h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

July 7, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for your post 4th of July week. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

FINDING A NEW PATH

As I mentioned in my last blog post, there has never been a more important time for customer research. You can’t afford to guess about the future. You need hard data. That’s why we have now launched our syndicated study “Understanding the Consumer in a Covid World.” This survey offers industry specific research: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list, we can provide you with decision making customer data. Email me now to learn more about this super low-cost research.

CAN A VIRTUAL CONFERENCE WORK?

As reported by the New York Times (NYT), many believe that the recent Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference was a bellwether for the future of online event as the coronavirus pandemic makes physical conferences impossible. NYT reported that most attendees said they missed the serendipitous social interactions of in-person conferences, but many praised the sharp production and easier access of this year’s event, which was streamed free for eligible participants. Making things free helps. With a hefty price tag, $1,599 last year, plus travel costs making it free made the event more accessible to programmers overseas and those with tighter budgets. Some said the format was less hectic and noted that one-on-one sessions were more productive because they were able to reach an Apple employee who could help them work out a specific problem or concern.

IS POSITIONING TRICKY?

Yes. Once you learn what your customers think via research, making sure they know where you stand is called positioning – staking out a unique selling propositions (USPs) that will increase your business and keep you in step with your customers. It is not easy and presidential election speeches over the 4th of July provide a case study on positioning.  Now, with four months to go, no poll can tell you who will win the presidential election. But research can tell you the mood of the voter (customer) at this point of time.

PEW research reveals Americans are deeply unhappy with the state of the nation. As we face a pandemic, an economic recession, and protests about police violence and racial justice, only 12% say they are satisfied with the way things are going. The majority, 71%, think the country is going in the wrong direction. But what direction should we be going?

If you listened to President’s Trump 4th of July speeches, while praising peaceful protestors he believes that people think the country is going in the wrong direction because of “the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.” Polls that revealed that 26 million people protested the death of George Floyd (CBS Sunday Morning), his position is that these people our misguided and they want to destroy our history, our cultural icons, our societal privileges, and only Trump has the strengthen to stop these attackers.

On the other hand, the Biden camp, reviewing the same research, decided to position Biden as someone that believes the country is going in the wrong direction because we have not lived up to the promise of our founders. “Our country was founded on an idea: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ We’ve never lived up to it. Jefferson himself didn’t. He held slaves. Women were excluded. But once proposed, it was an idea that couldn’t be restrained. We have a chance to live up to the words that founded this nation.”

What positioning is correct? Only time will tell. But the marketing lesson is clear: you have to listen to your customer, then stake out a position, a brand, and execute a marketing strategy that supports it.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

June 26, 2020

THIS WEEK  – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts as COVID-19 makes a dramatic return (30,000 cases a day). As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

FINDING YOUR PATH

Let’s open up. Let’s get back to normal. Wow, 30,000 cases a day, let’s lockdown, again. What is a business owner to do? There has never been a more important time for customer research. You can’t afford to guess about the future. You need hard data. That’s why we are developing a series of short, industry specific, surveys so you can find out what your customers are thinking about coming back to your business. Each of our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” surveys are focused on a specific segment: lodging, restaurants, destination marketing organizations, etc. If you have a customer email list we can provide you with decision making data.

We plan to launch these surveys in July. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR FREE BETA TEST, JUST EMAIL ME NOW.

IT’S NOT GOING TO BE EASY

One of the reasons we are launching our ““Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” study is that the marketing landscape has never been more challenging. This is readily evident looking at national TV spots. Sad piano music is out, and turning on the lights is in. Clydesdales gallop, and bars with neon “Open” signs are featured in Budweiser’s newest ad. It concludes, “Buds are back.” Of course, Texas just closed bars again. “The phase we’re in now is a phase of euphoria,” as Bud’s chief marketing officer stated. “People who are tired of being locked down see an opportunity to resume elements of normal life.” But is that still true? The unity that largely marked the early stage of the pandemic has given way to divisions around numerous issues. Janet Balis of Ernst & Young, believes that “brands need to be even more careful than at the beginning of the crisis.” And that is why being a part of our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World study may be one key to your survival.

GOOGLE TAKES A HIT

If you think you can resume your social media marketing, as usual, think again. Major advertisers are cutting back. That’s one reason Google’s U.S. ad revenue will decline this year. Their money-printing machine, overall ad revenue, has seen double-digit growth in its two-decade existence, except for the 2008-09 financial crisis. What’s different this time? Many consumers are cutting and shifting their use of social media. Why? That is one of the questions we are asking in our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” survey.

PAYING FOR CONVENIENCE

Thousands of small businesses use the payment service Square for credit cards. That’s why this news item caught my eye. The company is now holding back up to 30% of the money they collect. Square, which is led by the Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, says the reserves are meant to protect consumers who may ask for refunds. Don’t believe Jack. My bet is that they are shielding their own struggling bottom line. So that begs a question. Are U.S. businesses going to join the worldwide trend of charging for credit? Having recently returned from Australia/New Zealand, if you use a credit card down under, you pay extra for it.

Why should struggling small businesses, who are being forced to use credit cards more in coronavirus protection protocol, pay banks and others (like Square) for your convenience? Will customers accept this extra charge? That is one of the questions we ask on our “Understanding the Consumer in a COVID World” survey.

Bottom Line: Knowing what your customers think about living and working in a post Covid world is critical to your long-term survival. Email me now to learn more about our survey.

Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, stay positive.

h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

June 13, 2020

THIS WEEK – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts as COVID-19 begins to make a comeback into our lives. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

EVENTS CREATE PUBLIC OPINION

That is one of the basic tenets of public relations. The public really doesn’t have an “opinion” until an event creates one. That is why the remarkable events over the past few weeks have dramatically shifted social attitudes. As David Brooks pointed on PBS (June12th), “If you ask people, do you support the Black Lives Matter, most people said no. And now, by 29 points, they say yes. If you ask people, what do you fear more, police violence or the violence of the rioting and looting, they say, I fear police violence more by 2-1. If you ask people, are black people treated unfairly and abused unfairly by the police, after Eric Garner was killed in 2014, only 33% said that. Now 58% say that.”

A current PEW Research Study shows that Americans have been following news of George Floyd’s death and the demonstrations nearly as closely as COVID-19 news, and many are discussing it frequently with others. Six-in-ten say President Trump’s message in response to the protests has been wrong, while 57% say news organizations have done a “good” or “excellent” job covering the protests.

Why does all this matter when it comes to marketing your business? Because it shows the importance of constantly listening to your customers. Being aware of shifting attitudes. I think customer listening is more important than ever. Unfortunately, few business took the lockdown period as a research opportunity to listen to their customers. Your customers were stuck at home, with little to do, and wanted to hear from you. They wanted to share their opinions. We know this, because we conducted research in this period and that is what they told us. They also provided some feedback that is changing how our clients reopen. Now, it is not too late to listen. Make reaching out to your customers a goal for June. Contact us if we can help.

UPSIDE DOWN BUSINESS MODELS

Now that businesses are reopening, most are facing a nasty truth: Their current business model may not work in a post COVID-19 world. And this may require massive investments in changing your environment or services. Case in point, Starbucks is building drive-through stores and to-go only locations faster. It is going take roll these out in 12 to 18 months, instead of three to five years, Starbucks said. The company is also rolling out ads encouraging customers to order ahead through its app. Homework for next week: Bring your team together and see what you have to do to survive long-term.

UNMASKING THE TRUTH

The debate over “to mask or not to mask” lead me to this research. The Washington Post reported that Italian Massimo Marchiori, a professor at the University of Padua, has done one of the first studies on the impact of a mask on social behavior. “Everyone talks about social distancing,” Marchiori said, “but no one had actually measured actual social distancing.” His findings suggest that wearing masks has a profound effect on how we perceive others, and in particular how close we are willing to get to strangers.

Unmasked, Marchiori found that fellow pedestrians actually drew closer to him as he passed them on a sidewalk, typically within a foot. But when he donned a mask, people drifted back — nearly twice as far as when he wasn’t wearing a mask — suggesting the mere sight of protective gear activated the underlying knowledge among pedestrians that keeping their distance helped keep them safe. In other words, masks appeared to make an extremely social species less social — and less vulnerable. “It’s our humanity that is actually bringing us toward the virus,” said Marchiori. “You have to take away a bit of humanity, to become a bit antisocial, to protect humanity.”

THE SECRET AMAZON ADVANTAGE

If you are marketing online, you can’t ignore the power of Google and Amazon. Google continues to dominate online search. And Amazon controls online buying. Period. That’s why it is very disturbing that Amazon takes advantage of third-party sellers. Finally, someone is doing something about this, but not in America.

The European Union plans to file formal antitrust charges against Amazon over stealing data from third-party sellers and using it to compete against them by launching similar products. A Wall Street Journal investigation published in April found that employees at the online retailer at times used data from other sellers to develop competing products.

Until next time, stay safe, stay health, stay positive.

h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

June 5, 2020

THIS WEEK – Here are some marketing tips and research thoughts for a post COVID-19 World. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

COMING TO A TV NEAR YOU

People are increasingly using TV sets to watch YouTube. Most smart TV’s offer this option. Now, YouTube wants you (advertisers) to spend more money to reach these people. They want a bigger piece of the traditional TV and streaming ad budget. But it’s not going to be easy according to a story by Wall St. Journal’s Sahil Patel (CMO Today). “Their soul is social media with user-generated video online… becoming a TV platform requires a lot of field work in curating the content and really defining the audiences you’re curating this content for.” Stay tuned.

A DIFFERENT TAKE ON FAMILY

If you market to families, listen up. As the oldest Millennials turn 39 this year, they are taking a different path in forming – or not forming – families of their own. According Pew Research, they are less likely to be married, have children, and live in a family, compared to previous generations at the same stage in life. Those who do get married or have children are doing so later in life. Here’s some other family facts from Pew:

Only 44% of Millennials are married, compared with 53% of Gen Xers, 61% of Boomers and 81% of Silents at a comparable age.

Overall, marriage rates have declined since 1970, and the sharpest declines have been amongst the least educated adults.

Intermarriage rates are higher for Millennials than any other generation across all racial and ethnic groups. The rate of intermarriage among black Millennials is nearly twice as high as that of black Gen Xers at a comparable age (18% vs. 10%).

CHANGING VIEW ON RACISM

One of the research themes I share often: research is a snapshot in time. So, in light of this week’s Black Lives Matter protests, it is interesting to note how quickly America’s view of racism is changing.

In two separate polls this week, 57% of Americans said the police were more likely to mistreat black people than white people, far more than ever before on record. In both polls, about half of white Americans said so — a stark jump. In 2016, shortly after the killing of Alton Sterling, just 34% said officers were more likely to use force against a black person, including only 25% of white people, according to a Monmouth University survey. In the poll that Monmouth released this week, three-quarters of all Americans said that racial discrimination was a “big problem” in the United States — 17% points higher than in 2015 — and 78% said the anger that led to the current protests was at least somewhat justified.

FACT-CHECKING, NOT EASY

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order aimed at discouraging social media companies from censoring posts. But in a 2018 survey, 56% of Americans said tech companies should take steps to restrict false information online, even if it limits freedom of information.

About seven-in-ten Americans (72%) said in another 2018 survey that it is somewhat or very likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints they find objectionable. In the same survey, 43% said major technology companies support the views of liberals over conservatives, while 11% said they support the views of conservatives over liberals.

Half of U.S. adults believe fact-checking websites are fair. But 48% said they tend to favor one side. Democrats (69%) said they fairly with all sides. Republicans (70%) said they tend to favor one side.

Ok, enjoy getting out of the house… looks like we are making some progress on controlling COVID-19.

h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

May 29, 2020

THIS WEEK – As businesses reopen, here are some marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

UNCOMFORTABLE RESEARCH

Can research tell you something you don’t want to hear? Yes, it happens all the time. Take the case of a recent Facebook Study that showed that the company’s algorithms weren’t bringing people together. They were driving people apart. As reported in the Wall Street Journal: “Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” read a slide from a 2018 presentation. “If left unchecked,” it warned, Facebook would feed users “more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.” That presentation went to the heart of a question dogging Facebook almost since its founding: Does its platform aggravate polarization and tribal behavior? The answer it found, in some cases, was yes.”

Executives largely shelved the basic research, according to previously unreported internal documents and people familiar with the effort and weakened or blocked efforts to apply its conclusions to Facebook products. Why? Divisive content is good for business. It builds engagement (time on the site) even it is bad for society. Marketing lesson here: Self-interest is the real interest in society today.

MORE WAYS SPEND AD DOLLARS

People have been using Instagram to build their brands and businesses for years. Influencers often make deals with companies to create sponsored posts or set up revenue sharing to recommend specific products. Unlike YouTube, Instagram has never put its content creators on the payroll, until now.

Instagram has now announced two new ways for users with “creator” accounts to make money: ads on IGTV (Instagram TV) and badges for Instagram Live. Instagram will split the revenue, with at least 55 percent going to creators. The company will also give fans the chance to sponsor their favorite creators and businesses with paid “badges” on Instagram Live videos, which cost less than $5 and place a small heart-shaped icon next to their name. Instagram is testing right now.

ANOTHER VIRUS VICTIM

News Corp (they own the Wall St. Journal) will stop printing more than 100 Australian newspapers, closing 36 outright and moving the rest 100% online, citing media shifts accelerated by the pandemic. The New York-based media company said 76 local and regional newspapers in Australia would become online only, with 36 closing altogether. There is no question that the stay at home order has increased internet media viewing and decreased print advertisers. Another sign of the times, Wall Street Journal now has 3 million total subscribers, a record—more than 2.2 million of whom are digital-only subscribers.

ANOTHER ACRONYM

When I was in the Navy, I thought the military had a corner on abbreviations and acronyms – shortened forms of words and phrases.. But keeping up with marketing today continually adds new ones. How about OTT? That stands for “over-the-top” media – delivering media over the internet, bypassing cable, broadband and satellite platforms. Think Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, Hulu and others. It is the fastest growing media option today. Many research studies are showing that OTT viewing is changing due to the growth of services, content, and devices as well as the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on consumer behavior. Marketing takeaway: the ability to reach consumers is changing rapidly. You need to keep up.

h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

May 21, 2020

THIS WEEK – As businesses begin to reopen and the “mask or no mask” debate fills social media with angry posts, here are some marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

ONLINE ORDERING FOR ALL

There are literally millions of winners and losers in the COVID-19 world. Many big-time retails have declared bankruptcy (J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, Pier I), while others (Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and Lowe’s) have seen a sales surge by staying open and shifting more to online ordering and curbside pick-up. But most small businesses are not players in this world.

Facebook is trying to change this with a new program called Shops that lets businesses quickly set up storefronts on Facebook and Instagram. “It’s clear at this point that Covid isn’t just a health emergency,” states Facebook CEO Zuckerberg. “It’s also the biggest economic shock that we’ve felt in our lifetime.” The new virtual shops will appear on the businesses’ Facebook and Instagram accounts and, eventually, on the Messenger and WhatsApp messaging tools. The Facebook move is being powered by its partnership with Shopify.

There are two ways to sell on Facebook:

1) Use Facebook’s platform itself to create your Facebook Store, list products, and set up a shopping cart to connect payments. It is easy and simple.

2) Use an ecommerce website builder (like Shopify that charges a monthly fee) to create an online store, then link your products to your Facebook Store page. This is this is a pretty good blog on the ends and outs of how to do start selling online, CLICK HERE. https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/building-online-stores/how-to-set-up-a-facebook-store/

STATISTICS DO LIE

Did you hear about the booming air travel industry? It is up 123% in just the last month! Technically, that is an accurate number. Over the seven days ended May 17, an average of 212,580 people went through U.S. airports, up from 95,161 in April. Of course, this time a year ago, 2.4 million people a day were flying. The point? Get ready for the same effect to apply to all sorts of numbers — most notably with economic data. These swings are artifacts of the arithmetic of percentage change. But if you are not attuned to the yo-yo effect that you will see in crucial data in the coming months, you could get mislead on what is really happening. That is why doing your own research is critical (we can help). You simply cannot trust national, regional, or even state figures to give you a clear picture of the challenges you are facing in reopening.

GENERATION Z IS…

Born after 1996, most members of Generation Z are not yet old enough to vote. But as the oldest among them turn 23 this year, roughly 24 million will have the opportunity to vote in November. And they are certainly old enough to buy things. So, what makes this generation different? PEW Research has looked at this group. First, unlike the Millennials – who came of age during the Great Recession – this new generation was in line to inherit a strong economy with record-low unemployment. That has all changed. Instead of looking ahead to a world of opportunities, Gen Z now peers into an uncertain future. PEW points out that there are already signs that the oldest Gen Zers have been particularly hard hit in the early weeks and months of the coronavirus crisis.

Members of Gen Z are also more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation, and they are on track to be the most well-educated generation yet. They are also digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones. Still, when it comes to their views on key social and policy issues, they look very much like Millennials. Here is a link to the PEW Study if you are interested in learning more. CLICK HERE.

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

In my book Powershift Marketing, I stated, “What you say is more important than where you say it.” That advice came out of my frustration when a client was spending far more time debating media choices than ad creative. The best way to leverage (optimize) your ad budget, is simply to to write a better ad! This is especially true with the cluttered world of Facebook. That is why I found a recent post “The 5-Step Process HubSpot Uses to Optimize Facebook Advertising Costs,” a great 12-minute read. HubSpot is a top rated online marketer and their tips were excellent. The post covers everything from bid strategy, targeting, plus creative. Here are a couple of their creative recommendations that I thought were really good.

Blend Into The News Feed – News feeds are filled with posts from friends and family, especially after Facebook’s latest algorithm update. To avoid screaming “I’m an ad”, include a photo that actually looks natural. Stop using stock photos or super high quality photos. Look natural, look real.

Pique Your Audience’s Curiosity – We are biologically driven to investigate our world, rather than respond to it. And if you can evoke enough curiosity in your audience so they cannot help but satisfy it, they will click on your ad.

Sell A Feeling, Not A Product – Emotions drive our behavior, while logic justifies our actions after the fact. Marketing confirms this theory — humans associate the same personality traits with brands as they do with people. Choosing between two alternatives is like choosing your best friend or significant other. The people we decide to live our lives with make us feel something.

Here’s the full post CLICK HERE.

h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

May 15, 2020

THIS WEEK OPENING UP – As many continue to shelter at home while businesses begin to reopen, here are a few more marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

TRACKING SUCCESS

The most important part of any online ad is the call to action: the URL link to your website. But do you really know how many people clicked on your link? You can look at Google Analytics referral log, but it is not real accurate. The best way to track is to add a UTM code. Known as UTM parameters or tracking tags, this code is added to your existing URL, making each URL unique and trackable. Unfortunately, few businesses use this tool. Not sure why. It’s easy to set up. Here’s info on how from one of my favorite marketing blogs: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/what-are-utm-tracking-codes-ht

THE BIG DOG

If you are in marketing, this is BIG NEWS. Millennials have finally surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Last year (July 2019) Millennials, defined as ages 23 to 38, numbered 72.1 million, and Boomers (ages 55 to 73) numbered 71.6 million. Generation X (ages 39 to 54) numbered 65.2 million and is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028. For an industry that for more than 50 years as focused on Baby Boomers, this is big news. In our visitor research, we are also seeing Baby Boomers becoming far less important than younger travelers.

I NEED A NEWS BREAK

A PEW study reveals that seven-in-ten of us need to a break from COVID-19 news. Many (43%) say that say keeping up with coronavirus news makes them feel worse emotionally. In addition, half say they find it difficult to sift through what is true and what is not. But Americans continue focusing on national and local news: 61% say they pay about equal attention to news at both levels.

THE C WORD

Not surprising, but “Coronavirus” is now the keyword blocked by online advertisers, having overtaken “Trump,” according to brand-safety firm Integral Ad Science. The targeted keyword blocking makes it even harder for publishers to sell ads at a time when many companies are pulling back ad spending to cut costs during the crisis.

CAN ONLINE MEDIA EVER MAKE A DIME?

I suspect I am one of thousands that just decided to subscribe to the New York Times for a few dollars a month (far cheaper than subscribing to my local paper). So, it does not surprise me that paper has recorded its biggest quarterly increase in digital subscriptions ever. Unfortunately, ad revenue is still going down. But Times CEO Mark Thompson is hopeful. “With its growing focus on digital subscription growth and diminishing reliance on advertising, the paper is very well positioned to ride out this storm and thrive in a post-pandemic world.” Well, that remains to be seen. No online media has found the business model that works.

WHO’S JOB IS IT TO CONNECT?

According to a recent PEW Research study, roughly half of us say the internet has been essential during the pandemic, while another 34% describe it as “important, but not essential.” Amid rekindled debates about the digital divide, more than six-in-ten Americans say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to ensure that all Americans have cellphone services or a high-speed internet connection at home during the outbreak.

h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

May 8, 2020

THIS WEEK AT HOME – As many of us continue to shelter at home, here are a few more marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

ARE YOU READY TO REOPEN?

What reopening challenges will you be facing? Will people feel secure in going into your business? Many of these questions can be answered by research. It may seem counterintuitive, but this is a great time to do online research. People are home, bored, online a lot, and have the time to share their opinions. We are exploring many of these issues right now with studies we are doing for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). Contact me if you have interest in your own study.

HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW

Numerous research studies are showing a major change in consumer media habits due to the COVID-19 lockdown. There has been a major increase in viewing online news and local broadcast TV. Increased demands on streaming services have led YouTube and Netflix, among others, to reduce video quality in an effort to reduce bandwidth usage. Whether these habits are long-lasting or temporary remains to be seen. Do not assume these habits will remain once the world opens up. Old media habits are hard to break.

WILL YOUR BEST CUSTOMERS RETURN?

As someone that helped create the first frequent flyer program, I want to urge you to protect and reach out to your frequent user members if you have a program. With airline travel down 95% or more, many airlines and hotels are giving members an extra year to accumulate the points that result in free upgrades, breakfasts, club access and other perks. Delta, American, Southwest, United and Alaska Airlines have all announced status extensions into 2022.

Major hotel companies are also ensuring their most valuable customers keep their perks. Hilton Honors elite status is extended through March 2022; Marriott Bonvoy through February 2022; and World of Hyatt’s tier membership is extended through February 2022. The companies are also delaying the expiration of earned rewards — like suite upgrades, club access and free-night certificates — to the end of 2021.

So, if you have a program, what are you doing to make sure your most loyal customers still see value in your program and will return once it is safe? Definitely worth a discuss and a plan.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS

One sign of Americans’ anxiety about the virus: Even in some states that have started to reopen, many people have said, in effect, no thanks. In Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, and South Carolina — all states that have removed some restrictions — there has been little increase in the number of small businesses that are open or the amount of time people spend at work, according to an analysis by economists. Consumer spending has risen, but not by much more than in states that remain shut down. Mental health will be far more difficult to rebuilt than physical health.

NO SURPRISE HERE

The sharing economy—sharing cars, homes, and anything else you can think of – is not faring well in the pandemic. Uber is planning $1 billion in cost cuts, including reducing marketing and cutting staff 14%. Lyft’s cost-cutting efforts will lower expenses $300 million this year. And home sharing services (VRBO, Air b&b, HomeAway, etc.) are all looking at months before they are acceptable to virus concerned travelers.

Stay Safe. Stay Health. Stay Positive.

h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

April 28, 2020

THIS WEEK AT HOME – As many of us continue to shelter at home, here are a few more marketing tips and research thoughts. As always, contact me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover.

GOOD TIME FOR RESEARCH?

It may seem counterintuitive, but this is a great time to do online research. People are home, bored, using the internet a lot, and have plenty of time to share their opinions. Here are three more reasons you should be doing research right now:

REMIND PEOPLE YOU ARE ALIVE AND WELL – Let your people know that even during this time of social distancing you are thinking of them… that you care about their safety and look forward to their return.

SHARE A POSITIVE MESSAGE WHEN PEOPLE NEED IT THE MOST – Reassure everyone that even during this period, you are preparing to welcome them back. A survey is a nice way to invite them to tell you more about how you can do a better job of meeting their needs in the future.

STRENGTHEN BRAND LOYALTY – People love to talk about themselves. That is why customer surveys increase engagement and loyalty. By telling people they have value by asking for their opinions is a great way to build your brand.

We are doing several studies right now. We are gaining some great insight into post COVID-19 behavior. Contact me if you would like to explore conducting research. It is cheaper than you think.

ZOOMING IN ON COMPETITION

Family and friends have made Zoom a household word. The video communications firm has seen their usage go from 10 million to 200 million. Yes, they have experienced a host of video quality and security issues (Zoombombing), but their stock price is up 142%. It is no wonder that the elephants in the room have made them a target. Last Friday, Facebook announced a new service called Rooms that would let their 1.6 billion daily users run video gatherings for up to 50 people. Google has added a new viewing option for its Meet service that mimics Zoom’s popular Gallery View (pictures of everyone in the group chat). And Microsoft is adding new video capabilities to its Teams platform. I predict that video connecting will decline a bit once we are open, but it will become a part of our new normal. So, ask your kids how to use it!

THE NATIVES ARE RESTLESS

Native ads are ads that look like stories. I recommend them often to clients. The internet’s two largest content-recommendation firms, Taboola and Outbrain, both generate “promoted stories” and “around the web” sections that appear next to articles and videos online, including sponsored content and native ads. They typically use click baiting headlines like “The Best Way to Stop a Barking Dog (It’s Genius)” and “She Had No Clue Why the Crowd Started Cheering.” The Justice Department is now examining whether a deal to merge the two will hurt competition in a product that generates significant revenue to publishers and ads that marketers use because they have a much higher click thru rate than banner ads. Stay tuned. The world of native ads is about to change dramatically.

NOT IN THE SAME BOAT

Its popular today for COVID-19 marketing to echo the message, “We all in the same boat.” Not true. Yes, we are in the same storm, but every boat is different. If you are a retiree, your boat is pretty much the same as it was before the lock down (assuming you have time for your portfolio to bounce back). If you are in the 1% boat, you are fine too. America’s billionaires have increased their wealth in less than a month by $282 billion. But if you are in the lower-income boat, PEW Research reports that roughly half in this boat report that they or someone in their household has lost a job or taken a pay cut, compared with 43% of all U.S. adults. And only 23% say they have emergency funds that would keep their lower-income boat afloat for three months. So be kind, there many be a lot of people that are in boats not has shipshape as yours.

h1

POWERSHIFT MARKETING THIS WEEK

April 21, 2020

THIS WEEK – There is nothing like staying home to find more time to write! So, I am back after a six month break. Wow, how the world has changed. As various guidelines are released for getting the country back to work, now is the time to explore what you need to do to regain marketing strength and restore your business in a post COVID-19 world. I shared the following thoughts with my partners in my cooperative marketing program, Crater Lake Country. While they are focused on the visitor industry, they are universal.

TAKE ACTION NOW

Customers have a very short attention span. It has been 30+ days since the public has been told to “stay home, stay safe.” In marketing terms, that is a lifetime. What have you done during this period to maintain top of mind awareness; to keep current and future customers engaged? Fix it now.

STAY POSITIVE – There is plenty of negativity in the world today. You need to keep your message 100% positive by sharing public service information, good wishes for people to stay healthy, and what you and your employees are doing for the community during this difficult time.

  • Increase your use of Facebook and other organic channels (like your blog) to leverage your exposure.
  • Continue to post YouTube videos, Instagram updates, and photos and stories on social media.

KEEP YOUR WEBSITE UP-TO-DATE

It is easy to think of your website as just an online brochure. It’s not. It can be a dynamic marketing tool that can share current realities. Unfortunately, few companies use it that way.

On your website share the latest information as well as any details on what is open. Your site must continue to be a trusted source for information and travel inspiration.

PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU – HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing resource, is currently reporting data from their 70,000+ client companies to understand what people are looking for in this crisis. Their most recent update (last week) revealed that:

People are seeking out and interacting online far more today than a month ago. While this certainly reflects the moving of more transactions online, it also shows that for now, people are still looking to engage. If you have a message to share, look for websites and organic online channels to share it.

COOPERATIVE EFFORTS ARE IMPORTANT

Look for partners that can help spread your message and reduce your costs. The best way to make your money go farther is to spend someone else’s money. There are plenty of cooperative campaigns and resources to help you market. Reach out now.

CONTINUE EMAIL MARKETING

Yes, maintain an active email marketing program. But be careful not to sound self-serving by only dialing up deals (promotions and discounts) – an approach that may look insensitive. Instead, focus on nurturing long-term relationships. Look for ways you can help your customers today, without asking for anything in return.

Again, people want to hear from you. HubSpot data reveals that the percentage of people that open a business email (open rate) has increased. People want to stay informed, but they may not want to buy right now. You need to share positive messages that things are going to get better.

EMPATHY IS MARKETING

Way before COVID-19, many marketing leaders have been urging a brand message shift to customer empathy. If you are not already on the empathy bandwagon, you are late. Showing empathy and concern for your customers will be critical in a post COVID-19 world.

Need help understanding how you can make your team more empathetic? There’s plenty of help online. This Inc.com story (click here: https://www.inc.com/marc-lore/the-4-things-every-leader-needs-to-know-about-empathy.html) and this Tim Cook presentation (click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3nFe7EpWAY) are excellent introductions into the role of empathy in marketing. Watch and listen, then act.

DISCOUNTS ARE A TWO EDGED SWORD

The public will be expecting discounts. A good portion of them may be hurting financially, so they will need discounts. That said, those who discount may take longer to recoup their lost income and it might be difficult to reestablish normal rates. If possible, don’t discount basic pricing. This will lower the quality perception of your brand and make it harder to return to pre-COVID-19 rates. Instead, promote offers that seem driven by longer stays, stays on specific days, rewards to returning customers, and other discounts that do not appear to be COVID-19 related.

CONSERVE RESOURCES

There will be a rush to advertise immediately to meet perceived pent up demand. Media outlets will be offering special deals. But don’t spend all your marketing dollars immediately. Develop a six-month marketing strategy.

DCG Research, which is currently conducting a DMO study, has discovered that it may take months before people feel safe again. While 3 out of 4 respondents say they are eager to travel, few plan to travel within the next 30 days because they are unsure of what they can expect.

DEMONSTRATE A DIFFERENT APPROACH

Business as usual will not return. COVID-19 has changed the rules of customer interaction. You must demonstrate this reality when you reopen your business.

  • How are you going to change your business practices to give customers a greater sense of health security and confidence?
  • How are you going to visually demonstrate these changes? Customers will increasingly demand that they see actual physical changes reflecting your concern for their safety.

LAUNCH FRONTLINE STAFF RE-TRAINING

Again, business as usual will not return. Not only do you need to make sure your staff feels safe in serving the public, they need to fully understand the systems you have installed to make your customers feel safe too. Start re-training now.

Stay safe, stay home, stay positive!