How can the MICE industry do digital marketing during COVID-19?
- Focus on your customers
- Make your brand visible
Head of the WARC APAC advisory Ashiq Ashokan opened up his discussion on “Marketing in the COVID-19 Recession” at MICEConline 2020 by telling the audience that “there is no silver bullet that can save us from this misery”. Indeed, COVID-19 has brought about searing negative effects on the economy. Many industries were blindsided by the pandemic, which has abruptly changed the way things are done. How can you keep up with the change? One of the ways is by discussing digital marketing for the MICE industry during COVID-19.
For the MICE industry, exhibition spaces and convention centers were temporarily closed off because of health and safety concerns not only of the attending visitors but all key players in the events industry. Almost anything that demanded physical presence inevitably began to adopt digital strategies where events and meetings were held online. It seemed as if one of the main sources of income for these industries were suddenly cut short.
Despite all of this, digital marketing is now more important than ever. More than just the MICE industry being able to gain exposure for their brand, it’s all about finding creative ways of tapping into their customer base and seeing something valuable out of this.
Although there is an understanding that increasing spending on advertising and digital marketing may be non-intuitive during this time, the industry cannot underestimate the valuable long-term effects that they will get out of doing so.
Focus on Your Customers
Ashik Ashokan is responsible for the advertising and campaign strategies of big brands, government organizations, and other Fortune 500 companies. As such, he understands all too well the importance of advertising during this time.
When businesses advertise, what do they want to get out of it? The main benefit is ultimately revenue. Advertising is essentially a tool to get customers to try out your product or to buy your service. But with an unprecedented situation and a recession, is digital marketing and advertising still really important?
Now, more than ever, these two are certainly still important. Companies should begin focusing on what they can do for their customers while not forgetting the fact that they should be getting something out of it as well.
It’s also important that companies don’t remain functional during this time, but instead, adopt a more emotional approach. The MICE industry needs to stay relevant despite the circumstances. They have to be able to show emotion, empathize with the customers, and really let them know that they can bring something of value to the table.
Let’s take a look at the World Trade Center Metro Manila for inspiration. Being an events space and an exhibition center, the business was prohibited from hosting any events that would translate into a mass gathering. However, instead of WTCMM allowing their exhibition halls and function rooms to just gather dust until the pandemic was over, they transformed the place into a “We Heal As One Center” or WHAOC isolation facility for COVID-19 patients.
According to Ashokan, it’s in situations like these — where the industry is putting themselves to the level of their customers and “demonstrating their care for the community” — where companies can capitalize on financial growth in the future.
Make Your Brand Visible
The MICE and hospitality industries may be tempted to go incognito during these times. It won’t be surprising for many industries and companies that they will eventually cut down on costs and slash their budgets. Unfortunately, media spendings and ad investments may also be affected by these measures.
While these actions may be cost-effective, it’s still important for these industries to maintain their visibility during this time. This can be done by developing innovations in the companies’ products and services portfolio.
As mentioned before, these same industries might just be tempted to follow the herd mentality and simply do what everyone is doing. This is precisely evident in cases where companies resort to issuing blanket statements like “due to COVID-19” or “we’re doing our best for our customers during these trying times”.
Overall, these kinds of statements do not really do anything for the customers. Think about it: what will they do with that knowledge? Keeping this in mind, the industries should instead focus on creative avenues and strategies where they could still be able to promote brand awareness and exposure.
Take the MICEConline 2020 for starters — the entire series focused on virtual webinars and online discussions that discussed relevant themes and topics that were valuable for its target audience. These sessions have proven to still retain the level of engagement and interaction that the MICECON events in the past were able to exhibit.
Especially now, the MICE industry shouldn’t discount the importance of collaboration. Around this time, the industry will need all the help that they can get. Being a lone wolf isn’t really a good strategy — what companies would rather be doing instead is to come up with a creative and powerful campaign that will have equal benefits for those involved.
You also don’t even have to look far to witness this kind of collaboration — it’s taking place just right before your very eyes with MICEConline 2020.
Observe how this series of webinars and talks eventually became a campaign that brought strategists, media analysts, advertisers, consultants, and all industry stakeholders together. People from various walks of the industry are collaboratively banding together to share their thoughts and offer invaluable insight for renewing, rebooting, and revitalizing during COVID-19.
Advertising and marketing strategist Ashik Ashokan encourages the MICE sector to adopt a renewed focus and approach on digital marketing for the MICE industry during COVID-19.
For Ashokan, it’s crucial that the industry begins to focus on these three things: customers, collaboration, and visibility. This is not the right time to lay low. Instead, strike while the iron is still hot — while the market is still in the throes of the pandemic.
Though there is still a long road ahead for these industries, adopting these important strategies right now even as the crisis is on-going will eventually prove to be advantageous.