The Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast is going unfiltered. Ready, set, action. Staying relevant, today we’re talking through some COVID marketing strategies. Questions like: Are you open? Do I need a mask? Are hours the same? Can I call? are the new normal these days and having your content updated can make or break your business. 

  • Are you potential customers getting the right information? [02:23]
  • Talking about what you’re doing for COVID can actually help you get to the top of search results. [05:44]
  • Marketing and advertising spend during a pandemic. [07:10]

Resources Mentioned: 


Intro: You're listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast with Jon Ballard and Evan Facinger.

Evan Facinger: All right. Welcome to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat. How are you doing, Jon?

Jon Ballard: Hey, good. Evan, how are you?

Evan Facinger: I'm doing well, thanks. And I got to say, I'm feeling actually less pressure when I feel like I should be actually probably feeling more pressure because we're going to start doing things a little different on this podcast, aren't we?

Jon Ballard: Yeah, man. We've been talking about turning more of these out because our fans just have to have more and they keep asking, right? All two of you, appreciate that. So we thought about just maybe turning this into raw, unfiltered and unedited just so we could get a little bit more content out there. Quite honestly, you can hear our highs, lows, and mistakes that way.

Evan Facinger: Exactly. So when we make a mistake, it'll still be in there. We're not going to take it out. We're just going raw and unfiltered here. We're just going to keep rolling and stop editing these, so I hope we can keep it up and keep doing good.

Jon Ballard: Yeah. So what are we talking about today, Evan?

Evan Facinger: Well, I think we were talking about this a little bit and now it's still timely. I know it just seems like it shouldn't be anymore because of how long COVID and the coronavirus has really been impacting businesses all across the country and all across the world, quite frankly. But it's still something that we need to consider and especially as states are talking about even locking things down, even more, it's staying top of mind. So I'd like to go over some of the things that businesses can do online to make sure that A) they're not going to lose any ground that they can try to maintain with. But B) are there other opportunities out there. So, kind of chat through some COVID marketing strategies.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, it amazes me how many people really haven't been updating their customers on their websites or even Google My Business right now. I was going to a store the other day here in town and I was just wondering, "Do I have to wear a mask? Are they even open? Do they let customers in? What's the policy?" And it didn't look like they'd updated anything on their site, no COVID policies or anything like that. So, yeah, where do you want to start? I mean ...

Evan Facinger: I think that's a great place to start. First and foremost what you have to do is update your website, update your Google My Business listing. Make sure that you're letting your potential customers know what's going on and that's not just for businesses that require customers to actually go to their facilities, whether it's a restaurant or a retail store or anything like that. Even manufacturing companies, people are wondering, "Can I call? Are you open? What are you doing right now for COVID? Are the hours the same?" So making sure that all of that information is updated and that you're addressing it is going to alleviate all those concerns.

Evan Facinger: Because when somebody goes on and they search for you and are looking at your Google My Business listing, like you said, if there's nothing that's even referencing it, at the end of the day, that person's not going to know if that information is still accurate or not on there.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, so let's start with Google My Business. I mean, for those of you that have been living under a rock and don't have it yet, you need to do that. It's free. It's the new phone book, right? I don't know how a business can function without Google My Business. We get some blowback. We work for a lot of B2B manufacturers, "Why do I need Google My Business?" But once we get them set up, it's amazing how many people come through there, find their phone number through there, look at their address, all that kind of stuff. So if you haven't claimed it yet, do that. Here's a really interesting thing I learned just the other day.

Jon Ballard: My brother-in-law has a seasonal fireworks business and he'd never claimed his business. They don't have a mailbox out front. The phone wasn't even like, the right number on Google My Business, so he didn't know, really, what to do. So he called into Google My Business, actually got ahold of somebody, which I was amazed by. Then they set up a time to do a video conference verification, which I didn't even know was possible. So what they did is they had him walk around his store with the video conference on his phone and they made sure he was legit, then they gave him access. Because ... Actually, pretty cool. Did you know they could do that, Evan?

Evan Facinger: Yeah, I've heard about the video conferencing a few times with people having issues with Google My Business, more than a new business, getting it set up. It's good to hear when they do things like that because there's a lot of spam on Google My Business. You have a lot of those lead generation companies that are essentially just creating those listings and trying to get local leads and sell them off to other companies, so glad that they're making those steps.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, so anyway, I thought that was cool and he was able to get it in there. He was having the same problem. People wanted to know if he was open, what the hours were and if they had to wear masks and all that stuff. So perfect example of somebody that needed to get that up to date.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. Then also, are your services different at all? Not just are you open and do you have to wear mask and all of that really critical information but are you doing things a little differently? Because even in the states, in the areas where dining is available and dining is open, not all restaurants are offering dine-in yet. Some of them still have that closed down. So make sure that you're listing that and have that option available, checked if they're available to come in for dine-in or if it's still take-out only or if you're offering delivery now and maybe never offered delivery before, which is something that, me, as a person who likes to have food brought to their house, is kind of excited to see more places be able to do that. But having that information is going to be key, as well.

Jon Ballard: One other thing that I felt was interesting along this topic is Vrbo, Airbnb, those companies. My wife and I have a little side business where we rent out some vacation properties. They are actually really on top of how to get to the top of their search results. One of the things that they're really pushing is show people what you're doing for COVID right off the search listing, the headline, and maybe even gotten as far as you can get certified for COVID cleaning. But it's so important to people, if they're thinking about coming to your restaurant, that they understand what steps you're taking and why are you sanitizing; are you doing this, that, the other. So Airbnb, Vrbo are picking up on that. I imagine Google and some other search engines are, as well. It's just good for your consumers.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, exactly. That's a great point is that there's going to be a whole subset of the population that that's a primary concern of theirs. Not only can I go there, but am I going to feel safe there? What are you doing to make me as safe as possible if I am going to go to that establishment there. So having that, being in front of that, that's going to make sure that there's not any questions. And people, quite frankly, if they have questions and they're not sure, they're probably just not going to show up.

Jon Ballard: Yeah. If a competitor is doing it, so they'd rather go there.

Evan Facinger: That brings me to another point here is as long as your production can handle it, whether it's you're actually ... can only have a certain amount of people come into a restaurant or if you're producing something and you need workers to do it. If you can handle the threshold and handle the production side of things where you can bring in more business, now is not the time to pull back on your marketing and advertising spend. We're seeing this all across the board.

Evan Facinger: At first, when this happened, there was a lot of companies that didn't want to advertise too much. They wanted to hold back, kind of take that wait-and-see approach. Because of that, a lot of the companies that we are working with that didn't do that, we are seeing a lot lower cost per clicks all across the board on the ads that we are running because there wasn't as much competition out there for it.

Evan Facinger: Now, I would say, they're not quite at pre-COVID levels, at least in most areas, but they're certainly trending up and getting higher for it. We're finding all of, basically, every time something like this happens when there's a lot of pullback, marketing can be a quick cut, I think, in a lot of people's eyes. But it's the ones that keep continuing to market during the downtimes, they have a lot better better times because they can keep going for it and capitalize on less competition and getting in front of more people because the consumers are still out there right now.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, it's interesting. For our business, web design, marketing, we've seen a definite pullback in big projects starting. So the big, massive website redesigns, along with the capital-heavy projects that people were thinking of doing were put on hold. But at the same time, we are now seeing a lot more people that are researching and out looking for prices. So maybe there's not as much going on in their business, so they're using this as a time to gear up and get planning for those big things. So we expect, at least in our world, lots of products coming in, in the near future.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, the bounce back, when it all comes.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, so we're actually, right now, hiring, in anticipation of that, trying to get ahead of it a little bit because, like I said, I don't feel that we're seeing more quotes in queue than we've going on right now.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. It's hard to make a decision when you don't know where things are going. And you're right, there's really two camps. There's the camp of, "Well, I'm going to spend this time and use this time that I have available to really kind of see, do some research, be prepared for when things are back to where they were or the new normal, as everybody says." And then the other camp of just pulling back completely. I think that it's a mistake to pull back completely and I'm glad that you don't see too much of that.

Evan Facinger: You're always wondering for them, but it's always good to see customers that are forward-thinking and all the different companies that are really pushing it out there and just trying to take this as where it's at right now, but still, knowing that business at some point, needs to keep moving at the end of the day and keep trying to make that progress, especially now with trade shows. They're not looking like they're going to be back anytime soon and you need to find those leads elsewhere.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, it's an interesting point. I mean, I can go back to the, "Oh, how can I change this? How can I change the perception? How can I disrupt things a little bit?" I mean, again, back to the vacation rental thing I was talking about, we take, typically, 60-day rentals. We take cabins. People take time to fly in and it's usually families coming from all over and with schedules. But what we saw is lately, people don't want to commit six to eight months out.

Jon Ballard: They want to take that last-minute vacation, so if I change an early cancellation policy to be real loose where they can cancel within the whole week of coming, that one's really picked up again. So what's the roadblock for your customers in coming again? How can you change that, look at what their concerns are, and try to address that upfront?

Evan Facinger: Exactly. It's the new normal. How can you make it work? Don't keep trying to force it to go back to the way that you always had it before. What could you do to disrupt it and make it different and make it better and capitalize on it? That's a great point.

Jon Ballard: Yeah. Yeah.

Evan Facinger: What do you think? Should we end it on that note? Do you have other-

Jon Ballard: No. No, I think that's good. Again, if you haven't gotten on Google My Business and updated that, please do. If you need help, give us a call. We can help you get set up on that and then make sure you're getting your website updated. And think about how you can take advantage of a strange time. I think that's what sticks with me. Am I looking for new opportunities to use this to my advantage? But, at least, capitalize on the situation or the hand you're dealt.

Evan Facinger: Exactly. You got to make the best of what you can and make sure that you're using the tools that are out there.

Jon Ballard: Yeah. So thanks for the time today and we'll talk to you soon.

Evan Facinger: All right. Sounds good. Thank you.

Jon Ballard: Yep.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat Podcast. Don't forget to like and subscribe so you can stay on top of your game by never missing an episode. You can find even more marketing insights and show transcripts at foremostmedia.com.