Ask the Experts Episode 1 Q&A: Generating Revenue When Your Doors are Closed

05.08.2020 Alyson Phillips3 min

Welcome to Cox Media’s new webinar series. Titled, “Ask the Experts,” our goal is to do just that – we ask marketing experts some of the questions we hear from local businesses every day. In our first episode, we talked to Amber West, Marketing Manager, and Bill Ottinger, Sr. Creative Consultant, both members of our Phoenix, Arizona team. We asked them, “How can businesses continue to generate business even if their doors are currently closed?”

Amber and Bill shared great examples of businesses, large and small, around the country that are getting creative with how they keep moving forward, even during the tricky circumstances we are all finding ourselves in right now. If you’d like to watch the recording or listen in on that conversation, click here.

After the discussion, we had a lot of thoughtful questions for our guest speakers. We were unable to address all of them in the time that we had, so we followed up with Amber and Bill to get their perspective and advice.

Q: Bill, do you think there has been some consumer fatigue of COVID messaging? Any examples you have seen to avoid?

Bill: My short answer is yes. Based on recent conversations with clients and our own creative team, I think it’s fair to say we’re all ready to move on. And with many states “reopening,” we know businesses are looking for some help making that move with their messaging. For example, we were just on the phone with a local auto dealer. He gave us the green light to move forward with a new branding campaign we’d developed prior to COVID. He’s excited about it and wants it on air right away. It’s clear he’s ready. Ultimately, though, you have to recognize each market is different and you need to be sensitive to the mindset of your community.

Q: Do you foresee any changes to how creative will be perceived with the way that TV is being absorbed due to COVID?

Bill: TV viewing is through the roof! That means we’re all seeing COVID messaging from every company. So the audience is judging. Who’s being true to their brand promise? Who’s pandering? Who’s speaking to me? My advice – be sincere; not self-serving. During this time, you may want to focus more on branding than the product or price. Build goodwill and show your audience you understand and you’re ready to help when they need you. It’s your responsibility to show them you get them. They need to see how you bring value to their lives.

Q: Any ideas on how a home health company might need to change their creative right now?

Bill: Carefully. People who need home health care may be among the most vulnerable right now, so that means taking a deliberate, caring, and measuring approach to messaging. This audience needs reassurance. Let them know what you’re doing to be compliant with CDC regulations and reassure them their safety is important to you.

Amber: It’s important that your creative be thoughtful and empathetic. Searching for in-home care in normal times can be difficult and emotional. Adding the extra stress of doing it during a pandemic must be very overwhelming. I’d suggest highlighting the extra measures you’re taking to ensure the health of your staff and your customers. Also emphasize anything you’re doing to make this process easier on your clients – like one-on-one video conferences, for example. This could be a great way for customers to get to know your caregivers from a distance.

Related: Changing Your Creative Messaging to Support Your Customers

Q: I’ve noticed longer and interactive commercials on over-the-top (OTT). Do you feel this will become the norm after COVID?

Amber: I think we’ll have to wait and see what the effectiveness of the interactive ads are. Currently, Hulu and NBC Universal are experimenting with some interactive OTT ads, but most platforms aren’t. There are a lot of factors at play here – interactive ads require more labor and money to build, the audience size on OTT isn’t as large as linear, and OTT viewers often have a smaller threshold for the number of ads they’re willing to watch per hour. So I think it really comes down to the potential revenue for the publishers and the ROI for the advertiser. Until we know more about those two things, it’s hard to say if this might become the norm moving forward.

Related: What is over-the-top (OTT) advertising and what does it mean for your local business?

Q: How would you recommend handling advertising if the product requires that the customer opens up their home and allows our staff to enter?

Amber: Addressing the concern head-on is the best way to go. Reassure your customers that you are open for business and are taking every precaution to keep them and your staff safe. You’re probably already reviewing the CDC guidelines and adjusting your operations accordingly, but make sure you tell your customers exactly what those changes are. Maybe it’s sanitizing equipment frequently, wearing booties inside homes, or taking temperatures of all staff members prior to their shift. Communicating what you’re doing to keep your customers safe will give them the peace of mind they need.

Bill: Families need to know you get it. Let them see you recognize their concerns and be empathetic and reassuring. If they’re comfortable on camera, I’d recommend featuring the owner of the business in the commercial. Saying something as simple as, “We’re doing everything we can to protect you. You have my word,” can go a long way when they hear it straight from you. Be sincere and not self-serving.

Q: Any [advertising] suggestions for a professional dance company?

Amber: Assuming the dance company generates revenue from live performances and/or classes to dance students, both can be done virtually! We’ve seen quite a few dance companies create and host live classes using Instagram or Facebook Live. You could also offer on-demand classes on your website where students have to pay a one-time or ongoing subscription fee to access them. You might also consider focusing more heavily on merchandising – selling clothing, water bottles, etc. – to generate revenue right now.

Q: Do you have any advice for pivoting fundraising events for a nonprofit that typically sees audiences of 500 – 2,000 people?

Amber: We’ve all become a little more tech savvy in the past couple months. We’ve had to. Many of us are working from home and using different video apps to stay connected. For the nonprofit sector, who often relies on large events for fundraising, things will be challenging for the next few months, but not impossible! You’ll have to get creative and think through the different technology that’s available that can allow you to create something fun, meaningful, and effective – but also safe. Platforms like Zoon and Facebook or Instagram Live could be great options for that. Maybe you consider partnering with businesses that are thriving right now – like Blue Apron or Dinnerly – to offer a special edition box for your digital event.

Q: Do you have any recommendations for the attorney category?

Bill: As with any brand or product, I’d say stay true to who you are and the advantage that differentiates you from your competition. One concept we developed with an attorney was to let them speak to their “why.” In a departure from their more traditional approach, we gave voice to what motivates this firm – that they understand their clients’ frustrations and are working for them. The voice-over was a bit understated to underscore the sincerity and the more subdued tone was a stark contrast to the other attorneys on air. The quiet spoke volumes.

As you can see, we had so many strong, thought-provoking questions during our first “Ask the Experts” webinar. If you’d like to brainstorm ideas for your business, our local marketing experts are here to help. For current Cox Media clients, simply reach out to your rep and they, along with the local marketing team, will be happy to sit down with you (virtually, of course) and brainstorm some ideas. If you’re not a Cox Media client, simply fill out the contact us form here on our website, or call 1-855-755-2691.

About the Author

Alyson Phillips

Alyson is the Director of Marketing at Cox Media’s corporate offices in Atlanta. With a background in journalism and over a decade of experience in brand marketing, she has a passion for connecting brands to their customers through powerful storytelling. In her role, she’s responsible for amplifying the Cox Media brand in the communities we serve nationwide – whether through advertising, thought leadership, or the customer experience. When she’s not working, she’s chasing around her twin toddlers and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

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