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Episode 35: 

Kimberly Sundt, Customer Experience + Marketing Expert

Show Notes:

About Kimberly

Guest Kimberly Sundt brings over 20 years of business experience in hospitality, events, design, and retail to the show. She shows small business owners how to get more customers through the door and talking about your business. She helps us do this through brand clarity and consistency, customer experience, and always, always.connecting the dots in your customers' minds. 

Let's get started!

Kimberly has been marketing and working for over 25 years and she’s always told her clients “we have got to connect the dots in the customer’s minds”. It’s so critical.


“I do not believe that the customer is always right. And that it’s always about the customer.”


It’s so important that we connect our brand to our customer. Who we are and what we are is just as important. That’s what she helps small businesses do – she helps them understand what makes them unique and different – what’s the unique way they are solving their customer’s problem.


She works with a lot of boutique hotels. Consumers need a place to stay and sleep. There are a lot of places to choose from. How and why you are going to deliver that is really important.


When you stop connecting the dots in your customer’s mind, you start to lose customer loyalty. It doesn’t make as much sense any more.


What's your unique offering for your target audience?

Be your customer. Ex. If you have a guest bedroom in your home, think of how it functions from the perspective of your guest. It’s very important to really become a customer.


If you’re a service provider or only online, Google yourself incognito. What does it feel like to be on your website? Walk through the entire experience. It identifies the touch points as well as the pain points. It identifies those things that are just irritating – start finding things to fix.


Brand Experience Audit

Secret shopper meets a brand audit. Understand who you are and who you are trying to attract. She makes an appointment and goes through the whole thing – is the room clock set at the right time, parking lot, also “is this on brand” is there brand clarity and consistency throughout every touch point. What’s the experience pre, during and post purchase – and "how do I feel throughout?".


Kimberly provides a different perspective from marketing or whoever hired her.


Marketing Coaching

She helps small businesses especially those that can’t have a full time marketing director or director of sales and marketing. The person in that role wears SO many hats. She gets on the phone once a week or once a month to bounce ideas off of – just to help them make decisions.


Hotels, boutique hotels reach out to hire her. Why? "We’re not really sure we’re reaching the right people. We know the guest experience isn’t as good as what it could be. We aren’t even sure our branding is what it should be." They bring her in to figure it out.


The invoice should be just as good as the marketing. It’s the entire experience – it’s the music in the lobby, it’s the service or product or store (whatever you’re selling) – that’s  your marketing and your branding. They are forming opinions based on that.


Marketing is being redefined on marketing, branding, customer service.


Marketing and sales – moved the book ends – from proposal to invoice. Who’s responsible for marketing and sales? It’s everyone. It’s the accounting department (if you have a lot of employees), marketing needs to see the invoice, sales needs to see the invoice. What if the customer had a great experience with the brand, marketing and sales then gets this drab and boring piece of branded material called an invoice? Make the invoice part of your brand – add a quote or something inspiring.


Kimberly reviews an example when working with a major hotel chain. She was in marketing and her boss told her she was going to NYC to make sales calls. Sales then did the same. When they got rid of the solid line and created a dotted line.


When you go through the journey of your brand and your customer journey, the problem and how you’re solving it. More than a brand guide – your entire journey and your strategy.


Marketing going to sales – what impact and how did it change what she was doing in marketing. She realized she was helping them with something they needed. They need information, they need stories and you’re providing that and helping them.


They have a problem – I have a solution – my solution is a great fit for them. I’m going to explain it and help them understand it. That made being in sales easier:  realizing she had a solution to a particular problem.


Example of Angela – Angela was a real customer who also ended up becoming the name of the ICA for marketing personas. It helped them tweak their messaging.


Sales people are the ones out there talking to the customers. The managers and executive team they are behind closed doors. It’s the parking attendants, guest services, cleaning service – they are the ones that hear everything so it's important to be having conversations with everyone at all levels regardless of department in order to fully understand the customer and their experience. 


6 Ways to Better Understand Your Customers - Workbook.

Listening is one of the ways. Why it’s a good idea, story, action then tactics for each of those. It’s an inexpensive, no cost way to really understand what your customers are thinking, what they value and how they make decisions. You have to know that, before you can sell to them and before you can do strong strategic marketing. 

What can people expect on your website for boutique hotels?


  1. Brand experience

  2. Hotel rebrand/reflag (was one brand and changing the brand) – she can look at the entire experience plus 

  3. Hotel marketing coach – get on a call or Zoom with her and she walks through weekly or monthly

  4. Blog Pineapple Ponderings – thoughts on the style and business of hospitality (pineapple is the symbol of hospitality). There are articles focused on businesses such as:

    • How To Create Boutique Hotel Packages

    • Why Music Is So Important to Your Business

    • How to Be Thoughtful When You Create Your Guest Experience

    • How to Create a Great Girlfriends and Gratitude Party

      • Is your social media personality better than your in-person personality? Kimberly shares an example of an experience in Atlanta with a new boutique shop in Atlanta.


Brand consistency IS connecting the dots.

When there’s something that doesn’t make sense for the brand, your customers stop connecting the dots in their heads. The minute two of those dots aren’t connected, things can start falling through the cracks. It doesn’t make sense to them anymore. The second it stops making sense, is when they start looking at other places and start feeling zero guilt for going to another company.


Kimberly has also done speaking gigs and hosted workshops.


Her goal with her blog, Pineapple Ponderings? They will have a new perspective. They will be able to look at things differently and start solving problems in their business. They will be inspired! Just to have a new idea, “I can go do this in my business!”. Even if you aren’t in the hospitality world there’s a lot to find on the blog.


She’s her best self when she travels. And that works well in the industry she’s in. She likes to stay places that inspire her. She does a lot of research ahead of time. She finds properties and sometimes she’s disappointed. You should take care of your guests. That’s why she does what she does. She’s visited and stayed at many properties because they looked beautiful online but then here’s no soul and no real experience once you get there.


Travel is so important in our lives especially small businesses when we can get away that space and the experience is really important.


To buy your product or service, we have the responsibility to bring the humanity back into our business.


Everyone wants word-of-mouth marketing – 80% of word-of-mouth marketing is based on the experience not on the product or service that you sold. So the restaurant meal may be delicious but it’s the experience around that great meal that they will talk about.


We want people telling stories and talking about us in person and socially. To really grasp and understand how to create the experience is to connect the brand to the experience - and that's the best kind of marketing we can do today.

My 3 take aways from my conversation with Kimberly:

  1. If you don’t connect the dots with your branding, marketing, sales and customer service, you increase the risk of losing business.

  2. To understand your customers, you need to BECOME your customer.

  3. Marketing is being redefined as marketing, branding, sales and customer service.

How is Kimberly Connecting the Dots between Marketing and Sales?

Kimberly is extending the connection beyond just marketing and sales - she expands it from a company's brand to the invoicing. All the connection points between the awareness of a brand to the time the customer receives their first invoice, she connects the dots so the brand and messaging are consistent. When there's consistency, you increase the chances of creating a great customer experience throughout the entire process. And when there's consistency from your customer's perspective, they are less likely to choose someone else - they will continue choosing you. 

Connect with Kimberly via

  1. LinkedIn

  2. Website

  3. FREE Download from Kimberly's website "How to Better Understand Your Customers" Workbook

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