These are challenging times for us all and especially for event venues, bars and restaurants. As the uncertainty and impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve, businesses in the hospitality industry need to assess the situation and their business and marketing strategy. To help those working in some of the industries that have been hardest hit financially, we spoke to Vaishali Shah, Founder & Creative Director of Creative ID as she shares some insight on how you can take care of your business and prepare for once all the madness has passed.
“Some of my clients have already taken the very difficult decision to close their venues/bars/restaurants. The safety and wellbeing of customers, staff and the communities in which they operate, is paramount.
“This is an important time to continue with your marketing and be visible. The temptation may be to hibernate and bury one’s head in the sand but your business needs eyeballs now more than ever. There are still things that businesses can be doing right now.
“This is the time to maintain your marketing and marketing spend. It is well documented that brands that increase advertising during an economic downturn and uncertainty, when competitors are cutting back, can improve market share and return on investment at a lower cost than during good economic times. Businesses need to emerge strong after the downturn.”
Explore Vaishali’s top tips on how to improve and work on your marketing strategies during this downtime.
Keep showing up (on social media)
Keep posting on social media to keep visible as this can be done from home (especially if you have staff on your payroll and looking for tasks for them). If you have a following on social media, this is a time to engage with your followers and focus on your existing customers.
Look at your digital presence
Many businesses at this time are taking their businesses online as physical premises are closed. Nurture your mailing list and keep in touch with your audience via newsletters. Digital marketing is a well accepted low cost, high return marketing strategy which can be measured. You could update your website with new images, for example from recent wedding and corporate events or your latest dishes or cocktails, which you may not have had time to do so.
Data is key
Review your Google Analytics data to better understand your customer so that your marketing can be targeted correctly. Look objectively at where you have been spending your marketing budget and analyse what kind of return you have been getting. Determine which activities have worked and what has not, so that you know what you need to focus on – e.g. SEO, Facebook advertising, print advertising etc.
Speak to your past customers
Focus on your existing customers now and they will remember and reward you later. Have you asked your customers for recommendations and reviews? Use this quiet time to ask them so that you can include this in your marketing going forward. Use this time to communicate with your customers, using your database/email list. Could you share some of your recipes with them e.g. food and drink? Interesting facts about your key ingredients e.g. herbs and spices or cocktail recipes. More and more people are at home, wondering how to fill their time – so these recipes would be very well received and will make your customers remember you.
Take a step back to look at your brand
It is key to build and maintain your brand now. Your brand is so much more than your logo. It is the whole experience; an overall strategy that encapsulates, among other aspects, the mission statement, company culture, customer service, tone of voice, website, messages on social media, visuals, as well as logo. Does anything need to be amended for your target audience/ideal client?
Look at your branding. A strong brand promotes recognition, it helps set you apart from the competition, it tells people about your business DNA, it generates referrals and provides your business value
Look at your 2020 and 2021 goals
This situation will not last forever so businesses need to be ready for when the situation improves. Continue to monitor this ever-changing situation and keep your customers/staff/suppliers up to date with your developments.
Most importantly stay safe and healthy and look after yourselves and your loved ones.
For more advice on how you can support your own business and others, take a look at list of easy ways to show support during Covid-19.