COVID-19: Keep Marketing; Ignore the Beast!

COVID-19 “Coronavirus” Impact on the Hospitality Industry

History says: Shut your eyes and keep marketing, despite the beast.

Are we sick of hearing about the Coronavirus, yet? Everyone we know who anticipates a huge drop in revenue as a result of the pandemic is having the same initial response of panic right now. But at The Trades Publishing Company, we are marking this time as a moment to reboot! Very soon this time will pass, and like certain events we’ve lived through in our life, we will always remember and mark these days.

Whether you’re in the front or back of the house, we hope you can turn this into a constructive time of hope and renewal. Particularly if you are in marketing, this is an unusually important, historic time to calm down and put a bad situation to use. This is a time when everyone is watching and listening.

This might be the first time in our entire marketing career that everyone in your audience is aggressively listening — your customers, investors, prospective new hires, EVERYONE. The entire world is listening to every open media channel. If you have the right message, they will not only see it; it will be embedded in their brain along with their memories of these events.

Think of this: According to a March 24, 2020, New York Times report, social traffic and messaging on Facebook has doubled in recent weeks. Another article from SocialBakers shows that between December and March, the average cost per click in North America fell from $0.64 to $0.32! Everyone is sitting at home and clicking like mad! Resort Trades Weekly’s open rate last week increased 126 percent!

What is the right message? It is NOT the normal. For maybe the first time in your marketing career the next two months is when you open the textbooks and re-read the chapters on BRANDING.  OMG, what better time could you ask to permanently brand your image into these people’s heads? The challenge is to get the right message, right now.

What message? Simple to describe; hard to do. You need a simple message that will make everyone in your audience read it and say “I am so glad I do business with these folks” and all the others will say “Damn, why am I not doing business with those people?” You need a simple message of encouragement, enlightenment, and positivity that everyone who sees it will forever remember. THAT IS BRANDING, and we will never in our careers have another time or opportunity like this one!

A terrific example came to us recently from Global Connections, Inc. in an email to their customers, business partners, and other stakeholders. They wrote, “Your words of encouragement and understanding, praises of our employee interactions and the outpouring of shared vacation memories and desires for future vacations with us have been of great comfort and inspiration to our Global family. Thank you. While we’re all adapting to these circumstances, our values of service and family that have been the center of our business for over 20 years, continue to shine bright.” Global recognizes their community is ready for a positive, restorative message after all the gloom-and-doom!

Smile, ‘cause you know I’m right. I know I’m right. In addition to acting as CEO for The Trades Publishing Company, my husband Tim Wilson also develops a specialized retirement community designed for RV enthusiasts, the Gardens RV Village. Our initial reaction was to pull the Facebook marketing ($ 5,000 / mo.). “Nobody is going to be listening; and they damn sure are not going to be touring,” was our early prognosis. We were only half right. They are not going to be touring, but every single one of them is sitting at home or in an empty office scouting out every media channel they can get. That’s why the websites are humming; that’s why the news magazines are being opened; that’s why the time is so right.

But the message must be perfect. It should not be an attempt to sell, but a statement, an image, an insight that will be noticed, and remembered and associated with you forever. This is the best time to build brand loyalty! On behalf of your family at The Trades, we wish you God-speed.

Sharon Scott Wilson is Publisher of Resort Trades and Golf Course Trades magazines.