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Don’t Quarantine Your Dive Marketing

Opinion: Continuing to market now can draw customers (and growth) later.
By William Cline | Updated On May 19, 2020
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Don’t Quarantine Your Dive Marketing

PADI dive shop in the Maldives

“The first thing brands have to do is not think about today, but about how they want their brand to be perceived when the world starts to return to normal.” - Forrester Research

I borrowed the title of this article from someone I follow that is a SEO expert, Bruce Clay, and his words of wisdom apply to our dive industry now more than ever. We are all facing massive business income reductions, no matter if you are a dive instructor, retailer, resort, magazine or manufacturer, we are all equally affected by this current crisis. The most typical reaction I have seen is to conserve all cash, cut expenses and ‘hunker down’ to wait out this hurricane-like event.

I would like to propose another approach, one that still fits into the ‘conserve and cut’ model, yet allows your marketing to remain active, therefore support those vendors and ultimately, helping with the recovery process with your business for when this crisis ends. Most vendors are in the same boat as your company. If you’re a retailer, customers can’t visit your shop, depending on where you live. If you’re a resort or tropical dive operator, you are at the mercy of your local governments, and when they shut down flights, business comes to a halt. But your expenses do not. I mostly deal with the latter, and all of my resort, liveaboard or tourism clients are struggling, but the key will be in the recovery.

We all foresee at least two to three months of minimal travel, but when this virus is under control, and that will happen, we will have a large pent up demand for diving. I like to tell my clients, ‘adventure is in a diver’s DNA,’ they seek the unique experience, hard-to-get-to dive spots, and pay for the experience far above average consumers or tourists. This marks my 30th year of marketing dive services and products for our industry’s companies and governments. We have seen stock market crashes in the late 90’s and 2008, and the closest thing to this crisis was 9/11, in terms of travel stoppage.

However, Forrester Research, one of the largest media research company’s suggests: “The first thing brands have to do is not think about today, but about how they want their brand to be perceived when the world starts to return to normal.” I am not suggesting we pretend like things are normal in any fashion, as we have to acknowledge the current conditions, but there is nothing to say we should not focus on encouraging consumers to plan late summer, fall and winter travel, classes or purchases.

My recommendations are to contact your media vendors and ask if they would be willing to delay billing, or even finance your 2020 expenditures into 2021. They are in the same position as you and chances are they are still going to send that email blast, and still going to print that issue. Plus with everyone at home in front of computers and on their phones, digital websites will see more traffic then over the next 60 days. Working with your media partners to ‘keep the lights on’ marketing-wise, could turn out to be the smartest move to not only help your company or brand recover quickly, but helps out those vendors as well. As I said, and I think most people will agree, future income is better than no income.

Peter Shankman, a digital maven says “Everything is Shut Down. Except you. You’re Still Very Much Alive” in other words we have to move on with our lives and protect our brands. This too shall pass… But from many examples over the history of our country, those brands that keep their message relevant and in front of your consumers, recover far more quickly than those that go dark. Coca Cola kept marketing during the great depression in the 1930s, and at the time Pepsi was a rival, among other soda brands. Coke pulled so far ahead of Pepsi it took until the mid 90s to catch up to Coke’s marketshare (a great read since your home: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: Al Ries, Jack Trout).