No doubt, small to midsize businesses are being challenged financially like never before during the COVID-19 crisis. We are not as mobile as we were a few weeks ago -- that is just a fact -- but there is still need in our communities for groceries and other essentials, which at times includes just being outdoors. With so many of us spending most of the day in our homes with every member of our family (that’s seven people total for myself…yes, it can get crazy), the actual demand for goods and services from local stores and vendors is at an all-time high. Now is a good time for every business to assess how they are going to be impacted by policies forced on communities during this crisis. But it’s also a good time for every business to assess how their goods or services are needed in their communities.
Out of home canvases give businesses the platform to do that very thing. OOH assets remain right there in front of us when people are making the necessary trips to the bank or to the market. In the last few weeks, many campaign ideas and media assets have shifted to better address consumers during this time; for example, by utilizing local in-neighborhood assets or mobile solutions. As a creative, it’s always a stimulating challenge to help businesses find ways to connect with their audiences, especially when getting down to the community level with messaging and creative that really matters in these trying times.
Jewel ran a campaign recently that shows just how small businesses remain plugged into what their communities need and adjusted their messaging accordingly. Just as the impact of COVID-19 was making headlines about the effects it would have on employment, the grocer let the community know it was hiring. And in another campaign, the store was able to let the community know about hard-to-find items that were now in stock. Billboards put this messaging right at street level in targeted communities, where it was most impactful. In addition, combining the static creative with mobile advertising have made these billboard campaigns even more relevant.
Acting fast and thinking about a client’s immediate needs and opportunities helps our business, helps our clients' businesses, and can give back to the community. Families may be at home now more than ever, so naturally they are looking for ways to keep their families entertained. I’ve been taking my children with me to get our car washed in our local neighborhood and it is often the most exciting trip we take all week. But the thing that’s truly exciting about that “field trip” isn’t that we got out of the house, but that we helped. We, as part of our community, helped a business. That is how we weather this storm.
Similarly, to help the restaurant industry many of us have felt compelled to keep bringing in take-out meals because we want to show support for local merchants facing adversity. We want to support the hourly workers at these establishments who won’t have much of a nest egg to land on if they lose their jobs. A local restaurant in Florida recently made the decision to remain open to serve its community. The company shifted its creative on our digital boards to highlight drive-thru capabilities and changed the messaging of their current campaign to highlight hours of operation for its drive thru.
Also in Florida, museums, entertainment venues and even Disneyland shut their doors because large gatherings are prohibited. Our Orlando team saw an opportunity to help an existing client offer the kind of safe family outings the community needed. So Wild Florida started a campaign to promote its drive-thru safari and updated their messaging to reflect situational relevance to social distancing. Now who would have thought that would become such a popular phrase? Maybe some of us with kids were already practicing "social distancing" with things like "time-out." But today it is more than words; it’s how we are living our lives, it's how we plan our days and ironically it has become a call to strengthen our communities.
If you are a small businesses owner reading this, please know we are here for you and will be here for you when you are ready and able. We can all hope that there will soon be federal and state assistance to help small businesses and their workers, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with telling the communities you serve that you're open for business and ready to assist them. Every great business has to be a good neighbor first.
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