Local Businesses Are Better Marketers Than National Advertisers

So, how are you doing?

Me? Well, I have been working from home since 2013, so that part of our new society is not really new to me. My wife worked from home for a long time as well but was suckered back into office life a little over a year ago, and now she misses it.

What is new to me (apart from all the obvious things like social distancing when walking the dog), is the fact that the dog and I have company all day. As said, my wife is working from home, and my son, a high school senior, is home as well. And I am not traveling for business anymore.

I consider myself very lucky. I still have active clients and projects, and my wife’s company is on the list of “essential businesses.”That means we are not struggling to get food on the table, for now. And our extended families around the world are healthy and safe.

Others are not so lucky.

As always, there are the haves and have-nots in our marketing and advertising ecosystem. The haves are sub-divided into a group that represent aforementioned essential services.



And then there is a second group of businesses that have found a way to struggle through by being creative and stubborn: Farmers who are creating direct-to-home sales offerings. Curb-side retail. Pickup and delivery restaurant food. Groceries through your fast-casual restaurants. All of them saying: “This is better than nothing.”

These businesses are marketing and advertising these offerings through -- my observation, not data -- mostly social media and a significant amount of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and other messaging apps. 

This week, via a neighborhood Messenger group, we were offered a gallon-per-household purchase of hand sanitizer, made by a local brewery. Two weeks ago, during the height of the great toilet paper recession, someone sold their surplus toilet paper inventory through the same group in my neighborhood. Showmars, a local fast casual restaurant, was the first one out of the gates selling grocery items, and I learned about this through a local Facebook group.

On national and local TV, I see that car manufacturers have pivoted to far less appealing and relevant messaging. It goes something like this: “We know times are tough. We are all stronger together. Please buy our car. We will waive you a few months of payments.” 

American Airlines, who like all other airlines were forced to keep a totally unnecessary skeleton flight schedule in place to qualify for a bailout, and is flying empty planes, has emailed me twice in the past few weeks with offerings to buy additional airmiles at a discount. Airmiles for what? When are we going to fly again? Who says American will still be flying at that time? And who says I will even want to fly again?

Like local entrepreneurs, some really good work is done by national advertisers, and it is done outside of the media. Wyndham Hotels offering first responders their elite membership level and discounted or even free rooms. Hanes and H&M are making face masks and hospital scrubs. And the good news is: These companies do not need to advertise their good deeds to the public. The local news and word of mouth are desperate for some positive news and are eagerly sharing. I bet you that the brand impact of that is infinitely more powerful than offering 0% interest.

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