What times we live in. The world is changing around us every day. And frankly, many of us are fighting the constant challenge not to get overwhelmed or frozen (analysis paralysis anyone?).
Many blogs and articles that I’m reading have a distinctly dark tone. And that’s fine. But where there are hard times ahead, there are also opportunities.
In this article, we are going to focus on 9 key points to remember when you are trying to navigate the new normal in terms of your marketing.
For tourism operators, and hospitality and really any sort of businesses, this is a time to seek new opportunities out. A time where while businesses are forced to re-evaluate their existing plans, there is the chance to create new ones to help ride out the uncertain times.
On the digital platforms, we are seeing behaviours change already. In the last couple of days there has been a surge on both Instagram and Facebook.
From a digital marketing perspective, it’s really important to get your messaging right, strong and true at the moment. Potential visitors and guests are nervous and looking for reassurance that they will be treated appropriately when they visit you. It might be that promoting the ‘care-free, happy-go-lucky’ message will fall flat.
Above all, do this.
Here’s the ONE SINGLE thing that we all MUST do.
We. Must. Not. Panic.
We must stay calm and put in the work to keep things going not just for today, but for tomorrow.
Because it’s how we respond today, now, that impacts how we will recover in the future.
It’s how we recognise those opportunities today, that deliver reward in the future.
Life is changing, and so we must also change. Marketing is no different. And I know, any sort of change can be scary, but here’s the thing. Marketing is not brain surgery. Yes, it takes a clear head, creativity, strong strategy and commitment to action, plus of course being able to tap into the relevant technical mastery, but these are things to which we all have access.
While the motivation of customers and guests is changing, some things stay the same.
They still have to live their lives. They still have to laugh with their families. And they all want to see a positive future.
And to that end, I’d like to share with you some guidelines which will hopefully help steer your new marketing plan in a brand new, optimistic direction. Let’s go.
1 | Own the market. This is your chance.
Whilst others are cutting their marketing budgets, this is your chance to review what you have in the marketplace now, and make new weekly / fortnightly / monthly plans, that you may have to change on the fly. And while you’re thinking about day to day, as you should, don’t forget the long term view.
HOW TO DO IT: Amplify what people love about your business. Focus on the things you KNOW your customers and guests love about your offering. If you get into a muddle, refer back to feedback and look at your reviews. Then build your new plan around that. And remember, that now is the time to spend while others cut back.
2 | Get your brand OUT THERE. Make BRAND AWARENESS your friend.
Don’t cut your marketing budget, now is not the time. Re-allocate it.
HOW TO DO IT: If you had a promotional calendar, maybe park those activities for the meantime, and shift your focus to 2 areas: Brand Awareness, telling stories about your unique-ness in a way that gives confidence in your product, and Retargeting – so you are keeping your warm audiences engaged. Loyalty will be a very strong currency in this market.
For your brand awareness, use strategies that get the best bang for your buck – I would recommend lots of Video View campaigns on Facebook for example, because there is no other way to show off your offering for an average 5-10c per view!
3 | Take your business online.
If you were relying on TradeShows, Events, Roadshows, or physical sales teams to spruik your offering, now is the time to take that message online.
HOW TO DO IT: Work out your core messaging, remembering that there is no human interaction between prospects and business initially, so it needs to be crystal clear. Tell your story through brand awareness first – use Facebook and Instagram with Reach, Brand Awareness or Video Views objectives to get out to as many people as possible, depending on your ad spend budget. Then retarget with offers through with social ads, google, and email. With more people working at home, email may potentially experience a resurgence in open rates.
4 | Package and bundle, package and bundle.
Remove ALL barriers to entry by packaging up options to make the decision making process as easy as possible.
Remember, that people don’t HAVE to travel, eat out, or visit your resort or attraction. They have to CHOOSE to. Your offering is a CHOICE. Make it as easy as possible for them to choose you.
HOW TO DO IT: Show value through add-ons. Test offers and coupons at retargeting level to see what people resonate with.
Note: I would be wary of discounting. The road to price point sales is fast and downhill, but getting back to your normal pricing could potentially be an uphill marathon. Think carefully about how you offer even more value.
5 | Build your audiences.
This too will pass, and when it does, even though the landscape will be changed, people will still want to live their lives. So when they are ready to get back a normal routine, make sure you are top of mind. Make sure you are primed and ready with audiences to which you can market immediately.
HOW TO DO IT: Track your online activity. Build audiences of video views, make sure that you test all different levels of watching eg 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%, to understand who is actually interested. Create audiences of people who have spent long periods of time on your site. Of course include web traffic, Facebook page engagement, Facebook likes, and Instagram engagement. Bank that data.
6 | Find new Audiences.
Test new demographics. For example, if the ‘Grey Nomads’ were your core audience, think about what you could offer families instead.
HOW TO DO IT: Look at new demographics, such as age groups, and craft offers for those who are wanting to live life as normally as possible. If you’re doing ads, create audiences with specific interests relevant to potential demographics to test out.
7 | Stay close to home.
Focus on your local and drive markets first. Create a sense of unity with offers and messaging that forms a sense of community.
HOW TO DO IT: Leverage local community spirit in your copy and images, be inclusive and caring, and illustrate a positive future. In your Facebook ads, use geotargeting to make sure you are talking to your locals directly.
8 | Keep your messaging on brand.
All of a sudden people are thinking differently, about everything. So you need to think differently about them. Their motivations have changed, and they are looking for reassurance that your destination has got the correct, up-to-date safety and hygiene rules in place. So the normal barriers to entry will be replaced with new ones, and those are the ones to address.
HOW TO DO IT: Take notice of what questions are being asked, what concerns are being raised, and go out of your way to communicate those on your website, your socials, your advertising. You’ll be amazed how much reassurance customers get from seeing their questions already being answered, without them having to physically ask them.
The key here is to be flexible and understanding – and position your destination or venue as a sanctuary for them, a reprieve from the barrage of everything else.
Humour has its place of course, especially with us Aussies, but there is a fine line, so stay on the right side of it.
9 | Remember your uniqueness.
This is key – because the smart players are going to be going hammer and tongs (well, they should be 😊) so keep your messaging full of the personality that people love. Make sure your creative imagery is the best that you have.
HOW TO DO IT: Firstly, remember that the majority of people are seeing your ads on their mobile – so you really only have three lines of copy to get their attention. Make it count. Secondly, use multiple versions of creative formatting – still images, video, collections, carousels – and see what your audience likes best. Thirdly, have team members do regular lives – this will grow your engagement organically.
Right now, lots of people have been saying that marketing across the board is potentially a hot mess. But it doesn’t need to be that way. It’s still a mix of art and science, it’s just that right now, today, it needs a sensitive and sensible approach. It needs calming language that instils trust, and that is appropriate for your brand, and your customers.
We still need to be aspirational.
We still need to show our uniqueness.
We still need to be approachable.
Be upfront about what you offer, and give assurance about what you are offering, how you are offering it, allay fears and concerns.
Give your customers and guests somewhere they can relax and escape from the barrages of today’s news. Do that well, and they will return time and time again.
And please, stay calm, and stay safe.
If there is any way that we can help, get in touch.