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Global Marketing

Influencer Marketing in Today’s Climate

As discussed in a previous blog post, influencer marketing is one of the hottest growth areas in the field. Some speculated that consumers would get sick of the new fad and a “social recession” would follow.

With the pandemic, companies are looking for areas to save and marketing tends to be an area evaluated. From February to March, brand spending on Instagram influencers fell 24%. Furthermore, sponsored posts are down 85% on Instagram and 57% on Facebook. Beyond budget cuts, some companies have been criticized for being tone-death having influencers promote their lavish product during a pandemic, which coined the new phrase “pandemic shaming”.

There’s a reason why influencer marketing is a hot topic, the cost savings and effectiveness are game-changers (See my previous post “Influencer Marketing: The Next-Gen Marketing Approach”). In times of crisis, companies should do even more influencer marketing if they can. Below are some reasons why influencer marketing is the way of the future even during a pandemic.

Homebound

With many consumers stuck at home, this raises the potential reach of an influencer. As people adapt to life at home, many are using new forms of content. While TV production is down, streaming services, social media, and YouTube are becoming suitable alternatives. With everyone at home, it can be difficult for a company to put out new content. Influencers again can solve this issue, most are equipped with home studios making it easy to put out new content with the validation of a company.

Unique

Today, most advertisements revolve around a central theme of togetherness and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s as if large corporations are checking off criteria on what needs to be conveyed in a 30-second ad. This creates a sense of standardization in media. I grew tired of these ads after the first week (See my post on “Content Marketing” during COVID-19). Months have past and commercials remain the same. The benefit of influencer marketing is that it is unique. Brands can be creative and form a sense of community around an influencer.

Responsiveness

Another issue with generic commercial responses is that they rarely address a solution to help you in this time of need. Instead, it is recommended that a company monitors frequently asked questions about your company or industry. An influencer can quickly turn these questions into solutions that can be helpful and build loyalty.

Examples of Influencer Power during COVID-19

RB’s Dettol #HandWashChallenge | 18 Billion Views

P&G #DistanceDance | 15 Billion Views

L’Oreal & NYX #ButterGlossPop | 9 Billion Views

Conclusion

Influencer marketing is here to stay. It enables companies to be flexible and creative during this uncertain time. Influencers are inexpensive and can provide a unique and timely message to your customer base. Lastly, please let me know in the comments how TikTok works, it appears to be the next promising influencer channel and I do not understand it at all. 

Categories
Global Marketing

Marketing Preparation after COVID-19: Hotels

COVID-19 has impacted businesses across the world, and marketing as we know it will never be the same. Some industries have hurt more than others. The hotel industry is a prime example, with many of the industry leaders closing doors indefinitely. Although this post pertains to hotels, other industries can benefit from being active during a time of zero customers.

Historical data and research show that companies who remain active during a crisis experience higher sales and net income than those that shut down. What does active mean exactly? An active company is one that “actively prepares” for life after COVID-19. For hotels, this could mean a handful of things. For example, many industry experts believe “staycations” will become increasingly popular. Instead of flying on a plane to a vacation destination, people will prefer to drive to a closer spot. Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority president Carol Chaplin has already altered the organizations marketing efforts to target Californians, and bordering states like Nevada and Arizona. Others are using COVID-19 to promote how clean and safe their hotels will be. Hilton recently partnered with Lysol. An anonymous source that works in the industry said, “…instead of keeping sanitization and cleaning on the back end, these tasks will be performed in a more visible way to the clients.” An example of this is sanitization throughout hotels and even the comeback of elevator operators. Additionally, hotelmanagement.net identifies 11 ways that hotel marketers can prepare during the downtime. One again, this can apply to other service-based industries as well. I’ll highlight some of the important steps.

Audit Your Marketing Assets

How can you prepare for tomorrow when you do not know what you have today? What auditing your marketing assets does is help keep an inventory or log of all of your current marketing efforts. Doing so can help identify the most effective channels to market through.

Record Videos Today for Social Media Use in the Future | Brand Photoshoot and Video

This is a no brainer. Whether your hotel is large or small, you rarely have an empty hotel at your disposal. Take advantage of the space and bring a photographer in to capture content that normally wouldn’t be available.

Prepare for after the pandemic by creating content promoting your company’s brand. The sense of community is at an all-time low, help connect others by creating a community of your own.

Interview Customers and Employees

Being stuck at home, customers and employees alike have more time on their hands than ever before. What better time to ask for feedback on areas that the company can improve on. Record feedback today to better equip decision-makers post-pandemic.

Plan Webinars or Make a “Frequently Asked Questions” Video

If customer service receives the same questions, it might be time to make a FAQ page or video. Additionally, many companies have a separate COVID-19 FAQ page explaining the impacts and responses of the pandemic.

Improve Your Online Reviews Strategy

If you are not utilizing online reviews then now might be a good time to start. Many companies display reviews on the front of their websites in to create a word-of-mouth affect. Instead of being defensive to reviews, now is a good time to use them in your favor.

Evaluate and Enhance Your Digital Marketing | Do a Deep Dive into Your First-Party Data

The pandemic has shown the importance of digital marketing. If your company is behind on the new trend, now is a good time to automate and test it. Digital marketing is cheaper and faster and can target a specific group of interest.

Update Your Hotel’s “Google My Business” for Customers | Update Your Website

Similar to the COVID-19 FAQs update, this point just makes sure all your information is up to date and responsive to COVID. Some companies are losing customers as they are confused about operations. Be proactive and transparent to ensure your consumers and suppliers know what is going on.

Has your company done any preparations for marketing after COVID-19? What aspects of your industry are bound to change? Let me know in the comments below!

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Global Marketing

International Marketing Regulations

When marketing to different areas of the world, it is important to do so ethically. Like other areas, international marketing has its own set of regulations. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the largest business organization in the world and is in charge of rule setting, dispute resolution, and policy advocacy. Their mission is to enable businesses worldwide to secure peace, prosperity, and opportunity for all. When it comes to regulation, the ICC has three policies.

Digital Marketing Communications

The ICC recognizes that with the rise of smart devices, digital advertising has been exponentially increasing. In particular, the use of Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA) has been increasing. OBA refers to the collection of multiple data points across several websites that are used to predict preferences and target specialized ads for the user. The use of OBA comes with a concern for privacy and data protection. The ICC provides a set of guidelines to follow which encourages businesses to be ethical when it comes to OBA.

  • Clear and conspicuous notice regarding if and how OBA data collection is used. Notice should include the type of data collected and the purpose for collecting it;
  • Having an easy-to-use mechanism to let consumers decide about the collection and use of their data for OBA purposes;
  • Obtaining explicit consumer consent for OBA in all cases of collecting and using data via technologies or practices intended to harvest that data from all or almost all websites visited by a particular computer or device across multiple web domains;
  • Obtaining explicit consumer consent for creation and use of OBA segments relying on sensitive data;

The majority of rules revolve around transparency. Have you ever scrolled through dozens of pages of Terms and Agreements and not read a single word? Companies make it confusing to know what data is being collected and their intentions on using it. The ICC calls for this practice to stop, and puts the decision in the hands of the consumer. 

Environmental Claims

With the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), many companies see the future of business as providing a sustainable product. Well, what’s wrong with making the planet greener? The ICC raises the concern that while sustainable products are increasing, more businesses are “overstating or misrepresenting” the environmental benefits of a product or service. This happens more than you think and there’s actually a term for it – “Greenwashing”. The ICC believes greenwashing undermines consumer confidence and also penalizes other companies who practice sustainability. For this reason, the ICC put forward the following principles:

  • Ensuring that all statements and visual treatments do not mislead, overstate or exploit consumers’ concern for the environment, given their possible lack of knowledge in the area.
  • Avoidance of general claims, like “environmentally friendly,” “green,” “sustainable,” and “carbon friendly,” unless there is validation of the accomplishment against a very high standard of proof.
  • Presenting qualifications in a way that is clear, prominent, understandable and accessible to consumers.
  • Presenting improvement claims separately so it is clear whether each claim relates to the product, an ingredient of the product, the packaging or an ingredient of the packaging.

Marketing and Advertising to Children

The ICC acknowledges that advertising to the next generation is the ultimate target for advertisers. Children normally influence what their parents buy whether it be a holiday gift or choosing a restaurant. The ICC argues that a child’s vulnerability and inexperience must be protected from potentially harmful content. In response, ICC code suggests that all marketers have the responsibility to be legal, decent, honest, and truthful. The ICC points out one important issue affecting children; childhood obesity. On average, 50% of advertisements children see are on food. ICC believes children are especially vulnerable since they do not understand the risks of malnutrition. As a solution, ICC provides the following points on marketing to children:

  • Only products suitable for children are marketed in media intended for them;
  • Advertising and marketing communications geared to children should be clearly identifiable as marketing; 
  • Communications should not undermine positive behaviour, social mores or parental 
  • Judgement; parents are encouraged to participate and supervise online activities

International marketing and advertisement must be done in an ethical manner. Are there any other regulations that the ICC should add? What’s the biggest concern moving forward?

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Global Marketing

Content Marketing

With the rise of COVID-19, content marketing is becoming prevalent in today’s world of advertisements. Gone are the days where companies market their products, instead, an increasing amount of companies are using content marketing.

What is content marketing?

The concept of content marketing revolves around the idea of not pitching your products and services. Instead, companies provide relevant and useful content to support their customers and help them solve issues. Turn on the TV, you will likely see a commercial like the one below

Budweiser is one of many companies actively engaging in a content marketing campaign. Instead of promoting their product, Budweiser promotes unity and showcases how charitable they are.

Why content marketing?

Experts believe they’re three key reasons that companies use content marketing. 

  • Increased sales
  • Cost savings
  • Customer loyalty

I’ll add a fourth:

  • Communication

Companies use content marketing in an attempt to differentiate themselves from their competitors. A content ad connects the audience to the brand with a certain message, usually a message that is relatable with the wide population. 

With COVID-19, the term “coronacontent” is being thrown around. A multitude of companies quickly adapted and made changes to their marketing strategy. As more companies respond to the crisis, others “feel compelled to respond”.

What are your thoughts on content marketing? Does doing so during a pandemic make a company seem more genuine? If you were the marketing director of a large corporation, how would you respond?

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Global Marketing

Influencer Marketing: The Next Gen Marketing Approach

A shift in marketing strategy is taking place before our eyes. As a new generation of consumers is entering the workforce, companies are beginning to adopt new marketing methods. After the internet revolution, businesses can better market their products through multiple avenues all over the world. However, this is both costly and sometimes never reaches the consumers in mind. For this reason, companies are increasingly turning to a new form of marketing – influencer marketing.

What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing focuses on key individuals that have large reaches in certain segments, hence the term influencer. These influencers are typically those with a large following on various social media platforms. There are two types of influencers: Micro and Macro. A micro-influencer has between 1,000 to 100,000 followers whereas a macro-influencer has more than 100,000 followers. Companies will reach out to these individuals and pay them to promote their product in a post or video. 

I know what you might be thinking. Companies have used celebrities to reach audiences for centuries. It wasn’t until Babe Ruth, Lily Langtry, and Sarah Bernhardt in the early 1900s that celebrity marketing was widely practiced. Nowadays, seemingly every celebrity is making a substantial amount of their income in endorsements. What’s the difference? I argue that celebrity marketing is targeted to the mass population. Only multi-million dollar companies can afford celebrities. With influencers, any size company is able to target a specific audience at a fraction of the cost. Even if you are a relatively new company looking for marketing opportunities, influencers are a good way to reach an intended audience.

What does it cost?

As previously mentioned, the cost of an influencer varies on their following as well as final negotiations. However, the following table provides a guideline for the potential cost per followers or views. According to the NY Post, an A-list celebrity can make anywhere between $500,000 to $2 million per commercial. For example, a 30-second advertisement with Kate Upton reportedly cost $1 million dollars. In contrast, an influencer with the same amount of followers as Kate Upton on Twitter would charge less than $5,000 for a single post in theory. From an influencer’s standpoint, there’s not a lot of work copying and pasting a post provided by a company for a quick buck. Influencers are hubs for people that share similar interests, making them the perfect marketing opportunity.

How to effectively market products using influencers?

The more niche your product is the easier it is to find an influencer to target an intended audience. For example, a company specializing in a new portable phone case can use influencers in both the technology segment and influencers who are always on the go. In essence, it is the ultimate word-of-mouth marketing. The consumer feels a connection with the influencer almost as if they know them personally. According to a Nielsen study, 83% of consumers trust influencers over a branded advertisement. If an influencer raves about a product, their followers who share similar taste will also go out and purchase the product. A simple 5-second plug about “never leaving the house without my Product X phone case” would likely reach a more direct audience than a costly commercial. Influencer marketing tends to already be international marketing. Influencers have followers from all over the world. Even though the influencer may be located in the states, they potentially could have a global reach. Another option is identifying the top influencers in other countries. It’s a lot easier for an American company to advertise via influencers from other countries. They can even do it remotely!

As the number of social media users continues to increase, companies have an opportunity to gain exposure to untouched markets. Most social media platforms have analytics that will give a company in-depth information about an influencer’s following. This makes it more transparent for companies to identify a potential influencer to partner with. Influencer marketing will play a big part in the future of international marketing; so what is your company waiting for, hire an influencer today and watch your next product take off!