Steve Hutchinson and Don Landels of Treehouse Media are experts in connecting brands to consumers in memorable ways through traditional and digital media advertising. They specialize in customized campaigns that include detailed reporting, analysis, copywriting, graphic and web design and strategic planning.
How different do you think the post-COVID consumer will be to the pre-COVID consumer, based on the first few weeks of the pandemic and your own personal observations?
The post-COVID consumer is going to be highly sensitive to their environment when venturing out to a service provider (salons, chiropractors, etc.) or retailer (eg., furniture store, eyewear store). Not only will all of these companies need to have implemented strict hygiene protocols, but they must also demonstrate those protocols. It’s important to tell consumers what you are doing and let them be part of the journey.
We feel that consumers have pent-up needs to spend on items that will make them feel comfortable. The key to success will be trying to keep that money local rather than it going to big box stores or through large e-commerce operations such as Amazon. That doesn’t mean saying “Hey, we’re local, so buy from us,” but rather “We have the best product at a competitive price and we’re here to help you make the best possible buying decision for your money.”
How would you recommend businesses use advertising channels to reach their desired consumer right now?
Victoria is quite unique in that traditional media (radio, newspaper, TV, magazines and outdoor advertising) remain strong. While the ideal advertising mix varies radically within each industry, we find that digital, when combined with the brand-building efforts of traditional media, results in the best return on investment for an advertiser. People like to buy from companies that they know. You might not care about your car windshield when it works, but when it breaks, you will Google “windshield repair” and deal with the company that appears near the top of the page, particularly if you have a good feeling about that brand because you’ve heard of them before.
We are seeing a strong shift to online shops and businesses going digital. Is there any advice you would like to give businesses who are making that shift and looking to drive awareness and engagement online?
Going digital will be an important initiative for many clients in the coming months. However, clients need to prepare themselves with learning a whole new language. Additionally, they’ll need to up their game when it comes to tracking, optimization and performing adjustments to make the campaigns successful. Clients can rarely “set it and forget it” and achieve long term success. If you don’t have the skills in this area, hire someone who is willing to work with you to teach you what you need to know.
Recently, we made a proposal to a client and showcased to them the difference between a 2% conversion rate (losing money every month), a 5% conversion rate (break-even) and a 10% conversion rate (very optimistic). Make sure you crunch the numbers first before investing thousands of dollars marketing your new website. Digital marketing is very much like direct mail. Test and adjust. Test and adjust.
Coming out of the curve, what percentage of their revenue or operating budget should businesses set aside, on average, for an effective share of voice in the Vancouver Island market?
This is a difficult question to answer as it varies so greatly based on a number of factors:
– Current awareness levels (well-established brand or new upstart)
– Interest in category (people actively looking for your product or only need you when they need you (eg., locksmith)
– Competitiveness of business category
– Other factors
As we prepare to come out of the curve, we are recommending clients exercise caution and set realistic budgets. We feel that the return to the new-normal will be long and over-spending during this time could put companies in a position of not having enough when the opportunity best presents itself.
What marketing and media buying advice do you have for small businesses as we navigate this time of economic uncertainty?
That really has not changed from what it’s always been: Focus on your best customers. Do the research about where these customers live, what they read, watch, listen to or browse through. Have a balance between top of funnel and bottom of funnel activities. Negotiate for the best value (not always the same as the best rate). Hold your marketing partners to task with clear reporting that provides reasonable actions that can be implemented easily. And ask your marketing partner to educate you on how you can best take advantage of new digital platforms to create profitable and intrusive campaigns.