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If not now, when?

Why hospitality businesses need to embrace digital now

Strategy, Digital

16th February 2021

amber Clemente - Account Director - North America

There is no better time to super-charge your marketing budget

Now might not seem like the most obvious time to invest in marketing, after the huge Covid-headache we’ve all had to endure. It feels a bit like asking Mom and Dad for a raise in your weekly allowance after the house has just burned down.

But to quote the great strategist, Sun Tzu: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” (Or for you Game of Thrones fans out there, “Chaos is a ladder.”)

Keep scrolling for a few considerations on how to successfully manage this chaos, including our post-Covid marketing checklist at the end.


“Everything must go!”

A lot of brands pulled the plug on advertising at the height of the Covid crisis. With no cash flow – and for many restaurants and bars, no actual product to sell – they couldn’t justify the cost. But with big brands out of the picture, it paved the way for small and niche brands to buy advertising space cheaply – did you notice a surge of ads on your feed from strange and obscure brands during peak-lockdown? That’s why.

Increased share of voice

The point is that if you maintain your advertising budget during a recession, you will grow your share of voice, as other brands withdraw. Share of voice correlates with market share, and there is evidence that if you increase your budget you will emerge from the recession stronger and in growth. This is famously how then-new Kellogg’s got a foothold in the market during the Great Depression. With few others advertising, the plucky cereal brand quickly penetrated the market and established itself as America’s favorite breakfast food. And the rest is history.

An investment, not a cost

Marketing is an investment, not a cost. In turbulent times, if there is any money there is no better way to spend it than on increasing your presence. Be visible and build your brand.

You might be thinking: “Well I get that because I’m a marketer and I always want to build my brand, but how the hell do I convince my FD?!”

Digital marketing

Digital for tangible results

The market has been shaken up, and our approach as marketers needs to change, too. We’ve re-worked our campaign approach to focus on high performing campaigns – with minimal investment. By keeping a tight focus on one specific objective and a strong core message, we’ve been able to make budgets work harder.

Whether it’s a reopening campaign, new menu launch or holiday planning, performance-focused campaigns will deliver the results you (and your FD) need. With clear, measurable objectives you can deliver a demonstrable, positive Return On Ad Spend (ROAS), and with fewer buyers in the market that ROAS will be even more impressive.

Hospitalit-E-commerce is here to stay

E-commerce will undoubtedly become a significant ongoing part of hospitality businesses’ revenue streams and a comprehensive e-commerce strategy is essential. Proven channels and tactics should be implemented to drive traffic to your shop and convert browsers into buyers. An additional major benefit of e-commerce marketing is trackable revenue. Every marketer in hospitality has faced the inevitable challenges from finance on their budget. The perennial question: ‘how do you know that will work?’ With online transactions, that’s no longer the case: spend $1, get $10 back – that’s an argument no one can argue with.

e-commerce is here to stay

And of course, your online shop needs to be on point. A well-designed e-shop that is optimized for conversions and part of your own branded digital ecosystem will set you up for success. Ignite’s e-commerce platform for hospitality, Fuse, enables you to easily sell everything for your restaurant, bar or pub through a single platform on your own website. Whether it’s click and collect, at home meal kits or gift vouchers, Fuse puts everything under one roof.

See how we delivered remarkable ROAS with performance and e-commerce campaigns for Cafe Murano and D&D London and a sales-driving game for Carluccio’s.


marketing checklist


Post-Covid marketing checklist

As vaccine distribution is rolled out over the coming months, and customer confidence begins to strengthen, the hospitality industry will begin to show signs of life, and there’s never been a more important time to invest in your brand. Use our marketing checklist to get your digital house in order and prep for success over the coming months:

  • Website health-check – the foundation for success. Your site needs fresh content to show you’re open for business and should make it easy for people to find what they need. Make sure all your tracking and pixels are implemented before doing any advertising.
  • Product and brand extensions – Look at your product range and consider opportunities for online distribution. What products or experiences could you sell online? Think laterally – what brand extensions could you develop that are in step with your brand?
  • Search – Be there for people searching for businesses like yours with Search PPC ads. These should definitely prove a positive and direct ROAS because you’re capturing demand that’s already there – people actually looking for restaurants or bars in your location. Don’t lose those people to competitors.
  • Get your brand in order – A good campaign angle is key. What’s your message now? “We’re here, we’re open!” won’t cut it. Brief a great agency 👀 to help you develop a strong concept that will drive interest and speak to whatever it is that makes your brand special.
  • Content, content content – Develop a content plan that reaches your target audience at each stage of the buying journey. Make it easy for them to understand what it is you do, and for them to make a purchase. Your creative and content needs an edge to stand out, so be bold and open when developing ideas.
  • Set goals and objectives – Be clear about what you want to achieve. Make sure your agency gives you benchmarks and KPIs so you can report on success.

It’s all up for grabs

There’s a huge opportunity to steal market share and set your brand up for success. The next few months aren’t going to be easy – but investment in marketing isn’t an optional extra – it’s what’s going to separate the winners from the losers.

2021. It’s all up for grabs.

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