(You can do more than you think.)
With each downturn, marketing frequently is one of the first budget cuts. In this unprecedented period, there are valid reasons for some companies to draw back. But, often that is the reactionary move and maybe a better response is to challenge the thinking to what CAN be done. Some revenue is better than none and continued brand presence and operational consistency will hasten the return of guests.
With that in mind, here are six ways to build confidence and short-term revenue.
- Institute visual appearances that let guests know you are paying attention to the details of health best practices and being ‘safe’ to visit:
- disposable gloves used by staff
- one-use wipe clothes in foodservice
- covered plates by waitstaff
- greet at a distance … let guest determine how close they want to be
- arrange chairs/tables/loungers further apart
- leave note in room each day that housekeeping has ‘disinfected’
All these can be subtly visual demonstrated and shared in social media posts.
- Price for occupancy and include credits or ‘meal plans’ to support other functional areas – spa, F&B, golf, etc. Room credit works in a couple of ways … avoids decision/off-site anxieties and supports staff. This is a unique situation that squarely impacts travel, so a short-term low rate does not necessarily impact long-term brand value. “We’ve never seen anything like this!” Yep, including our unprecedented rates and values – for right now. Some revenue is better than none and it obviously helps your staff.
Examples: The Cloister at Sea Island, offering a $299 room rate with a $200 room credit.
Southwest Airlines just announced $49 fares with no fare higher than $199. Those kind of deals are using rate to get those on the fence to make a decision.
- Staycation. People, especially those in metro areas, may be looking to take advantage of being able to work remotely and with the kids out of school, take a short trip.Look at your drive-time markets and target them. Pay attention to group spaces.. but most properties can manage ways to keep guests separated.
- Cancellation. Allow it. Without penalty. That will encourage people ‘on the fence’ to book now and not be penalized later if conditions shift. Keep in mind the fear of the unknown may be the biggest perceptual barrier in the U.S. at present. OTAs are the big loser here. They are getting crushed in consumer confidence by their inability to respond to cancellation requests. Not only is this hurting them in the short-term, but they are no doubt losing customers forever over their management of refunding cancellation requests.
- Continue marketing, but spend efficiently. Fact: companies gain market share during hard times by continuing to market themselves. The majority of the world is not willing or able to travel right now. But, there are some bookings happening. Find the feeder markets that are not hard-hit (most of the U.S., actually) and efficiently target them.
If you are silently on the sidelines, what is your shot at them? Likely not much because a competitor is trying. Bigger picture: much of marketing is a cumulative effect. So the efforts you make today will hasten your business – and market share – when restrictions and concerns ease. Build for a faster recovery! Front load your efforts for the rest of the year.
- “The glass is half full.” Remind and reinforce the good things happening.Leverage reviews, stories on social media of staff and guests that showcase recent experiences. Don’t simply reinforce the precautions, reinforce the good things that are HAPPENING right now at your property. Someone’s anniversary dinner. Enjoying the day at the beach. Pool service. Having a cocktail. I want to be there!
What is Your Greatest Point of Pain?
A survey of marketing pros by Reveries magazine a few years back remains timely. Three significant “points of pain” emerged:
You. The biggest reported “pain” was someone else, either a client or an agency person. More than 80 respondents identified someone else as their biggest pain; either not understanding issues, plans, goals, strategies, not buying into programs, subverting or discounting them or abandoning them before completion.
Information. The second biggest cluster of “pain” focused on not having enough information. More than 60 respondents noted that they did not have enough sound information to guide them. Of these, there were at least 23 mentions of not having the tools to effectively evaluate ROI or other results, not having relevant information in general, not enough information to develop effective messages, to select or assign media to create plans.
Resources. The third cluster had to do with the “pain of not having enough” – i.e., budgets, people, time to getting things done, or adequate systems.
Several noteworthy comments from respondents:
“Lack of respect within my company for marketing as a profession. We are still in the mode of “anyone can be a marketer.”
“The greatest Point of Pain is to gain the customer insight.”
“The point of pain – marketing people having no clue as to what their value proposition is, with no passion or sense of custodianship. This lack of involvement simply trickles down to the consumer, who in turn is lambasted with tired and frustrating brand messages. The result, consumers devoid of any meaningful relationship with their brand.”
“I’m pained by clients that don’t think like customers, forget that they are customers too, and are too internally focused.”
Insights gleaned and applied:
Have a clear-cut marketing strategy. Define value of planned activities, expectations on results and ensure that it is understood and bought into upfront.
Information is certainly not the issue today. Sorting through data and knowing what matters and what is important to apply is the issue. Forming insights into strategy remains an art.
No passion = no connection with consumers. Act like a consumer, think like a consumer and find the point of passion, not pain.
“Let’s have the receptionist handle the social media.”
… said no CEO that answers to a board. While that company wastes the most efficient media and the engagement opportunity with fans, their competitors are treating social media as seriously (and correctly) as other advertising. Regain your competitive balance, hire an expert to handle your social media.
Customer care through social media is a must.
Integrating customer feedback is a must-have in a social strategy. Imagine being a store manager and addressing a customer issue. Instead of it being a private conversation, you have hundreds of people gathered around watching and listening to your response. That is the impact of handling consumer questions in social media.
Consider these facts from Peter J. Solomon Co.:
“32% of social customers expect a response within 30 minutes”
“46% expect it within 1 hour”
“80% of negative social comments can be turned into a positive if the response is quick enough”
1% increase in engagement leads to 11-12% increase in the likelihood of the customer returning
Fast social response builds brand advocates. IF it is accurately addressing a solution, it is keeping with the standards of the brand and not simply offering an apology. Give the consumer a story that you’d LOVE them to share.
Self-service technology can hinder brand touchpoints.
Consumers increasingly prefer self-service due to speed and control. While providing this solves immediate consumer concerns, it may limit opportunities for valuable brand connection points. Consider ways to inject brand culture along the touchpoint path.
GRM uses tools to execute social media, but we also have people engaged in the pages of our clients daily looking for opportunities to respond, start a conversation and simply engage person to person. No substitute.
“It ain’t brain surgery… but it can be complex.”
… said an enlightened participant from last week’s GRM / UGA Social Media Marketing Bootcamp. The social media Bootcamp in partnership with University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism will be returning this fall. Stay tuned for specific dates.
Our team will be the instructors for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits: Certificate of Nonprofit Social Media series, beginning April 3, 2018.
Are You Really Creating Loyal Customers?
There is lots of marketing talk related to loyalty, customer retention and how to leverage digital media for fantastic results. But, the reality: most loyalty and traditional frequency programs have dubious payouts. They may trigger initial response and traffic, but most fall woefully short when analyzed against the real overall return against costs.
Instead, what has motivated people to act for hundreds of years, still holds true today. Good ole “word of mouth,” or referral.
And, the best brands have the most effective marketing vehicle ever invented or discovered – their own zealots! Zealots, as defined in marketing terms, are passionate followers or customers who identify with the brand personally.
Harvard Business Review
in a compilation of research determined the number one indicator of long-term brand profitability was… the likelihood of a company’s customers to recommend their product or service to others. Referral
We have entered a new phase that requires us to redefine and revisit how we establish and build loyalty. When we think about what creates loyalty, we tend to think in transactional terms, starting with loyalty programs. For decades now, airlines have locked in passengers with frequent flier programs. Today, the retailer without a loyalty scheme of some kind is the exception, not the rule.
With the rise of Big Data, such programs are becoming more robust and tailored to consumer wants, needs and motivations. But they inherently offer external rewards that pay us as consumers for our frequency of visit/purchase. In effect, consumers must first “earn” the reward. Shouldn’t the opposite be the case – the business earning customer loyalty?
“Zealotry Marketing” is about creating programs that have a primary goal of generating referral. If referral is the best indicator of long-term profitability, then it makes sense to us to use that as the starting point for creating marketing programs – not merely looking at referral as an indirect outcome. This has led us to a revolutionary perspective on the classic marketing principles of targeting, what is creative, how social media can be an effective touchpoint. And, heresy for old-school marketers, the most effective marketing may well come from operations and service delivery.
This is the story of Zealotry Marketing. Real loyalty begins with a company not just ‘advertising’ rewards, but exceeding consumer expectations. An approach that can be integrated into any company. It does require a passion to understand and delight those who love your products. Zealotry Marketing transforms the traditional loyalty equation.
Insights gleaned and applied:
Referral is the surest long-term measure of brand profitability.
Consumer insights, willingness to exceed expectations and passion for what you deliver is critical to building a zealotry marketing program.
What are you doing to create zealots?
You are invited to join the conversation by commenting publicly or privately to this article on Twitter @findingZealots. If you are motivated to do the right thing and inquire about engaging GRM in your business, please respond directly to this email.
As always, find your zealots and nurture them!
Does it Change the World as We Know It?
A few takes to hopefully provide some equilibrium from the latest Facebook announcement.
Facebook has been making changes consistently over the years. This is merely the latest. And it’s very unlikely that it will be the last from them. Because now that Facebook has virtually saturated the market, they are looking to increase relevant content to make time spent on their platform more meaningful. And, yes, to continue to increase their revenue. Remember? They are a publicly traded company. Increasing revenue will always be a goal for Facebook.
So, what to take from their announcement?
Don’t seek those who promise algorithm tricks or ‘silver bullet’ answers. Because Facebook has and continues to tweak their platform, even if there was a way to beat their program today, it is unlikely to be sustainable even in a short-term period.
Rather than looking at Facebook as the adversary, consider how to work with their platform. GRM applauds the emphasis on content that will be shared and commented. We have long promoted engagement as a key to building an effective social media program. As with any content or media provider, Facebook wants more relevant and more watched content,
Facebook changes impact both business and personal pages. So, the idea that you can flip to a personal page and avoid the changes is not the case. Further, Facebook limits the followers to a personal page, which is not the case for a business page.
Facebook has not defined how they will prioritize business and news posts into the news feed. “Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content,” said Facebook on 1/11/18. GRM will create a post to advise followers how to set up our clients in their
preferences to ensure they see posts:
- Go to News Feed Preferences on Facebook.com or in the app
- Choose “See First” for the pages you want to see in your news feed
Facebook will prioritize content that generates comments. Within the arena of engagement, comments will now be the gold standard of currency on Facebook. Not likes, shares, or clicks. Comments. When people comment, they typically have been drawn into responding to the community in a more emotive manner. Which means, we want to create content that is fun, interesting, provocative, exciting. Content that is distinctive!
Understanding your audience remains a critical key to success. What do people in your community find interesting and engaging? Ideally, real conversations are created. Within brand voice, remain empathetic, hospitable and a good listener. As with any communications, think first how you would receive it if you were the audience. Use positive and encouraging verbiage as Facebook has been rewarding this for a while.
Live video remains valuable, but only if we are asking engaging questions and people are interacting with it. Otherwise, regardless of format (non-live video, photo, posts), one won’t be favored over the other.
Frequency will not be rewarded. Templated plans that are focused on X posts per day or week will not be successful. Have a reason behind every post (or response). Do not post to check the box that you shared something to Facebook. Instead, be intentional, strategic, and relevant with what you post.
Ads will be more important to generate reach, but they will not overcome lack of well-crafted content. Yes, Facebook is increasingly a ‘pay to play’ platform. But throwing more money behind ads or poorly performing posts shouldn’t be your default solution.
Don’t rely exclusively on Facebook to solve your marketing needs. A social media mix is in order … if for no other reason than to meet your community where they are most engaged. Social media is logically an extension of other marketing actions. Social extends the virtual conversation – allowing feedback, discussion and peer-to-peer interaction – that traditional media does not provide.
The bottom line: Facebook wants people to be social on social media.