Monday Memo: Profiting from the Pandemic

| June 15, 2020

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — You know the story. You’ve probably told it for years. “WHO made money during the 1849 Gold Rush?” It was the guys who sold the maps and picks and shovels… and Levi Strauss.

I thought of Levi the other day when I was having some printing done at FedEx Office, where they sell “Social Distancing Floor Decals,” those big dots we stand on everywhere now. Next door at the gas station, a big sign between pumps: “Feel safe in your car,” with their viral disinfectant “Interior Fogging Service.”

Everywhere we look these days, we see canny entrepreneurs turning lemons into lemonade. Are you?

NOT profiteering. Profiting.

There’s a special place in hell for retailers who suddenly jacked-up prices on in-demand commodities when the shutdown began, and state attorneys general have taken action. And that’s a whole lot different than radio ad rate grids, which simply, deftly, respond to demand. Long-time-no-grid, eh?

Consider the two examples above.

  • The car fogging is a Business-to-Consumer (B-to-C) offer.
  • The floor decals are a Business-to-Business (B-to-B) sale.

Radio can pitch both constituencies.

  • We tend to think B-to-C. And – with adequate frequency + killer copy – no other medium is more efficient.
  • And we should think B-to-B more. Many idea-hungry retailers are heavy news/talk listeners, and many have music FMs on in-store.

 For your next sales meeting…

On-air people: DON’T tune-out. With more cutbacks coming, BE in sales.

At client stations, we’re brainstorming these opportunities:

  • “Get me outta here!” products and services. A TV spot you may have seen really hits the right note: “Feel like getting’ back out? Nissan is ready to help.” After several months cooped-up at home, which local businesses sell to pent-up demand for what’s outside those four walls? And, conversely…
  • “Enhance my cocoon.” Many listeners got whacked, financially, during the shutdown. Many who weren’t remain virus-wary, not eager to fly. Stay-cation will be big this summer. Deck-and-patio guys should be on-air NOW. Ditto pool companies. Who is selling to those who will stick close-to-home?
  • “Do It Myself” also appeals to the newly-frugal. Last summer they had someone mow the lawn. This year, sell them a lawnmower.
  • “Buy/Sell.” Shop for that lawnmower at a pawn shop. If you’ve never been to one, it’s not what you’re expecting. Great place to buy – or sell – tools, and other stuff that’s functional and lots cheaper than new at retail. Jewelers who invite listeners to “bring us that jewelry you haven’t worn in years,” crow that “Gold prices are at a six-year high!” Prospect also: consignment stores.
  • “Bring it here.” Lots of ads we hear for no-contact transactions actually say “no-contact,” though more-nuanced copy might be easier-on-the-ear. While no-touch remains a plus, convenience – especially if the offer touts “Free Delivery” – is what we’ve become accustomed to.
  • “Safety” is key. And who knows that better than the designers now making a bundle selling chic face coverings online. Google it. Major league teams may be sidelined, but their merchandising departments are busy slapping logos on masks loyal fans are strapping-on.

The Plexiglas man is the new Levi Strauss. As phased re-openings torture retailers with reduced capacity and other requirements, stalwart advertisers such as restaurants won’t be as opportune for a while. Pitch businesses that sell products and services for what’s become routine instead.

Stay safe.

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the e-book “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books.  Click the ad banner in the right-hand column on this page for an instant download.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America.  Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice

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