boundaries and no borders; the world's people are their family.

In this episode of the show we meet eleven business owners who would rather live in Maine than anywhere else in the world. They are seasoned travelers who, after touring the world, decided to stay in Maine and make it their home and build their legacy.

Every person in this episode is committed to their community. They are active in their local Chamber and they are driven to make their community and our world a better place.  
And, we could go to every village, city and town in the world and find people like the people you meet here.  
These are the quiet heroes. Many are new pioneers. They charter new waters and break new grounds. They all create unique products and services and sell them around the world. They are volunteers, the value creators, the movers, the shakers, the doers, and the lovers of life. We can learn a lot from these hardworking, decent folks.

Harpswell Inn

Anne & Richard Moseley, the new Innkeepers,
Please Note: Susan & Bill sold to the Mosley family

108 Lookout Point Road
RR1, Box 141
Harpswell, ME 04079

Visit our web site:

Office: 2078335509

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Get Customers to Talk

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Located on the ocean on one of Maine's most famous finger peninsulas, historical Harpswell Inn at Lookout Point dominates a knoll overlooking a quaint cove, which serves as a snug harbor for lobster boats. Susan and Bill Menz are the owners of the inn, the bed and breakfast that sets the standard. They are found every morning in their spacious kitchen, stirring up everything from the classic to the surprising.

SUSAN MENZ (Harpswell Inn): Here we go, Maine blueberry pancakes.

Unidentified Woman #1: Oh, incredible. Oh, my.

SUSAN: How about that?

Unidentified Woman #2: Wonderful.

BILL MENZ (Harpswell Inn): (Voiceover) It is incredible the people you meet, just flat-out incredible. Every day's a new day. And it's exciting.

HATTIE: From all over the world.

BILL: Yes, there are bathrooms to do and there are beds to make and so forth, but it is fun. Have you had breakfast yet?

HATTIE: (Voiceover) All business owners who are the best in the world at what they do make it look easy to the rest of us, and like in every endeavor, the magic is in the detail.

SUSAN: (Voiceover) We have 4,500 people a year, so we don't per se send out Christmas cards or information, but what we do is a wonderful job, we think, when they're there. We're enthusiastic. We promote the area. We advertise. The Chamber of Commerce does a great job, Maine Tourism Bureau.

(Voiceover) We've been written up in many books, Fodor's, as places to stay in Maine; so many books that we don't pay for the advertising. People just come and write us up. We've been in magazine articles. We've been written up by Yankee magazine. We've been written up by the food editor of the London Times.

BILL: Food editor of the London Times.

SUSAN: Connecticut Magazine.

BILL: We'll never forget that one.

HATTIE: Did he or she... BILL: She.

HATTIE: ...write about one of your recipes? She wrote about the food?

SUSAN: Yes. She did.

BILL: Yeah. Yeah.

SUSAN: We were on the front page, full color.

HATTIE: So what was it that stood out in her mind that she says, `I've got to write about this'? What was the dish?

SUSAN: We called it a fisherman's breakfast, and we had 35 people for breakfast that morning. (Voiceover) And I decided to try a new dish, and Bill looked at me...

BILL: (Voiceover) I couldn't believe it. SUSAN: (Voiceover) ...and said, `Are you crazy?' BILL: (Voiceover) Couldn't believe it.

SUSAN: (Voiceover) `You're going to try a new dish with 35 people?' And we usually sit down with the last people...

HATTIE: You do.

SUSAN: ...the last people at the table...

BILL: Right.

SUSAN: ...and talk to them and we were talking in and out, but we usually sit down with the last guests. And we began asking how they liked the breakfast, that they were kind of guinea pigs. And she said, `We love it,' and her husband said, `Well, my wife is going to write you up.' And I said, `Really?' And he said, `Yes. She's a food editor for the London Times. And we just had lunch with Julia Child yesterday.' I said, `Oh, my God.' `If you had told me that, I would never have made this this morning.'

HATTIE: (Voiceover) You've got something. What do you think it is?

BILL: I think it's Susan, without a doubt.

SUSAN: I think it's Bill.

HATTIE: And you've been married to her for 40 years

BILL: Absolutely.

SUSAN: Forty-one.

HATTIE: So you're not prejudiced

BILL: You betcha.

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