For hospitality marketers this New Year, the pandemic suggests one silver lining. It gives an opportunity to re-assess their own marketing mix and strategies. Subsequently, ask whether their mix of products
and services on the digital landscape is compelling enough for the guest.
On the Digital Marketing
(DM) platform, your brand.com website is your supreme selling tool that can add value to your customer. It represents your company’s ethos, and if your DM strategies align with your marketing mix, then ‘Bob’s your uncle!’
Check your usage of your DM strategies for:
• Social Media
• Content Marketing
• Video Marketing
• Influencer Marketing
• Building Communities
• Targeting & Retargeting
• Contextual Messaging to customer cohorts
• Hyper-contextualising to segments of your audience
Constantly re-evaluate your DM activities for the 7 P’s, viz. Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process, and Physical evidence. A few pertinent posers are suggested for each of these items in the mix, to jump-start your thought process. 1. Product:
To save your P&L and stay relevant, 2019 has forced us to innovate our range of products and services. Socially distanced products, menus, drive-in services, conveyor & robotic services, cloud kitchens, DIY meals, hygiene, office space are just some examples. Some will ride off into the sunset as we will eventually mitigate the virus. Others that offer your brand an area of differentiated superiority will wedge in. Make use of YouTube, Insta Reels, Facebook, Stories, Direct, etc. to share your product features, advantages, and potential benefits. Use indicative imagery displaying drop-dead gorgeous phantasmagorias, immersive experiences, or influencers unboxing videos of them discovering your property. 2. Price:
An almost non-existent to low demand has collapsed prices like a pack of cards. Market economics flows from the supply-demand curve and the hospitality industry is on the wrong side of this curve. One cannot discount such that you keep losing in this ‘zero-sum game’ with your guest. Yet, discount one must to claim a stake of the reduced pie. Packaging, Bundling, using Discount Codes, leveraging your Loyalty Program, or offering Online Vouchers will work well in a depressed market. Using innovative DM on your brand.com website will make your products alluring. Endeavour to establish a value proposition exceeding the product price, while yet maintaining positioning and brand personality. 3. Place:
In the digital landscape, distribution of the product has graduated to Mobile (movable), and even Immersive Experiences using Virtual Reality.
A popular apothegm states “if the mountain won't come to you, you must go to the mountain.” The industry has learned this lesson robustly during this epidemic. Customers have a morbid fear of infection and avoid coming to you. So, you have adapted by going to the customer! Swiggy and Zomato are examples of this, where they show a live update of your food order in real time. Restaurants will soon be offering their guests, viewable live updates of their order. Ask yourselves what creative new distribution options are there for customers to experience your product at their convenience? And, whether these distribution options would help overcome the customer’s hygiene concerns and help increase your market footprint. 4. Promotion:
This includes all the ways you tell your customers about your products or services and how you then market and sell to them. Even small changes in your online promotion tactics can lead to dramatic results. You need to figure out your best communication strategy and how best you can grab eyeballs and interest potential customers. Promote your products & services using an appropriate mix of DM conduits. Social Media, Digital PR, E-newsletters, Podcasts, Social Influencers, Vloggers & Bloggers, Video ads, YouTube, Web Forums, SEO (search engine optimization), Emails, E-Banners, PPC (pay per click), are few such mediums. 5. People:
Your employees represent your product. They impact the customer’s impression of your brand as they represent your company in alignment with broader messaging strategies. In the Digital space, websites use the ‘People’ element through AI (artificial intelligence) with chatbots interacting directly with potential customers. Social media also assists customers with their queries on your products and services. What needs to be monitored constantly to ensure this DM strategy works best, is whether your customer interactions are delightful. Are service complaints handled positively online? 6. Process:
The best of DM strategies are of no use if your digital processes do not serve the customer effectively. To improve the user journey, constantly monitor and tweak your digital processes to understand customer expectations during your brand.com interaction. The customer undergoes a UX (user experience) journey while entering a website to browse and purchase. This passage must be made as smooth as possible through your eye-ball catching brand.com website design. Other technical aspects of your website can also make or break this UX journey. Thus, you need to be sharp in areas of Conversion Optimisation, Payment Speed, Website Loading Speed, and Device Optimisation. 7. Physical Evidence:
In light of the worldwide epidemic, the new ‘luxury’ lies in touch-free, sanitised physical spaces, minimised and socially distanced services, sanitised and sensitised associates, contactless technology, etc. Online purchasing depends hugely on customer reviews. Expedia, TripAdvisor, Zomato, and the like, use physical evidence from customer reviews to make products and services stand out. Whether through customer reviews or social influencers, potential customers make buying decisions based on this online physical evidence. You can clock additional business through these positive customer experiences. For, if these experiences are good enough to blazon on social media, your brand will promote itself successfully.
Your Digital Marketing Mix must make your brand, products, and services be clutter-breakers to stand out amongst the competition.
In the words of the 1963 Bob Dylan
classic, I quote: “And if your breath to you is worth savin' Then you better start swimmin' Or you'll sink like a stone For the times, they are a-changin'”
Half a century ago, Alvin Toffler
in his book Future Shock,
was credited with a profound statement. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write. It will be those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn
The truly literate Hospitality Digital Marketer will be one who learns, unlearns, and relearns his digital marketing mix!