PR & MARKETING STRATEGY – IS YOUR BUSINESS READY FOR LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN?

As we approach the end of Lockdown Mark III, the government believes that the UK economy will bounce back like a ‘coiled spring’. The question is, are you ready for a return to normality, what are you doing to prepare yourselves and have you got their marketing strategy in place to maximise opportunities? If not, now is the time to take action before it’s too late.

The Bank of England suggests that consumer spending is set to surge with that the British public having saved as much as £250 billion while being locked up. Restaurants, pubs and bars are the likely immediate benefactors as well as UK holiday providers, but all these industries have suppliers and employ people who, who when earning again, will look to treat themselves after months of curtailment.

We have talked earlier about the importance of maintaining a marketing presence during lockdown and have an excellent case study of Combermere Abbey, one of the region’s leading wedding venues and accommodation providers, on how they managed it so well. The case study shows how the business was forced to close due to the Covid restrictions but rather than twiddle thumbs, took proactive measures so they were well placed to take advantage when the lockdown was lifted.

Businesses preparing for the lifting of what is believed to be the ‘last lockdown’ should also consider how the economy has been permanently altered since March 2020. Consumer spending habits, lifestyles and trends have been shifted online, people have adopted new hobbies and outlooks, and it is hard to see how the high street can bounce back without innovation or embracing more digital opportunities.

It is not just the hospitality and retail industries that is expected to bounce back, but house builders and construction industries are also likely to benefit as people look to either move home or make renovations following months of being in lockdown. A report from our client Miller Homes suggests that lifestyles have been changed by the pandemic with more home working or a demand for more outdoor space. These new ways of living and working present clear marketing opportunities.

The use of social media has also grown significantly as users feel that they have a safe space to interact, be entertained, distract themselves, and find inspiration without any risk of contagion. July 2020 saw a rise of 10.5% in social media usage, compared with July 2019, according to a GlobalWebIndex survey. Some 46% of women and 41% of men said they’ve spent more time on social media during the pandemic, making it the second-most popular digital activity.

Businesses should alter their marketing approach to reflect this and have a marketing and social media strategy in place that maximises the opportunities presented. It’s likely that the space will remain competitive and it will be the brands that have relationships with their customers and who are able to excite, entice and engage that will come out strongest.

If you’re looking for a PR or marketing strategy, the team would be delighted to have a chat to understand where you are, what the vision is and to help pull plans together so you can get there. The end of the ‘last lockdown’ is fast approaching, make sure you are ready like a ‘coiled spring’ to take your opportunities.

SOCIAL MEDIA ADVICE FOR B2B COMPANIES

Social media marketing is pretty vital to every company, but it’s easier for some than it is others. Marketing plans can be particularly tricky to navigate at the best of times, so we’re here with some social media advice for B2B companies from The Source team. We have a wealth of experience in B2B PR support, which includes content marketing, social media and media relations and from that experience, here’s what we recommend.

Top Social Media Advice For B2B Companies

Click on the links below to jump to specific social media advice for B2B companies…

  1. Find the right social media platforms
  2. Utilise industry news
  3. Remember that people like people
  4. Keep things interesting
  5. Leverage appropriate hashtags
  6. Don’t underestimate Facebook groups

Find The Right Social Media Platforms

Not every platform will work for every company, that goes for B2C industries as well as B2B. For example, TikTok marketing is a great opportunity for brands with a visual appeal, such as tourism providers, wedding dress manufacturers and cosmetic companies. Other platforms, such as LinkedIn, work much better for B2B marketing, especially for service products such as CRM software, for example. There’s no one way to decide which social media platform will work best for your B2B company, so the best way to approach is through trial and error. See which types of content get the most engagement, and where. Traditionally, though, we’d match the following top platforms to the following sectors..

  • Instagram – mainly B2C, with opportunities for B2B
  • Twitter – mainly B2B, with opportunities for B2C
  • Facebook – both B2C and B2B
  • TikTok – mainly B2C, with opportunities for B2B
  • LinkedIn – mainly B2B
  • Pinterest – mainly B2C

So, if you’re heading a B2B company and want to give social a go, it’s worth dipping your toe in the water with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and potentially Instagram and TikTok also. We have some more social media advice on what kind of content to focus on below.

Utilise Industry News

You shouldn’t be content curating all of your posts, as most of your audience will be following your accounts because they want to hear from you, however, utilising relevant industry news in posts is a good way of keeping your audience informed of relevant and interesting developments. It keeps you abreast with your sector and positions you as an expert in that field, furthermore, it creates a good mix of content to keep your strategy fresh and current. We’d recommend around an 80:20 ratio of curated to original content, but don’t be afraid to mix this up week on week.

People Like People

As we mentioned above, people like people. Though you’re selling ‘business to business’, there’s still a person behind that brand at either end. A study by Princeton University proposed the stereotype model, which boils down to the fact that people judge others on their warmth and competence. The more ‘friendly’ you appear, the more likely people are to trust you – this applies to your social media followers too. Though it’s important to draw a line and remain professional, it’s also a good idea to be conversational in your content and help build trust in your brand. Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy says it’s important to demonstrate warmth first and then competence, especially in business settings. A lot of effective social media marketing begins with an understanding of human psychology.

Keep Things Interesting

It’s a common misconception that B2B communications have to be stiff and corporate, try injecting a light tone of voice into your content or experimenting with light-hearted competitions for engagement. With one of our B2B clients Altecnic, they ran a 12 days of Christmas giveaway which included a daily video of their Technical Manager dressed as Santa. You need to remember that your audience is human and keeping things engaging is a sure way of retaining engagement and growing following. If there’s a certain lull, never underestimate the power of a social media giveaway either, no matter your industry.

Social media advice for B2B companies: competitions

Leverage The Right Hashtags

Researching into hashtags is never time wasted. You can now use hashtags in your posts across LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and more recently, Facebook. One of our B2B clients frequents the ‘#PlumbersHour’ hashtag because this is where their core audience is. Hashtags are often followed by those interested in that kind of content, so if you have a specific audience of your B2B brand, then find out what the kind of conversations that they’re already in, and join in. You can discover hashtags through researching related terms on Instagram and Twitter, and also by looking at what other influential accounts are tapping in to.

Don’t Underestimate Facebook Groups

Finally, our last piece of social media advice for B2B companies is not to underestimate the power of a Facebook group. Similarly, to leveraging hashtags, Facebook groups can be a great way to find your audiences. In 2019, Facebook announced that Facebook says there “are more than 400 million people in groups that they find meaningful”, meaning there’s a huge potential audience if you know where to look. Start by searching keywords on Facebook that are relevant to your brand for example “food manufacturing”, “plumbing” or “health and safety”.

 

For more advice and support for B2B PR, social media, content marketing and more, please get in touch with our friendly and experienced team through our website. Or, you can keep up to date with what The Source is up to on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

A GUIDE TO COMMUNICATING THROUGH THE THIRD LOCKDOWN

For the third time in our lives, and thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, England has been plunged into a third nationwide lockdown. Clear instructions were given by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday that we must “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives”. This means that non-essential retailers are to close, with most hospitality outlets such as pubs, restaurants and hotels being closed already due to pre-existing tier restrictions. Navigating the next few months is without a doubt going to be tricky, but we at The Source are on hand to support you with any questions around communications you might have.

Should You Be Continuing With PR & Social Media Through Lockdown?

We might be biased, but we believe it is crucial to continue communicating with your customers, even during periods of total closure. There are many reasons for doing so, which we will explain further below. But first, we’d direct you to our PR case study for Combermere Abbey, a luxury wedding venue and holiday accommodation. Throughout the first and second lockdown, this client retained their PR and social media activity, understanding the importance of consistent communications. As a result, following the lifting of restrictions last summer, the abbey was inundated with bookings, and enjoyed a busy year, all things considered.

A social media campaign we ran for our client Combermere Abbey got great engagement during lockdown, read our case study to find out more…

The financial implications of a third lockdown mean you might be wondering whether a PR and social media strategy is worth the budget, we believe it is because…

  • Your competitors may still be communicating, and you don’t want to lose customers to them if you go quiet.
  • People will want things to look forward to, you can get them excited about the future and ensure that when restrictions are lifted, they’ll come to you.
  • You might be able to pivot your business and still make revenue during lockdown, for example by offering gift vouchers or a takeaway service.
  • With people being at home a lot more, it’s likely social media usage will rise once more, now is a great time to work on building your following and introducing your brand to a wealth of new people.
  • Now is a great time to gauge interest for later on this year, you can subtly generate interest and then introduce a hard-hitting marketing strategy when restrictions are hopefully lifted in the spring.

The Lion at Malpas voucher

What To Say When There’s Nothing To Say

An issue, of course, of communicating through lockdown is that you might feel as though you have nothing to say. It could be the case that your business is fully closed for the next few months, and up until now your social media has been focused around sales. However, just because you can’t sell to customers, doesn’t mean you should stop talking to them. It can be hard to find the inspiration of what to post for sure, so here’s 5 of our top tips…

  1. Switch up your call to actions, instead of directing people to purchase, suggest they visit your website to read a blog, or follow your social media pages for more updates instead.
  2. Get people excited about the future, by showing them what’s on offer for when restrictions are lifted.
  3. Give your customers updates. If you’re a gym and you’re renovating a certain area, shout about this on your social media – people want something to look forward to.
  4. Introduce confidence offers for people to encourage revenue now, for example if you’re in the holiday business, are there deals and secure booking policies that you can introduce, for people who book now for stays later this year?
  5. Share happy memories from times gone by. If you’re a wedding venue, for example, why not encourage past brides and grooms to post pictures from their happy days. Positivity is what got brands through the last 2 lockdowns, and it’s what will get us through this one too.

It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t post for the sake of it, though, as this could end up doing more harm than good. However, if you can find a relevant message to your brand – then hold on to that.

Other Lockdown Communication Tips

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for marketing, but there are some tips and tricks you can go by to ensure an efficient communications strategy throughout this third (and hopefully final) lockdown. If you’re now convinced that it’s important to stay in touch with your customers, both old and new, then here’s some of our advice for actioning that…

  • Use different means of communicating, as not every customer will use the same channels. You can typically reach an older demographic via informational newsletters and Facebook or try Instagram or TikTok to communicate to a younger audience.
  • Test what works well by trying different types of content on different platforms, then stick to what works once you’ve determined a winning formula.
  • This is a difficult time for us all but try to focus on the positives if you can. Share happy memories and get your customers looking forward to visiting you or buying from you when restrictions are lifted.
  • Use this time, if you can, do get involved with the local community and help out. Brewdog recently made headlines by offering their empty bars to the NHS to be used as vaccination facilities. Your acts don’t need to be extravagant as this, but it always helps to generate good PR if you can help out in any way you can. Why not raise money for a local charity in a lockdown fundraiser, or donate surplus stock to a foodbank?
  • Pivot your business and operate online if you can, this can be from offering a takeaway service through to creating e-vouchers. Continue to encourage people to support businesses and shop local.

If there is any more advice you’d like, or any questions for our team of experts, please don’t hesitate to tweet us, or send us a private message through our website. We look forward to hearing from you soon and until then, stay safe.

JO MALONE’S MISJUDGEMENT – THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING ON TOP OF CURRENT AFFAIRS

While some businesses have folded due to the impact of COVID-19, others have managed to find their feet during it. We’ve seen tongue-in-cheek advertising slogans emerge, such as KFC’s switch from ‘It’s finger lickin’ good’ to ‘It’s good’ as a reference to the importance of hand-washing and personal hygiene,  showing an increase of sense of humour in brand communications in the past few months – a far cry from how we were all feeling back in March.

 

Staying on top of current affairs has always been an efficient way of plugging into the latest trends and hot topics, from newsjacking in PR, to keeping your social media strategies relevant. Gymshark is particularly adept at this, whether it’s voicing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement via a $125,000 donation, or something smaller, such as using the latest Twitter meme format to generate a healthy volume of engagement.

 

 

 

But it’s not just important for brands to stay on top of current affairs for their own inbound marketing, it’s also an essential way of knowing what not to say and do.

 

Gently does it

 

Jo Malone (the brand, not the person – she sold the company in 1999) recently faced backlash for exactly this. The candle and fragrance creator changed an ad that previously starred, and was conceived by, actor John Boyega to include a Chinese actor instead. The use of Liu Haoran instead was to allegedly cater to its Chinese consumer base. The original advert explores Boyega’s beginnings in Peckham, London, with the ad even starring his friends and family. The slogan for the Jo Malone campaign was ‘A London Gent’. With Boyega’s London roots, it simply makes much more sense than when compared to Haoran, who was born and raised in China. Boyega has since dropped his partnership with the company, saying that he does not condone ‘dismissively trading out one’s culture.’

 

Whilst the decision by Jo Malone was a mistake whichever way you look at it, it comes as an even bigger sting following not only the rise in protests in the last few months from Black Lives Matter, but also the actor’s own vocal support for the movement. The erasure of Boyega for seemingly no apparent reason is a reminder of the subliminal racism that is perpetuated by some within advertising industry. The Force Awakens brought in $124 million from China’s box office: though it fared much less strongly than the Avengers movies due to the lack of a nostalgia from Chinese viewers, there’s no doubt that he is known not just to Westerners, but Easterners too.

 

Keeping it current

 

If the powers that be at Jo Malone had their fingers a little more on the pulse when it comes to current political situations, would they have continued with the replacement of John Boyega for their Chinese advert? It’s difficult to say – many more factors must have been at play behind closed doors. But what we do know is that the company would have retained its partnership with the actor. There’s also no doubt that the Jo Malone will have lost the support of some of its British customers in the wake of the upset – something that could have been avoided with a little more planning and consideration for current affairs.

 

Whilst an outright support for Black Lives Matter is a risk some brands simply won’t take, many are. Some, simply to keep their fingers on the pulse, but for others like Gymshark, it’s a clear expression of their brand values.

 

Get in touch with us

 

At Source PR, we always have our eye on the ball when it comes to all things digital. For advice on PR, digital marketing and social media, including working with influencers, get in touch with our team here.

WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER TIKTOK MARKETING FOR YOUR BRAND

TikTok is a social media platform that has grown rapidly. 2 years ago, it’d have been hard to imagine a channel that could compete with the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. But now, in 2020, there’s a new player in the game – and it looks like TikTok is here for the long haul. So much so, that TikTok marketing campaigns are now being launched and the app becomes more profitable by the day.

Today, the news has broken that people in the U.S will be banned from downloading TikTok from Sunday onwards. However, it’s hard to dismiss the marketing potential available on this app – it’s certainly not worth sleeping on.

Initially released in 2016, just over 4 years ago, TikTok’s popularity grew steadily before rocketing in the past year or so. Now, TikTok has approximately 3.7 million active users in the UK who engage with the app for an average of 41 minutes a day. Not only this, but it’s the 7th most active social media app in the world and is set to reach 10 million UK users by 2021. Not bad for a platform founded a few years ago, whilst the other key players have been established for decades.

With such a huge, interactive audience, it would be crazy not to consider TikTok marketing for your brand, below we’re discussing exactly why this is an avenue worth pursuing.

5 Reason To Consider TikTok Marketing

  1. Fantastic Engagement Rates

Reach on TikTok reaches into the millions daily. It only takes a scroll down the FYP (For You Page) to see videos with 1m+ likes and many more views. It’s also estimated that the biggest TikTok influencers in the UK have higher engagement rates on that platform, than on Instagram. Cloutmeter indicates that TikTok users average a healthy 52.1% engagement. Influencer marketing has long been a dynamic option for brands with multi-level marketing campaigns, and there are many reasons as to why you should be considering influencers in your strategies. The idea of TikTok marketing is a relatively new one, but one well worth utilising in its early stages. The reach of content has potential to exceed even traditional media such as newspapers and online articles.

  1. Wide Demographics

Most would discount TikTok marketing, thinking you can only reach a younger demographic. This isn’t actually the case. In the US, over 51% of viewers are 35 or older and 37% have household incomes of $100k or more. There are various different niches to the app, from food to art, travel to fashion. No matter your business, there’s likely an audience that you can reach on TikTok with the right kind of targeting.

  1. Current And Trendy

As with all marketing campaigns, it can be easy to fall guilty to sticking with what you know. However, this often means that activity can become tired and ineffective. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to vary content on paid social ads, and to update your PPC campaigns regularly. It’s also a reason to consider TikTok marketing. If your brand is in need of a boost, then why not ditch the status quo and try something new? If you work with only one or two influencers initially, then the stakes are rather low – your returns could be far greater, making it a risk worth taking.

  1. Avenues For Lots Of Businesses

You might think TikTok marketing is only for fashion and lifestyle brands, but this isn’t the case. One of the reasons that TikTok is so popular amongst a massive demographic, is because it caters to different audiences. Clever algorithms mean that users see the kind of content they’re interested in, and you’d be surprised at how niche these topics can go. Niches spotted by The Source PR team include…

  • Dancing & singing
  • Comedy
  • Fashion
  • Makeup & beauty
  • Reading
  • Art & crafts
  • Farming
  • Dog grooming
  • Cake making
  • Cooking
  • University & learning
  • Marketing
  • Science
  • Cars & transport
  • Cleaning

And so much more. If your company is open to exploring new things, then you can almost certainly give TikTok marketing a go.

  1. Opportunity For Virality

Last but not least, another reason to consider TikTok marketing is that it appears to be easier to achieve virality than on any other social media platform. When a post gets over a million likes on Instagram, it’s rather a big deal. However, on TikTok, content exceeds this figure on the daily. If you create a great piece of marketing with an influencer with a respectable following, then the chances of a great reach are really quite favourable.

If your brand isn’t already utilising a TikTok marketing strategy, perhaps it should be. For advice on influencer marketing, as well as PR, social and digital, you can get in touch with our team here.

5 REASONS TO USE A PPC MARKETING AGENCY POST-LOCKDOWN

As the UK eases out of lockdown, and more businesses open their doors again in the ‘new normal’, many are likely wondering how to get customers to trust it’s safe to visit again, and how to boost sales after months of inactivity. The truth is, there are many ways in which you can rebuild your brand’s trust and also introduce it to new potential consumers. One thing you might consider, is a PPC marketing agency.

PPC is otherwise known as ‘Pay-Per-Click’ and is a paid advertisement where the fee is worked out by the number of times a link has been clicked on. Most commonly, PPC is seen on Google, which merges with YouTube too. PPC usually works well when running alongside paid social, another method worth considering for your marketing strategies.

PPC can be an effective marketing tactic, no matter your budget. It’s also an advertising option applicable to most, if not all businesses. You could be a small company, or large-scale corporate, and PPC would still likely bring about measurable benefits to your business.

5 Benefits Of Using A PPC Marketing Agency

So, why use PPC? And moreover, a PPC marketing agency? A PPC marketing agency is a business that offers PPC advertising services to other businesses. They sometimes also offer other services too, such as paid social, SEO and more. An agency can sometimes be utilised instead of an in-house team, or can work alongside them. Here are 5 reasons why you might consider PPC now your business is back up and running…

  1. You’ll get easy-to-measure results

One of the best things about PPC advertising, is that you can measure and track your results, pretty much from the word ‘go’. If utilising PPC through Google, you can use data studio to record KPIS such as clicks, goal completions and conversions. If you marry your PPC strategy up to your Google Analytics too, you can also check bounce rates and more. You can see what elements of your campaign is working and also see the results right before your eyes – putting more faith in PPC.

  1. You can reach your target audience

PPC is also a popular marketing choice as you can target your audience with algorithms. With keyword research, you can identify what your potential consumers are searching for and then target them with your PPC strategy. This is particularly worth thinking about when 95% of clicks go to the top 4 results on the search page – 3 of which are ads. A PPC marketing agency will know how to effectively locate target keywords and then utilise them within a PPC strategy.

  1. Refining your strategy is easy

As mentioned above, tracking your PPC results is easy. As such, refining your methods are too. If you find out something isn’t working, then you can turn that element of the ad off. You can use trial and error to test keywords and home in on the tactics that are succeeding and driving the most conversions.

  1. Learn from other businesses

A big benefit of working with a PPC marketing agency, is that they will likely have experience in a wide range of fields. If you opt to work with a company that has B2B as well as B2C clients, then you can discover what’s worked well for them, and how that could benefit your own PPC strategy.

  1. Work with experienced professionals

Lastly, one of the main reasons why companies choose to use a PPC marketing agency, is because they are experts in their field and have a wealth of experience. When working with an agency, their bread and butter is the service they offer. Furthermore, there’s usually more than one person working on your account.

PPC marketing agency statistics for 2020

Credit: Econsultancy

Other Marketing Strategies To Use

Marketing works best when you focus on more than one tactic, working towards the same outcome, using different strategies. This is what’s known as a marketing strategy, and it can be the key to a successful business in a post-lockdown world. Whilst there are many benefits of using a PPC marketing agency, you might want to consider an integrated agency that offers the whole hog. Other tactics well worth considering, and all for different reasons, include…

If you’re looking for a PPC marketing agency, that has experience in the fields above too, then why not give us a call? We are a PR, marketing and digital agency with a whole range of skills – we can help with your PPC advertising goals, as well as use our other expertise to help your business thrive in a post-lockdown world. To get in touch, give us a call on 01829 720 789, or contact us online.

PR AND MARKETING FOR CHESHIRE’S MOST ICONIC PUBS

Two of Cheshire’s most iconic pubs have called on Source PR to help support them with their PR, social media and content marketing as they look to reengage with customers after lockdown.

The Swan in Tarporley and the newly refurbished Lion in Malpas, both part of The Bear Inns Group, have benefited from multi-million pound investments and refurbishments and are now looking to raise awareness of their features as well as re-engage with the community.

The Swan, an historic coaching inn dating from 1565, has been an integral part of the South Cheshire community for over 400 years.  The refurbished pub maintains its characterful Georgian features including log fires and rustic decor in keeping with its coaching inn roots.

The Georgian coaching inn offers 16 double bedrooms all of which are en-suite.  Located in the main building, or the adjacent coach house, the rooms have been recently refurbished to offer a unique and characterful place to stay in the heart of Cheshire, just eight miles from Chester, and only a short commute to Manchester or Liverpool.

To support the local community, The Swan has joined the Government initiative, ‘Eat Out to Help Out’.  The new government scheme incentivises customers to eat out in their favourite eating establishments by giving them a discount which the business can then claim back from the government

The Lion is a fully renovated country pub with double bedrooms set in the heart of Malpas, one of Cheshire’s most picturesque villages.   Formerly The Red Lion, the site dates back to the 16th Century and has welcomed locals and visitors for centuries.  Scheduled to reopened in Autumn 2020 after extensive renovation and refurbishment, the pub now offers a large open bar area with a range of quality local ales and lagers, wines and spirits as well as classic cocktails.  The area has been cleverly segmented to offer a cosy spaces with fires, open bar area as well as relaxed and more formal dining areas throughout.

The complete renovation and refurbishment saw the addition of 16 double bedrooms.  Residents are offered a range of beautifully decorated rooms, each named after local Cheshire villages. The double rooms are all en-suite and have been designed by award winning Lister Carter, a leading interior design company.

Louis Hill, Managing Director of Source PR, says: “Pubs are an integral part of the community, providing not only an excellent pace to eat and drink but importantly a place for people to come together.  We love pubs and this could not be a better PR brief for us to get stuck into.”

Source PR has a track record of supporting the opening of pubs, bars and restaurants having supported Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars with their seven pubs across the UK, culminating in them winning the UK’s Best Pub.  The team also helped Jerry Brunning, founder of Brunning & Price, when he returned to the sector with the launch of the Swan in Marbury.

THE MARKETING STRATEGIES YOU SHOULD BE USING RIGHT NOW

As the UK is slowly easing out of lockdown, it has never been more important to deploy a number of marketing strategies to help support your business as it begins to resume normalcy. Normality might be a stretch, as life as we know it has changed a lot over the course of the law few months.

Nevertheless, lots of brands have adjusted their procedures accordingly so that they can work and trade in the “new normal” we have found ourselves to be in. Now that provisions have been made, it’s time to start marketing to your pre-existing, and potential new customers – let’s make up for lost time.

The value of marketing should never be understated. Even during UK lockdown where many businesses had to close, there was still a need to communicate and keep your brand alive. The idea was to not let your customers forget about you, and to keep them engaged and excited for when you may be able to resume ‘business as normal’. Now, since non-essential retailers have been able to open, and as the hospitality industry begins to resume next month, your marketing strategies need to change accordingly. No longer is the message: “we are here waiting for your return”, it is “we are back, and this is why you should be spending money with us”.

To get such messages across, you’ll need to use a number of marketing strategies and tactics. One is often not enough. In order to recuperate the losses that lockdown might have brought, you’re going to want to be visible to a large audience of varying demographics and with different interests. As well as remarketing to existing customers, now’s the time to start encouraging new ones in too.

Below, our team have put together some advice on marketing for hospitality, retail and other industries that might have been impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions.

Marketing Strategies For Hospitality, Retail & Other Sectors

As mentioned above, you’re going to want to deploy a number of marketing strategies in order to reach as many (relevant) people as possible. There are a number of ways in which you can do this, and they include…

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is great for retargeting, as chances are your followers like your content, or even better – your brand. As such, utilising social media could be the low hanging fruit for your reopening marketing strategies. Use platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to share business updates, inspirational content, hygiene protocols that will give your customers a safe experience, and anything else that you know is a particular hit with your consumers. To help build following, and to get people excited about your brand again, you might even want to run a social media competition or two. The most important thing is to remain active, you want to be popping up time and time again to your audience so that you’re on their mind ahead of 4th of July, where most businesses will be able to resume trading.

Word Of Mouth Marketing

Word of mouth marketing remains to be the best tactic there is. It’s said that as many as 83% of people would trust a reccomendation, if it came from their friends or family. Though this is largely an organic process, there are some things you can do to help it along. Why not encourage your consumers to leave you a good review on social media, or focus on branding so that even after they leave your establishment, they remember you. This could be a branded gift bag, or even something as small as a branded after-dinner mint if you’re a restaurant. When a customer goes home, and their friend or relative asks about you (perhaps being prompted after seeing your brand), you’re going to want them to say good things. Of course, word of mouth marketing is largely encouraged by the business providing an excellent service or product, so this should be a crucial focus as you reopen, or prepare to reopen on the 4th of July. Remember to share positive testimonials on social media too, as they can help reinforce to stakeholders why your brand is awesome. Reading a good review could be the final push a potential consumer, who’s been sitting on the fence, needs to pay you a visit.

Public Relations (PR)

PR is our bread and butter here at Source PR, but it also fundamentally important to your overall marketing strategy. Public Relations is a blanket term which covers your reputation management, this can be built up in lots of ways. Fundamentally though, it’s important to work on your strategy, possibly by utilising a PR agency, to ensure your brand image is a strong one, and one that rises above key competitors in your industry. A big part of PR is media relations, which involves getting your brand into media titles, both online and in print. This kind of exposure for your brand is great as you adjust to trading again, as it can reach a potential audience pool wider than your social media, for example, might be able to get.

PPC & Paid Social

Another way to reach a wider audience, and one that we would recommend if you’re trying to grow your consumer base is PPC and paid social. This involves using the ad-services on Google, as well as Facebook and Instagram. Paid social ads mean that your content will reach eyeballs that might never have interacted with your brand before (or those that have, that are yet to make a conversion), whereas PPC will put you at the top of a Google results page when potential customers are searching for queries that relate to your business.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Another way to target searchers, and perhaps the most effective, is through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). When your customers search for queries, such as “DIY stores near me” then if your business name appears near the top of that results page, it’s more likely that they’ll come to visit you. In fact, according to Think With Google, 82% of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local business. SEO, the process of improving your website so you rank higher for these terms, is a difficult strategy that takes many years to master, but is a marketing strategy well worth considering. Why? Because you can not only reach a new audience, but also one that’s geo-targeted. Plus, the number of searchers is huge. According to Hubspot, Google processes around 70,000 searches every second.

Which marketing strategies will you be deploying as we move out of lockdown? If you need assistance in social media, PR, PPC, Paid Social, SEO, Influencer Marketing or any other means of communication, then why not send us a message and see how we can support your business?

NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL STORES: HOW TO REBUILD CONSUMER TRUST

On the 15th June 2020, the Government allowed non-essential retail stores to reopen after being initially forced to close in April due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. Since, it’s been a tough ride for business owners. Trying to maintain a level of consumer trust whilst also being unable to operate is difficult. With many workers on furlough and so many businesses having to cease trading in all respects, some companies mightn’t have had the time to work on their communications and brand reputations during the lockdown period. So, if this is you, we’ve put together some advice on how to rebuild consumer trust and your brand image as you reopen today.

Rebuild Consumer Trust With Visibility

Rebuilding trust starts with being transparent and visible. There are a number of channels you can use to communicate with your stakeholders: social media, email, face to face, even through the press by getting publicity for your brand. You’ll also want to reach people that aren’t in your pre-existing consumer pool, too. We’ll touch on rebuilding stakeholder relations further down, but to really get your foot off the ground as non-essential retail stores begin to reopen, you’re going to want to make sure you’re visible to the entire public. As many people as you can be.

Spread the word of your reopening far and wide, make use of social media, and also sponsored posts where appropriate. Generate press coverage for your business and be loud. It’s all about being visible, especially if you trade in a saturated market. Don’t go quite and assume people will remember you – it’s been a torrid time for us all, you’ll need to remind people why they will love your brand. This is the first step of rebuilding trust.

Communicate What You Are Doing Differently

Now that you have the attention of stakeholders, you need to make sure you’re telling them the right thing. When announcing that you are reopening for trading, you’ll also need to communicate at the same time the steps you are taking to be Covid-19 secure. Presently, non-essential retail stores are only allowed to reopen if they can follow the 2m social distancing rules and can put precautions in place to protect shoppers. You’ll likely be doing this, so let your customers know too.

Lockdown has been an extraordinary and unprecedented time for us all, not least in the UK but across the whole world. Consumer attitudes are bound to have shifted and thus it’s only to be expected that some may be reluctant to get back out there and visit retailers such as yourself again. If you want to rebuild consumer trust, you need to be prepared to be very open, honest and detailed about how you are keeping people safe; and more importantly – you need to ensure those responsible measures are adhered to.

It could be as simple as posting on social media the signage you have installed, the sanitation points that you have around stores or the precautions staff are taking when they come into contact with consumers, or you could post updates on your website or email your databases. Have you and your staff taken Covid-19 hygiene courses in preparation? Share that too. There are plenty of ways to put the message across, the most important thing is making sure it’s said one way or another.

Encourage And Share Testimonials

One of the best forms of marketing remains to be WOM (word of mouth). Around 75% of people go to friends of family for product or service recommendations. If you’re offering a great in-store experience that allows customers to feel safe, then it’s likely they’ll tell somebody that they know about it. However, as a business, it helps to move that along even more and encourage wider testimonials. Is there a way you can incentivise customers to review their shopping experience? If so, this is something worth capitalising on as not only does this encourage further support from the public but it also gives you content to leverage on social media to keep on reinforcing and rebuilding consumer trust in your brand.

Don’t Ignore The Situation, Acknowledge It

Finally, it could be tempting to adopt a ‘business as usual’ stance. Not all brands will want to address the issue of Coronavirus head on, perhaps in fears of it putting more fear into consumers or even because simply that’s what everybody else is talking about. However, news concerning Covid-19 is quite frankly unavoidable. It’s fair to assume that almost everyone living in the UK will be aware to some degree of what has happened, and as such to not address it could even be seen as ignorant.

It’s important to acknowledge as a brand why you were closed, why you are now reopening and most importantly – what you have changed. Government regulations aside, you have a duty to your consumers to adopt safe measures as a retailer, being upfront about these is important – if you communicate to your customers and explain that their safety is paramount, this is a good way to rebuild consumer trust and encourage them that it is safe to shop with you.

Need Help To Rebuild Consumer Trust In Your Brand?

If you’re a brand – non-essential retailer or other – and are in need of support as your business reopens, then get in touch with The Source. Whether you’re needing to communicate to your customers, or market to a wider audience, we have experience in both B2B and B2C PR, marketing, social media and digital communications, we can help you.

9 WAYS TO GENERATE PR FOR SMALL BUSINESSES & SMES

Getting publicity for your business, especially in times such as these, is important. A sound PR strategy can help to increase your leads, boost your sales, widen your consumer base and also improve your overall brand awareness. If you’re a small business or SME (turnover of around £1.5m+) it’s important to communicate with your stakeholders and spread the visibility of your brand, so you can turn your SME into a larger scale operation. Chances are, you won’t have a fully-fledged internal PR team to guide your strategies, you might be looking for a PR agency to support your organisation, but until then, we’ve put together 8 easy tips around how to get PR for small businesses and SMEs

Why Bother With PR For Small Businesses & SMEs?

But first, PR (Public Relations) is the function of protecting and improving your brand visibility and reputation.

Not only does it work in safeguarding your brand against any public backlash and handling your communication strategies in a crisis, but a great PR strategy will also help to grow your reputation and make your business name more recognisable amongst your target audience.

This can be through growing your social media following or generating awareness of your business in relevant media outlets – both of these, along with other PR tactics, work to an overall aim of making your small business name more recognisable. They include:

We will touch on them further below.

Some very large organisations may have an in-house PR and marketing team, others, as well as SMEs and smaller businesses, may utilise the support of a PR agency, like ours.

9 Ways To Generate PR For Small Businesses & SMEs

There are a number of ways in which you can generate media attention and publicity for any brand, we have covered them here. With smaller organisations, you may have to work a little harder to get your name out there – there will likely be some degree of competition no matter what industry you’re in, so you need to make your brand memorable.

From our years of experience in PR and Marketing, here’s 8 ideas we would recommend you test to generate PR for your small business

1. First, plan

Know what you want to say and mostly importantly – to whom. What are your USPs, strengths and benefits? How do you want people to see your business? This vital planning will help shape your communications that can be consistently delivered via a number of channels, be it media, social or online.

2. Turn your business stories into news

If you’ve done something amazing as a business, turn it into news and let everyone know about it. For example, if you’re supporting a cause this can help to strengthen your reputation and position you as a responsible business if you spread the word. Likewise, trade titles are often interested in appointments of senior staff. You may be surprised at what makes a good PR story. Start by publishing information on social media, and then perhaps get in touch with the local papers with a press release, to see if they’d like to write about you.

3. Be chatty on social media

One of the best ways to build your brand reputation is to maintain an active voice on social media. PR covers online presence as well as getting media coverage in print, making sure you’re putting out great content on relevant channels and engaging with your customers is a key PR tip for small businesses and SMEs.

4. Communicate consistently

Even in hard times such as the Coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to keep communicating with your consumers. Don’t let them forget about you, and then turn to your competitors instead. As a business, a loyal consumer base is vital so ensure that you remain a consistent flow of communication through avenues such as social media, media appearances, email marketing and so on.

5. Be friendly with journalists

Even if you have no news to share, you can still get PR coverage for your small business or medium enterprise by remaining friendly with journalists; they might be looking for a business to feature in a round up piece – and could opt to use you if you’re on their radar. This tip is better matched with a PR agency, who will have a large database of journalists that they have built.

6. Make use of PPC & social ads

It’s worth considering PPC and social media advertising in your strategy, a great way to generate guaranteed exposure of your organisation. You’ll need to read up on the best keywords to target and then make sure you’re utilising the channels that your target audience frequent the most, but as with any other step, it’s important to remain consistently visible.

7. Consider influencer marketing

Working with influencers is still a viable way of generating PR for your brand, influencers are often trusted sources of information, with around half of Gen Z and millennials saying they trust their opinions. Create a database of reliable accounts and negotiate with them to promote your product or service.

8. Support charities & the local community

Everybody loves a good, positive story… So, make one. You can generate PR for small businesses, SMEs and multi-million-pound businesses by working with and supporting local charities and your community. Whether this is through fundraising, sponsorship or perhaps providing free goods and services to worthy causes. Doing fantastic things is a sure-fire way to achieve regional PR coverage for your small business at the very least.

9. Track & share your coverage

Most importantly, it’s crucial to track any PR coverage you might have achieved and share this to further strengthen your brand’s reputation. If you’re finding it hard to place where your brand might have been covered, you can set up Google Alerts for the name of your business. Be sure to share coverage on the relevant social media channels to further reinforce the integrity of your brand.

If you’re in need of further PR support, then why not arrange a free consultation with us to see how we can help strengthen your reputation and grow your brand. The Source PR is a PR Agency in Cheshire, North West, with over a decade of experience in supporting SMEs to larger corporations with PR, social media, marketing, SEO and more.