How To Sell During Quarantine

By: Cris Merz

It looks like we are going to experience an economic downturn – maybe it will be short – maybe not. What do small dive centers do about marketing in a time like this? Let’s break quarantine marketing into 3 parts.

Don’t Stop

The normal income channels have switched, or possibly disappeared altogether, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop marketing. Is keeping the same, or similar, ad budget a great idea? Probably not. But, there are still opportunities to build engagement, create content, provide value and capitalize on organic reach – maybe even more than normal. Now is the time to flood social channels and newsletter lists with fun, positive FOMO-based advertising. That is the content people need to see during the quarantine. Break up the monotony of the newsfeed with underwater images, the spirit of adventure, and your smiling face.

Content Ideas

  1. Videos
    Put staff and owners on camera to remind fans that you’re there, helpful, and human. Provide gear maintenance tips, storage and care – or whatever pops to mind. You’re not selling anything here; you’re advertising your expertise by providing valuable insight. Getting your crowd off their couch and touching scuba gear will get them even more excited for their first dive trip. Short cell phone videos, or even live videos, are the perfect mediums to distribute this content.
  2. TBT and FBF
    Take Throwback Thursday (TBT) or Flashback Friday (FBF) and revisit trip reports from the last few years. Tag the former attendees and ask them to share for more exposure to your posts. Daydreaming about Roatan, Truk, and Cozumel is a lot better than mindlessly watching TV. Plus, you can start taking deposits on the 2020 Q3 and Q4 trips.
  3. Customer spotlights
    Have customers post a photo from a favorite dive or trip, tag the store, and tag 3-5 dive friends to share their photos as well. Then you can share the posts to your social channels or make it a feature on your blog or newsletter. Get your vocal customers to seed the first couple, and then watch the posts roll in.
  4. Meetups
    Do you typically do a meetup or monthly party? Host a happy hour or other social meetup through video chat to engage with the customers. Virtual happy hours are also an awesome way to connect with local restaurants and other businesses. Partner up with a local to go restaurant for a diving/drinking/eating evening with customers. Not only does it spread the love, but it also expands the audience. We have been doing this at SDI HQ and have a blast catching up with coworkers and customers over a virtual drink.
  5. Seminars
    Staying loyal to the Meetups concept, find field experts to do a chat with your customers.  Anything.  Photography, shark or all-around marine conservation, history/tech diving/wrecks.  There are plenty of people that are “celebrities” in your community, your country or globally that may be willing to host a webinar and talk about their passion.  Keep people engaged in the wonderful world of scuba and what it has to offer through the eyes of the subject matter experts.

Use the FOMO

FOMO = Fear of Missing Out – which we all have right now. Give them something to look forward to: adventure. People are bored and cooped up. It’s not fun for them to attend a bunch of zoom meetings and Netflix loses its spark after you finish The Tiger King. Reminding your customers of all the fun they had underwater will plant the seed for a post quarantine business boost, which is what businesses and consumers alike are looking forward to. It isn’t being overly positive, it’s being realistic. Things will, eventually, return to a semblance of normal, and people will NEED to travel. Just look at the increase of travel when US flight prices dropped to record lows early last month!

Stay Positive

There is plenty of bleak news out there and it’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity. Don’t. Be there for your customers by reminding them of how cool it is to breathe underwater, see crazy critters, and experience what others cannot. Remember, you don’t run a dive shop and you don’t train scuba divers. You’re in the adventure business. While no one is adventuring right now, they’re dreaming of adventure, and that’s all the marketing you need.

These are just a few quick tips to stay active on your digital channels since there aren’t many other outlets available. Have something that’s working for you that we missed? Pop a comment below to share with other industry professionals!

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