Adjusting Your Hotel Digital Marketing Strategy During COVID-19

When it comes hotel digital marketing during COVID-19, here are some tips on rethinking messaging, audience targeting, and marketing platforms.

Rosie Sparks of Skift may have had one of the best introductory takes for tourism digital marketing during the coronavirus outbreak. To paraphrase, she said that hospitality marketers will have to walk a fine line to develop hotel and resort marketing plans during the crisis. Naturally, potential guests have grown increasingly and understandably cautious about leaving their homes for non-necessary travel. On the other hand, some relatively low-risk marketing tactics could attract the revunue that hotels and other travel businesses need to stave off disaster.

So, what are low-risk digital marketing tactics? Skift mostly focused upon marketing isolated or outbreak-free destinations to help allay tourists fears about traveling during a pandemic. For instance, they published examples of a social and display advertising strategy that consisted of showing idyllic pictures and videos of fairly isolated places that hadn’t been touched by the coronavirus outbreak. These included African savannas, smaller European cities, and remote jungles.  Other marketers have also highlighted the ideas of staycations that can give travelers a way to give into their understandable urge to simply get away from it all. 

Is promoting virus-free staycations a viable digital marketing tactic for hotel marketing?

The publication noted that government and health organizations from all over the world have urged people to stay home during the outbreak. Right now, they admitted that promoting any tourism at all can damage brands. While some destinations have enjoyed a certain amount of success with this tactic, it’s risky because it’s controversial and also, won’t work for everybody.

For instance, residents of some of these mostly virus-free places have protested against attracting too many out-of-towners to their location for fear they may bring the disease with them. People who agree that it’s best to shelter in place as much as possible may also resent this kind of messaging during a crisis, even if they don’t personally have anything to lose. Most of all, not every hospitality marketer has the luxury to promise a place to escape that’s far from the pandemic.

Suggestions for a better digital advertising strategy for the pandemic

So how can resort and hotel marketing companies best use their precious marketing budgets productively during the coronavirus outbreak? Mostly, you have to find ways to adjust your audience targeting for the times. Because you’ve changed your audience, you should also recognize their needs and concerns within your messaging. To understand how to proceed, dig deeper into some examples.

Rethink your display advertising strategy budget

You may have to work with a lean marketing budget while your business slumps. You can take heart from knowing that your competitors also have to trim expenses, so you may have opportunities to enjoy some bargain placements from publishers, search, and social platforms.

For example, Skift noted that Google’s typically robust travel search has almost become unrecognizable because of the lack of ads. Once you narrow down your message and target audience, you should have plenty of opportunities to test your marketing for much lower rates than you paid a few months ago.

Uncover low-hanging fruit to target

Figure out which people still might visit your business. Even though most people have chosen to stay chose to home, some hotels have managed to keep a steady flow of bookings with visitors like these:

  • According to USA Today, thousands of hotels have signed up with an organization called Hospitality for Hope. This matches hotels with agencies in need of lodging. An obvious example of guests this can attract would include healthcare workers who have ventured into cities to help with coronavirus hotspots.
  • Similarly, hotels have worked with hospitals, city or county governments, and individuals to help house medical workers, loved ones of patients in hospitals, or even people who don’t need medical care but still need a comfortable place to self-quarantine away from family. For instance, many doctors and nurses have chosen to isolate themselves in hotel rooms for the durations to reduce the risk of infecting their families.
  • Besides essential businesspeople who still need to travel for important work, local remote workers have checked into hotels as alternative workspaces. For instance, a parent with a house full of kids may need a quiet place to attend to a day full of video conferencing meetings. With typical work-sharing venues closed down, a hotel can typically provide the amenities these employees need.
  • The idea of offering staycations may still work, but instead of trying to attract international travelers to exotic destinations, any city or suburban motel could offer staycations to people who just want to leave home but not travel very far. Hotels and resorts can offer room service, in-room entertainment, and other amenities to help attract guests who live nearby but still want to feel like they’re getting away from it all. Some hotels have worked with local restaurants to promote gourmet weekends with a variety of meals that get delivered right to the front door.

Naturally, once you uncover an existing demand, you may want to tailor packages that will appeal to these people. Whslasile most marketers caution against slashing rates too low to attract guests, you might consider ways you can add value to your packages without reducing revenues too much. Some ideas that other hotels have promoted include discounts for long-term stays, packages that include room service and other upgraded amenities, and of course, relaxed cancellation policies.

Choosing tourism digital marketing platforms

Naturally, you should maintain your presence on any robust social sites you already inhabit. Some content ideas might include:

  • Use graphics and videos to demonstrate the extra steps you have taken to protect the health of your guests and employees during the outbreak. For instance, you might even produce a video of your cleaning staff working to sanitize a room for new guests. If you do have rooms for people who need to self-quarantine, you might demonstrate that you have established this block of rooms on a different floor or wing than the rooms for other guests.
  • Describe the packages and offers you have developed to help attract your new target markets. Let people know about your long-term stay rates or staycation amenities. If you’re close to a local hospital, you might consider offering transportation or free video calling services as part of the deal.
  • For something likely to appeal to the homebound masses, you could have your staff create content that highlights their specialties. For instance, your chef could do cooking demos, your spa employees might demonstrate relaxation techniques, and your cleaning crew could even demonstrate the best way to sanitize surfaces.
  • If possible, you should consider including all sorts of hotel employees in your ads. You can let the public see the faces behind your hotel and remind potential guests that their stay at your venue helps keep these poeple employed.

You might also consider targeting some publishers that already attract your potential market. Consider medical publications to appeal to healthcare workers, business publications to find employees who need workspaces, and even local food and travel blogs to find families, couples, and individuals who would splurge on a staycation. You might assume that some of these publications have also suffered revenue drops, so they may offer lower rates for premium spots.

Craft your messaging carefully

Right now, travellers have grown increasingly and understandably cautious. You certainly want to reassure your guests that you can offer them a safe place to stay. You can also let them know that you’ve made your booking and cancelation policies more flexible to accomodate their current needs.

Beyond that, you may soften up your call to action to help entice hesitant bookers. For instance, you might formerly asked ad viewers to “Book Now.” These days, it’s probably best to lighten up with something like “Learn More.”

It’s also time to take a page from the hotels that have pushed their remote destinations as an alternative place to stay during the outbreak. Formerly, your website and ads may have featured your bustling lobby or crowded restaurant. Today, people want to avoid the sorts of crowds that might have attracted them before. You might want to replace those images with scenes from quiet parks, private rooms, and scenic vistas.

Can hotel and resort marketing still thrive during the coronavirus outbreak?

Nobody doubts that most hospitality venues have struggled during the current crisis. As marketers, you probably have to make due with a leaner budget. At the same time, your failure to market at all won’t improve the situation. You can make the best use of the resources that you have by uncovering the most likely demand, utilizing your resources, finding discounted advertising rates, and of course, providing your audience with the right messaging at the right time.

In the long run, you will discover some winning strategies that will help you maintain business and emerge stronger once the worst of the crisis has passed. You might even decide to retain some of these effective programs because they will also work during normal times, but you just never would have thought to add them otherwise.

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Video Marketing: Keep Your Audience Engaged During COVID-19

Video marketing for business during COVID-19 can replace trade shows, keep customers engaged, and promote brand transparency.

COVID-19 has spread to all 50 states and to almost every country in the world. Along with the pandemic, governments have curtailed business activities and cautioned citizens to stay home as much as possible. As businesses struggle to adjust to this new reality, they’ve had to rapidly adjust marketing plans to cater to very different consumer behaviors and their own uncertain futures.

Uncertain or not, marketing has to continue or your business may not enjoy much of a future at all. Even if your have to operate with a tighter marketing budget, video marketing for business will provide you with a very useful tool and good potential returns for your brand and bottom line.

How to use video marketing to help your company overcome the pandemic

You may wonder if you have the funds to invest in video marketing for business right now. As your business environment has changed, you will probably find some other marketing items that you have to cut anyway. For instance, typical businesses allocate 30 to 40 percent of their budgets to attend trade shows and conventions. Since most of you won’t have the chance to travel anywhere soon, you might as well redistribute those funds. With that in mind, consider ways to make good use of your video content.

Create a video for business trade shows

In fact, you can work to replace those in-person meetings with virtual meeting via videos. For instance, if missing trade shows means that you also miss opportunities to connect with potential customers, why not host your own version of the event online. You can repurpose keynote speeches as videos, feature other speakers in their own videos, and host webinars to replace the meeting sessions you may have planned.

Invite everybody who had planned to attend the original trade show and put out the word on social media. Try to engage online influencers, and if they’re big and enthusiastic enough, invite them to present their own video too. This is a good time to share resources and develop partnerships.  You might actually draw a larger audience online than you could have in person, particularly if you record everything to let your audience either tune in live or later at their convenience.

Keep in touch with customers

During a crisis like this, your customers won’t find your silence golden at all. In fact, you’ll want to do more to ensure you stay on top of your customer’s minds. If like many other businesses, you’re struggling with suppliers and distribution channels, you can produce a video to explain why can’t deliver exactly the same kind of service that you’re customers have come to expect from you.

Some other things that you should let your customers know could include:

  • How hard you’re working to ensure employee and customer safety
  • Any changes that might impact planned operations or scheduled events
  • Details of your more flexible refund or cancellation policy in response to your customer’s needs

In other words, you worked hard in the past to set your customer’s expectations. If you can’t meet those expectations, you can develop a video to explain your situation. In the midst of a global pandemic when over 20 million Americans have had to file for unemployment in just the last month, your customers will understand and appreciate your transparency. Still, since they’re all likely dealing with plenty of their own uncertainty, they won’t appreciate your silence.

Keep customers and prospects engaged

Lots of small businesses have gotten pretty creative with their videos lately. They’ve tried to cater to the needs of customers, most of whom have to stay home themselves. For instance, restaurants have started to produce cooking videos and fitness centers have uploaded at-home workout classes. Lego, the toy manufacturer, has started increasing its like of educational videos to help the millions of parents who are suddenly confronted with the challenge of home schooling. Your videos don’t necessarily have to sell your products or services; however, they should help to sell your brand.

Local video marketing can enhance new distribution models

Most retail stores have been forced to close their doors to customers because of the pandemic. Some of these stores had really not developed an eCommerce presence well before the outbreak. Still, they have creatively adapted online videos that can duplicate customers the experience of browsing around the store. Using these, they can take orders through their hastily developed eCommerce sites, simple forms, or even over the phone.

Is video marketing for business effective?

Zach Basner directs IMPACT’s video marketing strategy. As he put it, video offers the only digital way for people to see, hear, and even get to know you. It gives you an opportunity to make connections even when you cannot meet people in person. He also believes that small businesses should not concern themselves too much if they cannot access high-end video equipment during the crisis.

While it’s important to produce valuable content that’s good enough for people to understand your message, you shouldn’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good-enough. If you need to choose between shooting your video at home on your cell phone or not producing video at home, use what you have. He also says that production companies may have also lost businesses and may be more willing to help edit those videos for a reasonable rate than they might have been in the past.

Do what you can and seek help when you must; however, it’s important to get those videos produced and uploaded, even if they’re not as perfect as you would like. Basner also said that user-generated content tends to perform quite well on some platforms, so your imperfect production might blend in even better than a finely polished piece.

Basner also mentioned that you might enjoy bargains when you’re posting video ads on social networks and search engines. Bids have dropped along with ad volume. If you’re coping with a trimmer marketing budget than usual, you can bet that your competitors have the same limitations. Right when the weaker hands have folded, you can benefit by making some bold moves to retain customers and strengthen your position for the future.

Can video marketing for business strengthen your company?

As HubSpot pointed out, a decade ago, lots of businesses considered video marketing an expensive luxury. Now it’s become accessible and recently, even more affordable. Out of all marketers who employ videos, 92 percent confirmed that it’s a vital part of their marketing strategy in a recent HubSpot survey. Even more, almost 90 percent of these marketers confirm that it provides them with positive returns.

Of course, some video marketing pieces perform better than others. That’s why you should not abandon developing a sensible marketing plan that defines goals, sets metrics, and tests performance. You should also consider the platforms that you plan to use. Most marketers use Facebook and YouTube. Facebook tends to perform better with short, punchy content, while YouTube viewers appear to have a somewhat longer attention span. Lately, TikTok has begun to emerge as a successful platform, and B2B companies have enjoyed success with LinkedIn.

In any case, your efforts to improve your national or local video marketing efforts can serve you well during the current situation. When you can’t meet with people in person, you can give them the next-best thing with online videos. Because you don’t have to meet with everybody, you should even have a chance to expand your reach. Your business can retain the connection with your current customers and attract new attention.

Eventually, businesses will emerge from this global crisis. You will have the chance to open your doors to the public and travel to trade shows and conferences again. Then, you might compare the returns you get from these in-person meetings with your video ads. You might find that your stronger video platform can continue to serve your company well for many years in the future too.

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Restaurant Marketing and Customer Acquisition After Coronavirus

Restaurants affected by COVID-19 are getting creative with their customer acquisition strategies. Read our restaurant marketing tips for inspiration.

The restaurant industry has been singled out as one of the kinds of businesses most impacted by the coronavirus crisis. Government orders have closed dining rooms across the country. At the same time, many eateries have struggled to hang on with delivery and takeout — and some have even done quite well. Thus, it’s still not time to abandon the restaurant customer acquisition ideas that can bring in revenue now and help you emerge even stronger after the coronavirus outbreak finally passes.

Restaurant customer acquisition ideas for during and after coronavirus

Pre-coronavirus, the National Restaurant Association projected almost $900 billion in revenues for American restaurants in 2020. In March, out of about 700,000 jobs lost, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of the laid off employees came from the hospitality and restaurant industry. John Harkey Jr., the CEO of Consolidated Restaurant Operations, called this crisis a financial tsunami for the restaurant business. In any case, it’s clear that the restaurant customer acquisition and marketing plans that businesses had before the shut-down and stay-at-home orders will need to change quickly.

Consider online ordering, pickup, and delivery

With the growth of delivery services and consumers’ growing desire for convenience, delivered, takeout, or drive-through meals already accounted for a significant and growing percentage of overall restaurant revenue. Some kinds of restaurants, like pizza places and fast food, had already based a large portion of their business around delivery and takeout. Still, as various state and local governments began to close dining rooms, some restaurants had to scramble to put online ordering in place.

Sometimes, they did not have time to do much more than post a menu on their website and social sites and offer customers a phone number to call for curbside pickup orders. Still, depending upon the existing following these restaurants had, they still managed to keep a steady flow of customers.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Orlando restaurant marketing has focused upon delivery to offset the loss of in-store business. They gained assistance in their efforts when Uber Eats, one of the largest delivery companies, waived their fees for any orders from independent restaurant businesses. Some of the larger chains already offered their own delivery, and they’ve also begun to stop charging fees as a gesture of goodwill to their patrons and an incentive for more people to order.

Exercise enlightened self interest

Pickup won’t work for all restaurants. Harkey, the CEO mentioned above, said that they operated most of their restaurants out of malls, and since the malls have closed, they can’t easily offer pickup and don’t really have the structure in place for deliveries. At the same time, delivery companies like DoorDash are heavily promoting an #OpenforDelivery campaign that pushed their services, the restaurants they work with, and even such competitors as GrubHub and Uber Eats.

Some restaurants have balked at using these kinds of services because of the extra delivery charges, but for restaurants without capacity to offer certain services, they might serve as a handy option in more ways than one. In addition to pushing national chains, they’ve also helped promote local restaurants they deliver from. Another example of related businesses sharing resources includes a group of businesses that agreed to donate a percentage of revenue to coronavirus-relief charities. As they all promote the relief effort and their own struggles to keep employees working, the digital presence of the charitable organization also promotes the companies that sponsor it.

Create compelling digital content for your restaurant

Certainly, you attracted diners because they loved your food. Even better, you may have retained business because your customers loved your facility and even you. With that in mind, you can develop content that helps strengthen your connection.

You could give your audience a behind-the-scenes video tour of your kitchen. Introduce them to your staff or let them watch you prepare one of your specialties. For example, one high-quality Italian restaurant shared an engaging recipe of the process they used to make, cut, and cook their homemade pasta. Another produced a series of cooking videos. Don’t overlook introducing your audience to your hard-working employees in order to remind customers that their patronage helps keep people working.

These kinds of content tend to do very well on Facebook, YouTube, and other social platforms. Don’t worry about giving away all of your secrets, you’re probably just going to make more of your audience hungry than eager to attempt your recipes. If you need extra revenue, you can even monetize your content with ads and sponsors on some platforms. Don’t worry if you don’t have any production experience. While you should strive for quality, you can find cell phone apps that will allow you to shoot, edit, and upload decent videos.

Don’t abandon marketing and advertising

Plenty of research from other downturns demonstrates the wisdom of maintaining a marketing budget. Business that do tend to weather the crisis and emerge even stronger. As with other hospitality businesses, you might need to adjust your restaurant customer acquisition strategy a bit, but you certainly should not abandon it.

Realistically, you may have to trim your budget, but you may find that some advertising platforms have grown less competitive as your competitors have done the same. You may also find you can do more with less as you focus upon satisfying existing demand within your community.

Geo-fencing for restaurants

Geo-fencing refers to setting a perimeter around your physical restaurant. For instance, you might use this technique to connect with people who are within the same shopping center, at work in a nearby essential business, or even just passing by your door. When they pass within the perimeter, this technology can alert them with a ping from a social network advertising platform, text, or message from a mobile app.

Geo-fencing for restaurants has proven to convert really well. It might offer you the perfect way to improve your takeout business now and entice more customers in the future after you have opened up your dining room again.

Retargeting

When people search online for the kind of takeout that you offer, why not concentrate on the hungry customers who have already visited your website or social platform in the past? Plenty of industry marketing analysts have suggested that businesses with limited marketing resources may enjoy better returns by focusing on ready-to-buy customers instead of trying to generate a new demand.

Build mutually beneficial relationships

One restaurant owner saw that hospital workers had an increasingly tough time accessing meals because cafeteria dining areas had closed and only essential staff could enter the building. He spoke with hospitals and found an opportunity to use his own catering vehicles as distribution points from outside the hospital, so hospital workers could pickup food and distribute it inside.

Besides generating an extra revenue stream, the restaurant had a chance to develop a lot of good will both at the hospital and within the community by featuring the story on social media and in press releases. They also began operating food trucks and started a GoFundMe campaign to help offset some extra costs, which also helped generate even more publicity.

I still need more marketing ideas for my restaurant 

If you still need a few more tips, you can find plenty of good examples from other restaurants around the country. You might include some of these promotions in your advertising to help attract new customers without increasing operating expenses:

  • You can save money on delivery costs by encouraging curbside pickup. You might incentivize customers to stop by with such incentives as a free dessert or appetizer.
  • Incentivize their next orders by offering customers discount coupons and gift cards along with each pickup or delivery. Also, work to promote gift cards that customers can buy to save for later or give to others as gifts.
  • Try offering family meal packs or kids-eat-free specials to help attract all those families who now have their children home from school.
  • Consider simplifying your menu or even offering a fixed-price meal deal. You can also try rotating a smaller set of menu items to help you reduce inventory and provide encouragement for customers to try next week’s menu.
  • Promote discount bulk orders that you package for easy storage and reheating. Some restaurants have even started offering meal kits that give customers the ingredients and instructions to duplicate some of their dishes at home.

Whatever you do to adjust your menus, hours, or business model, make certain that you keep employees and customers updated by posting updates to your website and social media. Also, let customers know about the steps you take to protect both them and employees. This current crisis will pass; however, most people will probably retain a heightened awareness about the many ways that germs and diseases can spread. You can help reassure them that you work hard to protect them now and will continue to do so in the future.

Restaurant marketing after the coronavirus starts now

The restaurant customer acquisition strategies that you develop today can help sustain your business through this tough time and help you emerge with a larger customer base than you had before. Once this crisis passes, and it will, diners will be eager to enjoy restaurants again, and you can make sure they intend to reward themselves with a trip to your dining room.

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Why Differentiation Is the Most Important Marketing Tactic

Even as marketers, the team at our Florida marketing agency knows we’re also consumers. Each day, we face hundreds of choices as to where to eat, where to shop, and which brand of soda to buy. Giving your money to one brand is, essentially, giving your support to that brand to keep doing what they’re doing. Particularly, in the case of a repeat purchase, you’re telling the brand you’re satisfied with the product and have returned to using it again.

But, what is it that drives you to that decision to support that brand? Often, it’s convenience, like when I’m on the road, starving, yet the only restaurant around is that McDonald’s just off the highway. However, typically people have more options. Instead of going to the Publix down the street, you could drive a bit further to Fresh Market, where you know you’ll be welcomed by a team of happy people serving fee samples, and will have the opportunity to purchase healthier foods that you might not get from a competing store down the street.

Or, maybe you like Fresh Market, but you know you can get a much better deal from Winn Dixie down the street. It may not be as fancy, but you know their deli meat prices are unbeatable. In this case, Winn Dixie can differentiate itself based on cost.

Many times, business owners and marketers fail to recognize the importance of differentiation. Differentiation is a key aspect of effectively marketing a business. It is what tells people why you’re superior to other businesses and competitors in the space. If you can’t beat other businesses based on cost, then perhaps you can beat them based on luxury, convenience or customer service.

Differentiation is the process of standing out in some way. If there are a million others just like you, there’s not much to make you stand out. But, if there’s some way you can distinguish yourself from others, you can beat out competitors by being the best at whatever that is. It’s okay if your brand can’t beat others in every category… it’s a matter of finding the one that’s right for you, and committing to being the best within that space.

Take, for example, Ethica, a grassroots business dedicated to women’s apparel. If the business were limited to just that, they wouldn’t stand a chance against larger retailers that can make clothes cheaper using factory laborers. But, that’s just it. Ethica’s founders decided to adopt a social good initiative, allowing them to only carry clothing and accessories that they can verify is created ethically. Because of that, they’ve garnered attention from some of the leading fashion publications in the United States. Differentiation is key in the company’s success.

You can see many examples of differentiation in the choices you make every day. I tend to spend more money on my favorite brand of tissue, but I’ll forsake quality for price when it comes to kitchen needs, like plastic wrap or aluminum foil.Everyone has preferences, so for marketers it’s often just a matter of delving into those specific preferences.

When thinking about your business, ask yourself how you are differentiating your business. If you can’t think of anything, then start today by emphasizing your strengths, and working to design campaigns around those differentiators. The team at our Orlando ad agency guarantees that focusing on differentiators will bring results. Contact us today to get started setting your company apart.

Marketing AFTER the Coronavirus

As the coronavirus continues to grip the world, companies must act now to ensure marketing campaigns are able to weather the crisis.

The effects of COVID-19 on business and business marketing

From the plummeting Dow Jones averages that are rocking Wall Street to the forced closures and loss of consumer activity that are devastating Main Street, businesses of all sizes are on shaky ground during the ongoing coronavirus crisis. As social distancing continues to force events to cancel and bring face-to-face interaction to a grinding halt, certain industries have already suffered catastrophic damage. And other industries are bound to follow as factories shut down and companies fall into dormancy.

As they lose customers to the terrible but temporary chaos of COVID-19, business must take care to ensure that these customers ultimately return to them when the crisis is over. This typically means significantly altering, if not entirely redesigning, their marketing efforts with a dual focus on immediate risk management and long-term goals.

Wise companies are already getting ahead of this issue by taking immediate and comprehensive action. Take, for example, the recently launched ad campaign of the fast food giant Chipotle. Like other major restaurant chains, it has rapidly created, produced, and distributed, television and digital video commercials that stress the safety and reliability of take-out and home food delivery.

As you formulate and execute your response to the coronavirus crisis, make sure that you are retooling your marketing campaign to meet the demands of the present and look forward to the opportunities of the future. Here are just a few tips and guidelines to help you bring your business through these uncertain and difficult times.

Managing your marketing efforts to survive the coronavirus

1. Put Safety First

Few industries have faced as much immediate damage from the COVID-19 outbreak as the global tourism industry. This makes the words of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) all the more urgent as its stresses putting safety first. By stressing customer safety, the HSMAI strives to protect overall company reputation as well as individual guest health. Businesses that do so earn “trust, respect, and loyalty.”

A big part of putting safety first is keeping customers well-informed of relevant coronavirus facts and response protocols, particularly those that may affect your company’s operational processes and/or the goods/services that you offer. When providing this information, it is important to refer to and cite respected authorities such as the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the various local public health agencies at work in your area.

Think carefully about the ways in which COVID-19 is likely to impact your specific industry specifically as well as the greater community at large. What value you can provide as an organization to help keep people safe? As you contemplate this question, remember that this crisis is evolving rapidly and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This means that your commitment to safety will require flexible planning and your marketing plan must adapt to the moment as conditions continue to fluctuate.

2. Assemble Your Crisis Management Team

If your company is exceptionally large or specialized to deal with a specific type of risk, you may already have a dedicated crisis response team in place. Most companies, however, fail to prioritize crisis management and have never even considered developing a valid crisis plan. Well, now is certainly the time to do so.

Gather functional leaders from across your organization under the leadership of its top communications executive or chief executive officer. Other crisis team members to consider for inclusion might be legal counsel, human resources professionals, operations/facility managers, sales/customer service directors, and any leaders in the fields of public relations marketing, and communications. All team member should clearly understand their specific responsibilities and areas of concern.

For smaller companies without a dedicated PR or marketing team, MarTech Advisor contributor Indrajeet Deshpande recommends contracting with a qualified outside agency. In any case, your business should have in-house spokespersons at the ready in case you are approached by any independent media outlet or news publication. These spokespersons must be property trained to faithfully and effectively answer any question that they are asked.

3. Choose the Proper Media Mix

As part of your crisis response and overall marketing plan, you must remember the famous words of Marshall McLuhan: “the medium is the message.” In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, choosing the right media channel for your public outreach is more important than ever. In other words, if you fail to choose the right forms of communication to deliver it, your marketing message will likely fall on deaf ears.

In his March 20 article “Why Companies Turn To Digital Marketing To Survive COVID-19,” Forbes writer Bernard Marr points out that businesses will have to become more and more reliant on digital media channels. “Without wanting to sound too alarmist, he states, “in many cases it will be the deciding factor in whether they make it through the tough times ahead.”

As people continue to practice social distancing, they will connect more than ever via the Internet. This makes leveraging your online marketing capabilities absolutely essential over the comping months. Ensure that your company website and social media pages contain helpful information and present a positive brand image at all times. While emphasizing digital marketing channels that range from banner ads to email newsletters, remember to keep an appropriate amount of traditional media outlets in your media mix.   

4. Practice Careful Media Buying

As part of your media mix planning, don’t fail to consider the supreme importance of cost. If it is to survive the COVID-19 crisis, your business will likely need to implement some fairly austere budgetary restrictions in the short term. Simply put, you will have to use every one of your marketing dollars wisely and make it count.

The Wall Street Journal reports that companies looking to mitigate immediate risk often cut advertising spending first and foremost. “With the coming U.S. presidential election and Summer Olympics, 2020 was expected to be a good year for advertising,” writes WSJ contributor Suzanne Vranica. “Then came the coronavirus.”

Careful media buying will look different from business to business and from industry to industry, but most organizations can benefit from gravitating toward digital media channels, which are not only generally less expensive but more suitable to a market under the ongoing effects of diligent social distancing. To learn what effective media buying can do for your particular company, you may want to contact a qualified marketing agency.

5. Develop Creative Campaigns Driven by Common Sense

In today’s challenging marketing environment, it is more important than ever to find extremely creative ways to keep your brand in front of their customers. Even companies that are temporarily shuttered must plan for a future in which brand positioning will become absolutely essential to survival.

In light of this, place an incredibly high value on unique and striking marketing campaigns that are carefully designed to turn heads. Just make sure that your creative content is properly vetted and above reproach.

In the words of Google’s global marketing vice president for media Joshua Spanier “in the spirit of reassessing campaigns, we’re finding that all kinds of creative elements need scrutiny right now.” As an example, he warns against any use of “slapstick humor” that might come off as tone deaf in the midst of the serious times in which we live. Certain imagery – such as actors using “handshakes, hugs, and high-fives” to interact with one another – may also turn off your existing and potential customers.

6. Employ Key SEO Techniques

Among the other benefits of digital media outreach, search engine optimization (SEO) reigns supreme in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. As quoted in Forbes, 123 Internet Group Chief Executive Officer Scott Jones points to SEO as a key way to reach new audiences in the current market.

As brick-and-mortar shopping becomes increasingly impossible, consumers are turning to ecommerce in numbers that are rising exponentially. SEO can help to ensure that your company appears at or near the top of the list when people search online for the goods and/or services that you provide.

By maximizing your online marketing through SEO, you can also benefit from the practice of geo-targeting. This involves optimizing not only for search terms that relate to your goods/services but for search terms that relate to your location as well. This is a great way to attract consumers from within your state, your city, or even your particular neighborhood.

7. Leverage the Power of Video

In addition to benefiting from the incredible audience targeting power of SEO, digital marketing gives you the versatility to present your message in a range of compelling ways. And, at present, consumers are responding to video messaging in droves.

In fact, the independent authority Quicksprout recently released research showing that consumers report a 74% increase in their overall understanding of a product or service after watching a video. And this engagement can lead to a significant improvement in your bottom line. Quicksprout goes on to report that a well-made video boosts the likelihood of a purchase by 64%.

In terms of general public relations and effective branding, the eye-catching and attention-retaining nature of video makes it a great way to remind consumers to stay with you, or to come back to you, as a company.

To learn more

Contact a skilled and knowledgeable Bigeye representative today for more information on the current impact and lasting effects of the coronavirus on your marketing campaign. A highly innovative and forward-thinking marketing firm, Bigeye prides itself on its ability to respond quickly to the challenges of a constantly evolving marketplace.

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What Brands Can Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Pivot your marketing strategy to handle coronavirus by producing digital content, airing television ads and OTT ads, and a communication strategy.

Shift focus from events to digital

On top of major events like NBA games and Coachella being cancelled or postponed indefinitely, conferences, expos, and trade shows have also been cancelled. According to a Demand Gen Report, 53% of B2B marketers say in-person events are the most effective channel for driving conversions, so many marketers are now searching for new channels to connect with target audiences. 

Google Cloud Next, Adobe Summit, Y Combinator Demo Day and more have opted for a digital-only approach. Although digital-only events do not offer the same traditional networking opportunities as in-person events, marketers can experiment with their event strategies to still capture those audiences. Consider these tactics: 

  • Produce digital content that can still influence your intended audience. Even though your company will not be able to interact with your audience in person, you can still reach them through digital channels. 
  • Target attendees with email campaigns or direct-mail. These channels provide the personal messaging that audiences look for while attending events. 
  • A/B test everything to measure the effectiveness of attending events in the future. You could find valuable insights from changing your strategy this year. 

Opportunity for television and OTT advertising

Social distancing and work from home mandates mean more people will be at home watching television and streaming content. Audiences are tuning in to reporting on the coronavirus pandemic and searching for ways to stay entertained while limiting contact with potentially affected areas. 

Although ad spending is projected to slump across the board, reallocating budget to television and OTT advertising could pay off. Many brands are cutting ad spend in preparation for lower sales projections, which means there could more inventory available. Between self-quarantines, cancelled events, and precautionary measures, potential consumers are on the couch in front of the television as a captive audience.

Communicate any service disruptions to the customer

In the event your supply chain is disrupted, you have to cancel your event, or any other major changes, clearly communicate to your consumers why your regular service may be affected. Your customer will understand if your company has to make changes in the current situation as long as you are clear on why the package is taking longer to arrive or you are issuing a refund. The last thing the consumer wants is to be left in the dark and without the proper information.

Dispel misinformation about your brand

Misinformation about COVID-19 is multiplying across all social media channels. In-depth social listening for mentions about your brand will help you monitor untrue information that could be harmful to many people. 

For example, some people are attempting to make their own hand sanitizer using Tito’s Handmade Vodka and aloe. However, the CDC recommends that hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol and Tito’s only has 40%. To stop this unsafe information from spreading, Tito’s is replying to all tweets with a statement disproving it and recommendations from the CDC. 

Don’t sacrifice safety for the bottom line

It’s hard to predict what kind of long-term impact coronavirus will have on our economy, but it’s important to keep acting with brand values in mind. At the end of the day, the safety of the public is the most important thing and companies should act accordingly.

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