Holiday 2020 Digital Strategies Start Now

Holiday 2020 Digital Strategies Start Now

By now it is no secret that online shopping exploded during the pandemic. Now called “couch commerce,” consumers stuck at home turned to the Internet to fill pantries, set up home offices (and schools), get fit, and stay entertained.

There’s no indication this trend will abate before the 2020 holiday season. Experts are saying that consumers will congregate around promotions and by Cyber Monday 50% of online holiday shopping will already be completed.

This is the Year of Click-And-Collect

If you aren’t Amazon or Walmart, what are the things you can do to compete? The volume of purchases will put a strain on already busy shipping and fulfillment departments and vendors. Click-and-Collect is going to be a significant opportunity for local brick-and-mortar businesses. Letting customers know that they can avoid shipping delays by buying locally and picking up curbside will become a key holiday message.

Digital advertising is working right now — consumers are online at home on their laptops (vs mobile) in large numbers — direct email advertising to your customer list and retargeting website visitors are expected to deliver the top results.

What products will work with Click-and-Collect? Half of all consumer electronic purchases are now made online, so if you have any nexus products that support digital lives those should be promoted. Apparel (especially those cute outfits for all the summer events we did not attend) will continue to be depressed unless it is leisure and exercise wear. However, pundits have suggested promoting classic comfort and buying before next year’s rush.

Specialty food and alcohol are expected to loom large over house-bound holiday events. As will gift certificates for aspirational gifts.

The early appearance of Prime Day while not necessarily a bump for small businesses is expected to drive product interest across the board and should give you an opportunity to start building holiday purchase retargeting audiences from all those lookie-lous.

Client Spotlight: Dulles Glass’ Online Technology is a Game-Changer during COVID-19

Client Spotlight: Dulles Glass’ Online Technology is a Game-Changer during COVID-19

Ecommerce has grown 44% year-over-year for the second quarter of 2020. According to the US Department of Commerce, we have seen as much online buying in the past eight weeks as we have in the past 10 years.

Some products won the spending lottery right out of the gate, and hand-sanitizer, toilet paper, and antibacterial wipes really cleaned up <pun intended>. Home baking and gardening products surged, along with sewing machines, bicycles, and home office supplies. High demand brought shortages and long waits for delivery.

It created opportunities for some businesses that had both the right product and the ability to pivot.

At Buzzgen Media our clients continue to be in multiple stages of marketing response — endeavoring to plan for ongoing non-opens without hurting the next full launch. We have some rock stars in the pivot and adapt categories and we’d like to share some of their stories.

Dulles Glass & Mirror

Dulles Glass & Mirror in Manassas, VA is one of the largest e-tailers of custom glass online. This is a bit unusual as the construction industry as a whole, and glass manufacturers and sellers, in particular, can still be strongly pen-and-paper based. We all have the image of a contractor who pencils out measurements on graph paper and scratches details in the margin for estimates of our home improvement projects.

Bahram Nasehi took over the business 12 years ago and deeply invested in automation – including maintaining his own technology department. He became the first custom glass retailer online and has recently “changed the world of shower doors” with an app that allows easy measurement and purchase of custom shower doors that are shipped across the US.

Once the pandemic hit, the technology team was tasked with finding products to monetize and bring in revenue. COVID-19 has changed the world of shopping, and as luck would have it, not a lot of glass retailers were online and Nasehi was fully prepared to pivot and cope.

One new product that was launched was the now ubiquitous glass guards that we see in retail and service workplaces. Dulles Glass was designing and building items that were helping to turn essential workplaces into safe environments for customers and employees. Nasehi says that local government programs were key in helping the business launch this product.

“Needless to say, you need a little bit of luck. We were given lemons during the pandemic, but our lemons were fresh and could be squeezed,” Nasehi said. He also noted that other businesses, including some he is involved with, are stalled and won’t be back until after COVID-19.

Dulles Glass has continued its pre-pandemic marketing activities. “Marketing strategy is the window to opportunity in any business. You have to be nimble; you have to be able to shift. You have to go after your opportunities and market them.”

As for the budget, Nasehi said that budget should be based on return. “If I am getting a 6 or 7x return, why would I spend only $100? You leave your budget open until it can’t bring in anymore (revenue),” he said. Staying in the market has had other advantages, with less competition digital campaigns have seen large CPC and cost per lead drops.

During the pandemic, Dulles has experienced a surge in new business leads and a reduction in advertising costs, by as much as 40%.  We attribute this to the fact that many competitors pulled out of the market, thus lowering the media costs and reducing the competition.

Currently, Dulles Glass is re-tooling the glass guard campaigns as restrictions on COVID-19 and pandemic wording is changing (yet again). For a while, publishers were not allowing ads to use words that called out the virus making it particularly difficult for products that were safety-related.

Check out Dulles Glass & Mirror products and offerings, besides showers and custom glass, they offer gym mirrors, shelves, and tabletops, with free shipping nationwide.

Don’t Panic, Pivot

Don’t Panic, Pivot

Pivoting isn’t easy, and it looks very different for every business out there. It is complicated by the fact that we don’t know how long the current environment will remain, nor what the aftermath will look. Pausing, though, could be more damaging in the long run. When you remove yourself from the equation completely that gives your competitors the opportunity to take over your mindshare/marketshare. And getting it back isn’t nearly as easy as giving it up*.

Here are some questions we think will help you construct a pivot for your business. You may be surprised by the insights or breakthroughs that come from answering these questions.

  1. What do your customers need more of right now?
  2. What are you uniquely positioned to offer?
  3. How could you take advantage of technology to make your offering more appealing?
  4. Revisit your buying/selling persona, have they been impacted as well?
  5. If your personas are impacted, how are you responding on your editorial calendar?
  6. Does your pricing structure need to change for a temporary period?
  7. If you had an abundance of resources at your fingertips, what would you do differently during this period?
  8. How could you be using social media and content creation to boost your business right now?
  9. How do you want to be perceived as showing up during this time?
  10. If you need to pause, could you pivot the experience so that you can still deliver, but in a different way?

We would love to hear how you are handling the pivot.

*Footnote: There’s great examples in this  Forbes article

In the 1920’s, Post was the category leader in the ready-to-eat cereal category. During the Great Depression, Post cut back significantly its advertising budget and rival Kellogg’s doubled its advertising spend, investing heavily in radio and introducing a new cereal called Rice Krispies, featuring “Snap,” “Crackle” and “Pop.” Kellogg’s profits grew by 30% and the company became the category leader, a position it has maintained for decades.

Covid19 Social Strategy

Covid19 Social Strategy

The thing we love about social media is that it shows the vast range of things everyone is doing – traveling, cooking, showing off art (whether that’s photography, nail, hair, makeup, music, flowers, etc.), communicating about issues, work environments, and kids and family.

Businesses have been heavily leveraging this effective medium for at least a decade now – if not longer, and in an unprecedented situation, we now are asked to curtail our social activities. It’s #Stay<bleep>TheHome.

What does that mean for industries that are focused on travel, cooking, and art?

The first thing you need to do is think through a yes-no scenario.

Yes, things are going to get better. No, things are getting worse. Though it sounds terrible (and no one likes a Debbie Downer), this allows you to pick and choose content according to what’s happening in an ever-changing landscape. And you don’t get boxed into a one-direction strategy.

We are now almost all on lock-down. The next bad case scenario is that 1) we stay on lockdown much longer than expected 2) People begin behaving badly and martial law gets enacted.

Best possible case scenarios are 1) WFH provides levity and personal opportunity, 2) things resolve quickly, and the economy rebounds.

So, based on that thinking how does your social look?

First, you are posting WAY less. One or two posts a week are going to be sufficient. This is practical since you won’t have new imagery, your staff isn’t readily available, AND brand traffic on social has crashed. No one is really paying a lot of attention to the things they can’t do (like travel).

Examples of best-case scenario posts are:

  • Quick updates on the business – even calling out what some of your employees might be doing remotely.
  • Asking questions – How are you spending your time? What are you working on?
  • Offering a bit of Zen – Are you meditating today? Here’s an image/thought/etc. to add to your positive health. Helping your audience set intentions and push away the anxiety.
  • Letting your customers know you are thinking of them.
  • If you have the opportunity, do something fun like lead guided meditations.
  • Or take a teachable moment – how to do nail art, best massage techniques, cooking from the pantry. YouTube channels are not that hard to set up if you don’t already have one.
  • Bring back the ThrowBack Thursday UGC, and other (more generic) images that are still relevant. Mother Earth is flourishing in our neighborhood.

You should also be doing your social media manually. IF worst-case scenario happens – looting, for example – you don’t want your social to appear frivolously against news of civil unrest.

Sorry to throw that dark cloud out there, but it’s best to think about it in order to be prepared.

The FTC is Watching Your Influencer

The FTC is Watching Your Influencer

It’s a safe bet that every C-Suite denizen has asked their Marketing Director this burning question “what is our influencer strategy?” With today’s constriction of organic growth on social channels celebrity endorsers, big-hitting bloggers, influencers, micro influences and OMG even nano-influencers are sure to make an appearance in your annual marketing plan.

It’s not only your hopeful target audience (or micro audience) watching these carefully crafted selfies, but Big Brother is also paying attention. And they are cracking down on deceptive advertising.

Much like the alcoholic beverage industry where an errant tweet innocently mentioning a sip, swirl, and spit at the wrong place can land you in deep $$, if your influencer is promoting your product or location without mentioning the relationship – they are in violation of the law. Though admittedly there has not been the draconian penalties we have seen imposed by the ABC for violations of tied-house laws. (It’s involved and scary, and if you market alcoholic beverages and aren’t aware of this, brush up fast.)

The FTC states that if there is a “material connection” between an endorser and the marketer of a product that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed.

In sort, are you #ad?

Both brands and influencers are required to follow the FTC recommendations which include up-front-and-center information that clearly shows the relationship – no hiding this in your list of 30 hashtags, and no sending someone to the “more” link. Basically, your post and stories captions should start with “ad,” or a simple [free product], or Thanks {insert brand}. Tagging the business is not enough.

It was reported that in 2019, both Lindsay Lohan and Naomi Campbell received letters from the FTC warning them that publishing posts on their personal feed without “clear and conspicuous disclosure” is breaking the rules.

For videos, infographics, and easy-to-read guidelines, go to: FTC.gov/influencers

What #Sponsorship costs

So now that you know you need to disclose your relationship, what is that relationship actually worth?

The feeding frenzy free-for-all, that was the norm for influencers (spawning a whole new industry of pseudo consumer journalists) has settled into relatively reasonable and regular definitions. There’s a great, in-depth piece written in 2018 on the Cost of Influencer Marketing by Alfred Lua at Buffer. He goes into well-researched detail about what affects cost, and reviews micro-to-celebrity influencer followings, as well as social channels.

It breaks down to:

Instagram – $10 per 1,000 followers; or $250 to $750 per 1,000 engagement

YouTube – $20 per 1,000 subscribers; or $50 to $100 per 1,000 views

Snapchat – $10 per 1,000 followers or $100 per 1,000 views.

Both Twitter and Facebook are not seen as viable influencer channels.

If you want to evaluate on a case-by-case basis, there’s a great Instagram Money Calculator by Influencer Marketing Hub that allows you to enter an influencers name and it will estimate earnings and/or costs per post by that influencer. It also allows you to pit your social against your competition to see what their engagement rates are and an estimated value per post.

As you are crafting your current influencer strategy, these guidelines will help you establish some road rules – such as, the number of posts to request based on pay or trade, and how those posts need to reflect your relationship. Good luck, however, getting the influencer to send you a post campaign report. #myselfielife

Links:

FTC Influencer Guidelines: FTC.gov/influencers

Cost of Influencers: https://buffer.com/resources/influencer-marketing-cost

Instagram Money Calculator: https://influencermarketinghub.com/instagram-money-calculator/

Creating Content that Matters

Creating Content that Matters

Otherwise Known as: Value-Rich Content
As marketers and business people we walk a fine line between explaining our product in a manner that achieves sales, and over-selling our product.

The holy grail of marketing is selling 100 percent of your inventory at retail price. The way to do that is to locate the audience that: wants your product, can use it, and has such a great experience with it that they buy more and tell other people about it.

Finding that audience is a bit like fishing. Where you look are the fishing holes, and what you say is the bait. It’s the bait we want to talk about today.

Keeping a steadfast commitment to providing value-rich content actually starts with your advertising copy and continues through your product delivery. It might sound airy-fairy, but are you enriching someone’s life? When someone clicks on your ad, are you taking them down a path of value?

The Internet is filled with those who shill. (How much time do you waste on click-bait?).

at buZZgen, we call it advertising haiku: an authentic representation of your product in 10 words or less. It’s not easy.

Avoid the potato chips of digital marketing – high volume keywords and ad content with no conversion.

Don’t gratuitously use a competitor’s high-volume trademarked brand name (even though Google lets you).

Avoid baseless emotional pleas – a child will die if you don’t click now; or everyone’s favorite: you should have seen what happened next!

Truthfully, we all know the don’ts. It is the do’s that are a little harder to consistently apply.

Does your ad pass the sniff test? Does it accurately represent your product to your target audience.

Once someone clicks, do they get something of value? Something that enhances their life (and that might not just be the product purchase).

Every business is an expert in something. Are you offering your customer your expertise? Is it easy for them obtain? If you are sending someone to a landing page, besides the conversion is there something on that page (or the Thank You page) that breaks off a little bit of what makes you special and shares it with your audience?

Perhaps that is a white paper, an insight, or a blog. Include something valuable on the autoresponder (selling travel? Maybe it’s the top 10 places to get a hamburger.) Think about it not as an opportunity to continue to sell yourself, but an opportunity to share your knowledge and passion.

At the end of the day, it is what most of us want: an experience that transcends the ordinary; knowledge that helps us grow; an affirmation of community. Your advertising can be the first step in achieving that. Seriously.