Industry Marketing Analysis: Tourism 

The tourism industry was one of the hardest hit by the events of the last 18 months – but much like a river, dammed up and ready to burst as soon as it is able, the desire for getting “back to normal” is stronger than ever. Though it may be a trickle for a while before it can fully flow, this gradual return is exactly what is projected for the industry, through 2021 and beyond. 

 

Defining Tourism 

Tourism is an incredibly unique industry, because the very product is subjective to its consumer. For example, every visitor to an equatorial resort can have a wildly different experience: some might love the food, while others might get sick; some may love the sounds of nature, while others will be tired of the crickets by the first night.  

Because of this subjectivity, the tourism marketing opportunities needed to capture a specific audience must target the exact highlights that a potential traveler is desperate to find, relive, or experience. 

 

Tourism Statistics in 2021 

The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing shutdowns absolutely walloped the tourism industry – data on International travelers to Canada (courtesy of Statistics Canada, and presented in graphical form here) <CHART> shows that the number dropped to less than 10% of the previous year for January and February. March is starting to show as a relative bright spot, with 16.2% of 2020’s inbound travelers (this data is also from the Stats Canada link above). Further, in the period from January 2020 to November 2020, no Canadian industry sector was struck harder than tourism regarding policies and practices designed to limit COVID-19 transmission (source: page 14). 

In spite of those hopeful upturns, the tourism industry is not quite out of the woods yet. The United Nations World Tourism Organization said in January that international travels fell off by 74% in 2020, that destinations welcomed 1 billion fewer international arrivals in 2020 than the previous year, and that this represented a loss of $1.3 trillion USD in export revenues. 

While Canada’s tourism gross domestic product is small relative to the big picture – just $39.72 billion in 2019 versus the slightly larger $1.645 trillion CAD total GDP – other nations are staggeringly dependent on tourism dollars. Macau, Maldives and Seychelles round out the top three nations with the highest percent of 2019 GDP tied up in travel and tourism, at 72%, 66.1%, and 65.8%, respectively – Macau’s GDP plummeted to $24.33 billion USD in 2020, compared to $55.15 billion USD in 2019. That’s a loss of nearly 56%. 

Let’s turn the corner now, shall we? 

Investors are. 

Articles are popping up daily with top picks for big-winner stocks in the travel and tourism sector. We mentioned early on that export revenues experienced a loss of $1.3 trillion USD – but where did it go? From a Canadian perspective, the answer is: nowhere. We still have it. CIBC economists believe Canadians have nested an additional $100 billion CAD in savings, due to a year rife with nights in and suitcases forlorn and forgotten beneath staircases. You can bet that when travel restrictions start to vanish, pens around the world will be busily scratching items from bucket lists that took a pause through COVID-19. 

 

Tourism post-COVID: the New Menu 

Tourism is taking a new form in the post-pandemic era. The very ethics of going from place-to-place came into strong consideration for many before lockdown even began, and now travel itself is entering a new generation. 

Here are the ways we at William Joseph see people engaging with their world: 

 

The Road Trip: Trails Close to Home 

The Wall Street Journal declared RV vacations “The Safest Way to Travel” for a leisure trip. In the year of the pandemic, that should come as no surprise. But beyond that, every word here is a link to a different song. Pick any two words, and you’ll catch the theme. Chances are good you’ll know the songs, too. For many locked to the earth by travel restrictions, the institution of the road trip has taken on new meaning. “Tourist attractions near me” has seen a spike in popularity through the pandemic, with domestic tourism demand expected to rise over 30% in 2021 compared to 2020 (Page 23). It’s about the journey; not the destination. 

 

Workcations 

Work from home? More like work from roam (patent pending). For those who have been dismissed from the workplace in favour of a home office, ask yourself: could you do your job with a steady Wi-Fi connection? Why not take your 9-5 in the off-hours and spend the evening strolling the Champs-Élysées? There’s a great overview of this growing trend here. 

 

The Solo Adventure 

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, so why not leave your bubble behind? This article from LonelyPlanet sourced a recent poll from booking.com that suggests 30% of travelers would now consider a solo trip, up from 17% pre-pandemic. A trip to discover yourself is substantially harder with your friends and family around, and if social distancing remains something of a concern, solo travel may continue to blossom as a new way to see the world – your way. 

 

The Digitized Experience 

Travel, at its heart, is meant to be an experience. For some, it’s cultural; for others, it’s a challenge; and for others still, it’s catharsis. Technology was already playing a big role, but the pandemic accelerated the importance of contactless, self-sufficient, sustainable places of interest in the travel world. Take a look at Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience to see a prime example of this. The comfort of a smartphone, the ease of a QR code, and the cost-to-benefit ratio of a guided tour on an app is a new reality all tourist destinations – and their visitors – face. 

 

Conscious Travelers 

The digitized experience continues to expand across platforms, but, like the road trip, the idea of leaving modern creature comforts behind still holds appeal. Conscious travelers are those who set their gadgets aside and connect with the value of human fulfillment through experiential means. This value add includes a gain of cultural understanding, and a recent poll states that travel ethics are becoming far more important: 78% of travelers are more ethically conscious than they were a decade prior, and 39% are harbouring guilt from previous tourist attractions that may have had negative impacts on an environment or its denizens: swimming with dolphins, or taking a ride on an elephant, for example. 

 

Where Do We Go Now? 

Because of every tourist’s subjectivity, catching and holding their attention while trying to track their individual opinions and philosophies is a defining challenge of the time we live in. But being in the right place to benefit when travel resumes – and it will – will involve in-depth analytics, process evolutions, sturdy and meaningful branding, and perhaps most of all, trips that are absolutely worth it. So, when that day arrives and our familiar four walls can be cast aside for a plane ticket or an open road, make sure that yours are. 

 

How to Create Effective Environmental Branding

What to Know About Environmental Brand Assets

So the hard work is done: your business has an established brand, or has recently rebranded. You know your colours and fonts off by heart, and your essence and tone of voice are outlined in a carefully developed brand guide – a marketing resource that visualizes and articulates the culture of your organization. And now you’re asking, “What’s next?”

A brand strategy looks at the different brand assets that are essential to developing strong brand recall and improving customer satisfaction – and these assets have been shown to increase employee productivity. One of the most important of these, which every business should think about, is environmental branding. 

 

What is Environmental Branding?

Environmental branding is the act of physically implementing brand elements into your workspaces, stores, or shops. Think of this asset as interior design mixed with the power of marketing, creating a “super-asset” – one that can be very powerful if it resonates with people on a deeply emotional and fundamental level. However, in order for it to resonate with people, your brand must be believable at all touchpoints, including your place of business; using elements from your mission statement, colours from your brand palette, and shapes from your logo are all great places start.

If you want to take your environmental branding to the next level, adding in elements of your sustainable marketing initiatives will help drive the most important message of all: your purpose. For example, if your purpose is to be an eco-friendly business, purchase repurposed furniture from Etsy or secondhand stores. Think about the ways you can use your physical space to drive your business’s purpose and explore various opportunities to infuse environmental branding into your business model.

 

Creating a Full Brand Experience for Clients and Customers

Think of environmental branding as interior design marketing, where space is used to tell your brand’s story and make a genuine emotional connection. This means looking at everything – from walls and windows to floors and furniture. Think of your space and the tone you want to set, too: for a tech company, this is likely a cool and sleek experience with areas of fun trickled through the office; for a brewery, you might aim for a cozy and welcoming “home” feel.

 

Ideas to Brand Your Office Space
  • Use a neon sign that writes out a main company value.
  • Choose furniture that has a similar shape to your logo and uses your brand colours.
  • Create a space that emanates a feeling. Want your employees to have fun at work? Add a pinball machine. Eager to encourage outdoor lunches? Add a picnic table to your outdoor space. Environmental marketing is your business’s vibe, manifested into reality and lived out fully.

 

Ideas to Brand Your Shop Space
  • To make your customers feel like family, take pictures of your employees and hang them on the well in eclectic frames.
  • To emphasize your sustainable marketing and your belief in creating inclusive spaces for all people, integrate that messaging and visual language into your bathroom signage.
  • Hoping for a warm space that invites customers through the door? Think sofas, throw pillows, curtains in your brand’s colors, and warm and welcoming low lighting.

 

Environmental Branding at the Office and Home

As you change your office space to be more dynamic and provide a place for your team to get a breather from the work-from-home life, remember that there are other ways to cleverly implement environmental branding. Start thinking of digital opportunities, like offering your team branded Zoom or Microsoft Teams backgrounds for online meetings. Think of ways to create physical opportunities in your space that lead customers and team members to post pictures on their own personal social media. It could be as simple as a feature wall at the front entrance, with a sign highlighting a branded hashtag and your organizational handles.

Environmental branding is an essential brand asset for every business, and when seamlessly integrated into your space, it tells a more complete story of who you are and what you believe in. There are even organizations like WJ’s client and friend, Identity Ink, that can help you bring your vision purpose to life.

For help with your brand visuals and how to make the most of your space, reach out today and get a whole team of experts that can move your brand forward!

Industry Marketing Analysis: Home Developers 

“Home is where my habits have a habitat.”  

Homebuilding may have been one of the earliest activities humans have done, going back even farther than writing. This quote by American singer-songwriter Fiona Apple is one of an easy hundred thousand about the power, value, and importance of ‘a place to hang your hat.’  

As the Canadian population continues to grow, the number of roofs over our heads grows as well. But the last two years have presented a new series of challenges for home builders and developers, and the adaptation is likely not done yet: the next few years may present even greater challenges for the housing market. 

 

COVID-19 and the Alberta Housing Market 

The start of the pandemic marked the lowest gains in five years for housing starts; only $11.7 billion went through in April 2020. The subsequent return rally was quick, however, with May 2020’s total investment topping $14 billion. Since then, a steady rise above $19.6 billion has been enjoyed as late as April of 2021, but the moves are beginning to cool once again 

A major reason for the increased prices through the second quarter comes back to increased costs for materials, including lumber. But increased demand played a role as well; demand climbed for more living space in the wake of lockdowns across Canada. In fact, communities like Ottawa reported the largest annual growth of new housing prices in February, at an incredible 9.5% in just one year. 

This is not so in Alberta, though. Calgary saw the new housing price index drop by 1.1% from February to August 2020, and among 27 census metropolitan areas it was hit hardest of all, while others experienced growth. Other resource-driven communities saw the same trend, like Edmonton (-0.31%) and Regina (-0.96%). Saskatoon saw a modest rise of .10% and Vancouver jumped by 2.35% in the same period.   

Even as prices fell, construction costs for residential buildings rose at an unheard-of pace in Calgary of 31.4%. This combination doesn’t bode well for the housing market – but even so, the foundation for growth is there, compared to last year. The year-over-year increase of single-detached units is 40% for urban housing starts as of July 2021. Business is available, but tenuous.  

Further, the number of rentals available hasn’t been this high in nearly 25 years, adding another layer of competition to a saturated market.  

 

Fundamentals of the Canadian Housing Market 

From the chart here on alberta.ca, we see a significant return to housing starts action since the start of the COVID pandemic:  

Further, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation foresees steady growth in housing prices to close 2021, before rising interest rates slow housing activity for 2022-23. The Calgary Real Estate Board even tracked July numbers as the “best on record”. 

However, the industry is largely fueled by a high quantity of smaller-scale establishments, which service their specific geographic markets – which means it’s challenging to capture significant market share (IBISWorld, 2018). In a competitive market, it’s important for potential clients to see your company as a preferred choice. That, in turn, takes a compelling brand and a clear value proposition.   

Right now presents a great opportunity for brand awareness campaigns to elevate your image, especially given the present state of the market. If the CMHC is right and housing starts dip in the coming years, it’s simply good business to position your company for maximum returns.  

 

Reaching your Ceiling 

So, the industry is packed with competition: what can you do to rise above it? The first step will involve meeting with your team to establish and refine what you’re most proud to offer potential customers. Next, it’s time to upgrade your marketing activities to tell that story at every opportunity. 

 

Build the framework of your brand

The first step is to establish the brand from which the rest of your marketing material will bloom. For more on the importance of brand, see Rebrand Wins & Fails: The Right Way to Evolve a Brand.  

 

Shout it from the rooftops

In today’s world, there are many ways to get the message across. Social media platforms and traditional advertising methods present their own strengths, weaknesses, and demographics, and making sure you’re marketing to the right people is critical for defining your success. You and your team have a story; it might seem boring to the person living it, but someone else is always interested.  

 

Infuse the brand in everything you do

Having your information out there isn’t enough – a strong digital presence makes a world of difference. If you’re participating in social media, a constant and significant presence that aligns with pre-determined brand messaging is going to be critical to your success.  

Is a new build finished? Are you proud of it? Did a teammate achieve a new certification or ticket? It all adds to your story, builds familiarity and social proof, and strengthens your image.  

Marketing is by no means a catch-all solution, but as we head into potentially uncertain times, it’s an important component to future success. For a customized solution that identifies the best way to tell your story at the world, remember that the team at William Joseph is here to help!  

How to Celebrate Wins as a Company

So, you’ve set up your business’s social media accounts. You’ve invested in winning digital and traditional ads. You’ve spent hours trying to make your products and services accessible and clear – but even so, there’s still something missing. This can quickly become an obstacle, because studies show that people who are thinking about a new purchase want to research the company they’re buying from and form a strong connection with them.

Now, as millennials and Gen Z hold more and more influence, successful companies are adapting to the factors that matter most to these younger generations. For many, it’s not just about what companies sell. It’s about how the companies act, the values they maintain, and the culture they create. All of this adds up to a whole brand experience, which matters just as much – and for some, even more – than traditional marketing routes.

Important milestones, showing off your company’s culture, and being honest about philanthropy and successes should be a key part of your marketing strategy. Here are some ways to showcase those wins, the right way.

 

Celebrating Company Culture and Milestones

A great company culture is more than a monthly team lunch and some generic gift cards at the holidays. It involves getting to know each other, encouraging success, and making communications personal and profound. It takes more effort, but the rewards are immense.

When you have an amazing team that really connects, you’ll want to tell the world about it. This not only improves morale around the office, but it also shows current and prospective customers that your people are reliable and engaged. It shows that you value your employees and care about their success within your organization, which translates to a better perception of your business by those outside of it.

Remember that younger generations are putting more and more stock in how a company treats their employees, away from the PR campaigns and curated social posts. Highlighting the personalities and people behind your brand adds a personal touch, in a world of faceless tech giants and ever-increasing online capabilities. Showcasing the actual humans behind your company’s policies and practices gives personality, credibility, and authenticity to your brand.

In turn, this contributes to long-term company success, enabling milestones of growth or longevity – 1000 customers, 10 years in business, and so on. Look at these as ways for your whole network to celebrate, because they all helped make it happen, inside your organization and beyond its walls. Bring everyone in with spotlight posts, special sales, unique event branding, and more. Use your imagination, and as long as you keep it authentic, it will become one more part of your overall story.

 

How to Use Case Studies and Successes

Proven examples of your work will go a long way when attracting new customers – and you should be able to celebrate innovative, clever solutions to past problems you have encountered in your operations. Case studies and glowing reviews show off your expertise and reliability, while emphasizing your approach to creating solutions as well.

New customers and clients can envision their own successes by using your case studies as a metric. They also act as appreciation for your current client base, keeping them engaged and returning to your business for future endeavours.

 

What is Corporate Philanthropy?

Nurture the relationships within your community by contributing to its wellbeing. When you do, get comfortable talking about it! Get your current and new customers involved, too – as you position your brand as an industry leader and community pillar, it will keep your name top of mind and inspire others to follow suit. The benefits go beyond the organizations or people you are directly impacting; giving back can foster feelings of good will and trust towards you and your operations, too.

When it comes to chatting up your own accomplishments, it may seem like you are simply bragging for the sake of it. But look at it from an external perspective: your company culture is great, your employees are awesome, and your capabilities are always on the rise.

Don’t be afraid to show off your creativity and style, involve new voices and perspectives, and broaden your brand’s horizons. And don’t forget, if you need help – WJ is here! Our teams are ready to help you make the most out of your stories, and get your wins out in front of the world.

Industry Marketing Analysis: Education 

The best chess players in the world – grandmasters – think up to eight moves ahead.  

So must the best educators. 

Economic development agencies across Canada – CalgaryToronto and Vancouver, for example – have placed a heavy focus not only on attracting top technological talents to their turf, but “getting smarter” in general – the education incubator is often a hot political topic, too. 

With such a wide net cast on a smarter Canada, what does the education industry landscape look like here? 

 

Rising Costs 

The biggest watercooler element comes from cost; those approaching the post-secondary landscape (and their parents) lament the drastic rise in prices over the last decade-and-a-half; In 2006/2007, undergraduate students paid an average of $4,211 in tuition fees for the academic year; that number has ballooned to an average of $7,304 for the 2020/2021 academic year. That’s a rise of 58%; for argument’s sake, the inflation-adjusted rate from 2006 would be closer to $5,600. 

What are the side effects? For outreaching student populations, it means trust is harder to build. The last thing a student wants is a lighter wallet, but in this shifting economic landscape, these same students need to keep their options open.  

 

The Next Big Gig 

Could you think of the most common five jobs in America 100 years ago? How about the top five 100 years from now?  

As you can imagine, they’re going to be a little different (the answer to that question involves lots of retail personnel and dairy workers) – beyond those professions, millwrights, toolmakers, textile workers, carpenters, and teachers round out the top ten. This Business Insider article on the “best future jobs” shows some striking parallels, but adds a fistful of jobs in the tech sector. Schools have to stay an additional step ahead of content like this, with the further challenge of edging those prospective students in these new, exciting directions.

 

The Enrolment Puzzle 

That brings us to the challenges of enrolment. The pandemic brought rapid, decisive change to the education industry. Many postsecondary schools quickly adapted, redirecting their focus to resources that cultivated online platforms and asynchronous learning; this bridged a valuable, necessary gap, affording those who were newly out-of-work an opportunity to enhance or even revise their core credentials. According to StatsCan, 12.4% of paid Canadian workers between the ages of 15 and 64 have been laid off on a monthly basis in a dataset ranging from February to June of 2020. With programs like the Canada-Alberta Job Grant, many went back to school to re-skill themselves for a new line of work. 

Once that wave rolls away, the forecast calls for a shrunken field of new students. Online platforming for education is a double-edged sword in the education industry; on one hand, you can attract students from much farther away, but on the other – so can everybody else.  

So…

 

Who Stands Apart from the Crowd? 

In the marketing and advertising world, the loudest voice in a market is afforded no guarantee to outshine the competition. The standout schools will be those who capitalize on appeal, and directly connect to a student’s perceptions of the dream job at the end of a program. They also serve to comfort them with a positive impression of the roadmap. After all, education can be a daunting journey. It’s far more than a TV commercial featuring a smiling, grad-cap-donning graduate cracking a grin; payment for a diploma does little justice to the experience.  

 

Messaging 

Messaging that leads with the ignition of ideas, the demonstration of passion, and the connection to community can help invoke a sense of pride, ambition, and enrichment. If this can be achieved in the copy, a bond can be made. 

 

Engagement 

Keeping the student engaged through the process, focused on the outcomes, and connected to the values of the education are all tantamount to future enrolments; experience is everything, and a student’s development as a person can be just as important in shaping the school’s future successes. After all: word-of-mouth marketing works wonders for students, too! 

 

Culture 

Creating community is another matter; the forward-facing messaging has to come from somewhere, and these processes and philosophies will require the breadth of a faculty to buy in completely. That part should be easy – most people know a teacher, and thus know how much passion is baked into their career. Applying branding and messaging that galvanizes a school’s stakeholders – from the department of education to the student body – can serve to increase reach, engagement, morale, and bottom lines. 

It’s worked pretty well for Harvard, and for the Alberta University of the Arts, too. 

The world is in a constant state of academic renaissance. As what we know intermingles with how we interpret and apply our knowledge, we are left looking ahead; whether it’s at the calendar, the next class, the next career, or the chessboard, it pays to think a few moves in advance.  

Why Website Maintenance is Important for Businesses

Your website is the main tool for generating purchases and leads of products and services. If your website is not functioning properly, looks outdated, or is hard to read, you will lose a key market of purchasers. How did we get here? Read the history of websites, where we are going, and what you need to do below.  

 

History of Websites

The first webpage was published to the World Wide Web (WW3) on August 6, 1991, by Tim Burners-Lee and provided step-by-step instructions on how to create webpages. From that first page, websites – and the online user experience (UX) – grew exponentially over the next 30 years, and as the web flourished, so did the user experience, eventually incorporating advanced design, copy, and functionality.  

  
Web Design History Timeline. (from https://www.webdesignmuseum.org/web-design-history )

 

Search engines, like Archie and Google, were soon created to help users find the information they wanted. Here is a quick, 30-second summary of three decades of history for marketers and business owners:  

      • 1990 – The first browser and search engine are created and published to the WW3 with basic page functions, minimal design, and a focus on function over form.
      • 1995 – Setting the bar for web design and UX/CX – Jeffery Zeldman and Alec Pollak developed the Batman Forever movie website to connect with fans across the world. This is considered the first instance of using the web for marketing purposes.
      • 1998 – Web design communities and programs start sprouting up, and sites start to become more visually engaging, in contrast to the then standard grey or white background with black, blue, or purple text (at WJ, we don’t miss the purple text). 
      • 2001 – Audi builds a new customer experience (CX) by creating a partially responsive website where content is modified based on the size of the web browser window. 
      • 2005 – Google Analytics launches and is still the most popular tool for capturing user behaviours and traffic.  
      • 2009 – Facebook introduces the “Like” button – paving the way for other sites to introduce real-time interactions with their users and layered widget functionalities.   

We have come a long way from the first websites that prioritized function over form. The WW3 is now an oversaturated space, with millions of pages competing for attention. As websites rapidly evolve to stay relevant in the digital space, marketing must do the same.   

 

Future of Websites

Since the World Wide Web project (is a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents – ergo the project that initiated the internet) web design, user experience, SEO, and digital marketing have taken off. Building a site is no longer about simply delivering information to users. Adding design elements and focusing on user experience can mean the difference between a sale for you and one for a competitor.   

Today, UX is at the forefront of every marketer’s mind. How do we create an emotional connection with our target markets that leads to brand retention and lead generation? In the world of website evolution, there are three key aspects: design, copy, and functionality. These three evolutionary elements work together to create an enjoyable user experience that efficiently solves problems. Let’s explore upcoming trends and different components you must keep in mind while maintaining (or upgrading) your website. 

 

Design 

With the increase of website and online advertising, Canada’s Accessibility Act was created, affecting websites again. On top of creating a seamless UX experience in which information is easy to find, it must also be findable by all people – including people with disabilities. This, in turn, has created conversation around neumorphism 

Neumorphism is the latest buzzword – moving away from flat representations of icons, buttons, and functions and toward “something mid-way to realism” with selective shadows (embossing effects) and flat colours.  While this trend is ultimately satisfying to look at and pleasing to use, it may affect your site’s accessibility as it reduces contrast overall.  

 

Neumorphism in user interfaces. (from https://uxdesign.cc/neumorphism-in-user-interfaces-b47cef3bf3a6)

 

Remember, to work with all people, website designs must be more than pretty. They must be functional to create an emotional human connection that influences outcomes. 
 

Copy 

Language is powerful. The words we use to communicate ideas and inspire action are important when pushing a user through the online purchasing funnel. Furthermore, the words used in your website copy will determine its ranking in search engine results. This is why thinking of SEO in paragraphs and titles is important. Write menu titles that are more direct, and that are not so abstractly creative that users leave your site out of frustration. Your words can change a user’s mind in mere milliseconds, whether to stay or to go – and you want them to stay. Furthermore, too much copy can interrupt the function of the website. It must work with the design and function to create a smooth experience for customers from beginning to end.  

 

Functionality 

Do you dislike when you ask your kids to wash the dishes, and they just run it under some water so they can return to playing? Technically, they did the job, but the result led you to have a poor overall experience. So do your website users. When we think of website functionality, it needs to do what we ask our users to action. If you say, “Buy this Service, Click Here”, the website will need to have a button that leads them to a shop where they can purchase the service. This means that as websites evolved, functionalities like animated buttons, chat bots, online shops, and scrolling were invented to keep up.  

For example, scrolling animations are a great way to keep your users from “bouncing’ too soon. It increases interaction and creates a sort of visual feedback loop for users to engage with. Whether your site’s scroll function is as simple as moving text/image elements or as complex as making a scroll feel like a whole new page, it’s an easy element to adopt, paired with huge engagement benefits. Although these trending website applications feel exciting, strategic decisions need to factor in design and copy before implementing something just because it ‘looks cool’. This means ongoing website audits, maintenance and strategy is vital for every business to thrive.  

 

WJ is Here to Help

Everyone (even the dog) has a website. The COVID-19 pandemic showed businesses and marketers the importance of having an online presence to keep the lights on. Outranking competing websites in an ever-changing search engine algorithm requires ongoing maintenance and deliberate assessments. Ensuring a positive user experience in the chaotic digital environment can feel daunting. As marketing jargon floats around in conversations, and opinions are offered about your site – you wonder, “What is right?” WJ is an extension of your team, able to amplify your organizational objectives with industry leaders helping you every step of the way.  

Industry Marketing Analysis: Oil and Gas

In 2019, the energy industry in Canada employed and supported more than 800,000 people, making up 10% of the country’s GDP. These impressive numbers point to a strong and resilient industry – but, as with most industries, they were hit hard in 2020 through pandemic shutdowns.

As the economy recovers, the time is right to not only replicate past accomplishments but improve them with a new approach and fresh eyes. For the industry to flourish and reach beyond past potential, it must face the future with open arms and continue to innovate.

 

Producers and Current Trends

Even before the pandemic, one of the biggest cultural shifts happening in energy was the green revolution – the rise of solar, wind, geothermal, and other sources of energy generation. These numbers are growing steadily, with hydro, solar, and wind generation creating 78,000, 1.8, and 9.7 megawatts in 2014, and 82,000, 3.1, and 12.8 megawatts in 2018, respectively. They still lag behind fossil fuels, but the consistent rises herald the future of the industry – and why embracing its potential will be crucial for success.

COVID interrupted the adoption of this technology, presenting a unique opportunity to create a more fulsome and ingrained pivot toward recovery. After all, traditional and newer energy sources are two sides of the same coin – they need each other to scale properly and to meet the needs of an expanding population. Solar panels and wind turbines cannot be built without gasoline and existing electrical sources to power the manufacturing plants; but the fundamental flaw of fossil fuels is coming into play a little more with every passing year: as a non-renewable resource, its time has always been limited. With Shell opening discussions on the end of its own peak oil production, the time has never been better to focus forward and shift the narrative for the public.

 

Challenges for the Energy Industry

In an industry as broad and far-reaching as energy, there are unique challenges to address. Climate concerns dominate many conversations, with new discussions of net-zero emissions targets and green technology emerging daily; resources are getting more difficult and more expensive to reach, as the most cost-effective reserves have been tapped already. The most notable challenge is public perception – especially the idea that energy companies pursue only profits to the expense of everything else. The ramifications extend beyond everyday conversations, too: Shell recently lost a ruling against climate activists about its emissions targets.

What does this mean? Energy companies face an uphill battle to engage not only with their customers and stakeholders, but with the court of public opinion. The good news: there are stories waiting to be told. For decades, oil and gas organizations have led the way in innovative technology, more efficient energy solutions, and an unrelenting atmosphere of constant improvement brimming with potential. These stories exist; they just aren’t loud enough.

 

Successful Marketing in the Energy Industry

 

Planning for the Future

Moving forward, the key to success in energy comes down to marketing for the future, highlighting a commitment to the rapidly approaching revolution. New developments like carbon capture technology, cleaner batteries, and smart energy management in urban settings are the tip of the iceberg. If you want people to support you, join you, and promote you, it’s time to focus more on a bright future, instead of a storied past.

 

Connecting with Customers

Consumers in the modern world have considerations beyond the simple cost of the products and services they buy. They want stories: does this company share my values and beliefs? Do they align with the goals I attribute to these philosophies? Every industry has its diehard supporters, but explaining to outliers why your brand suits them is crucial in creating a strong base to build from.

 

Sending the Right Message

There are more tools than ever before to tell the right story to the public, and that public is eager for information and innovation alike. With a properly planned content strategy, the most important points of the industry, its accomplishments, and its ideas can be told. It sounds simple, but this involves finding the right core messages and delivering it to the right people, while avoiding formulaic missteps and cliches that many people come to expect from corporate communications. Submitting publications like ESG reports detailing what your organization does for society beyond business operations can be a major benefit for this.

 

Collaborate with Other Organizations

Throwing support behind other organizations can bolster your position. Government agencies, non-profit organizations, complementary companies – all of these can help enhance your public image. Decide how you want to be seen, and find partners that will align with your vision. This will help you get where you want to be. This can also reinforce strengths and mitigate weaknesses.

 

All of this works well in theory, but how do these concepts translate into practice? In a follow-up, we’ll dive deeper into one of these elements and illustrate how you can apply it to your own operations. We are entering a business world where plans can change quickly, which will require unprecedented adaptability and strong, clear communications about your values and decisions – and all of that begins by identifying not only where you are, but where you want to be in the future.

Video Marketing Trends of 2021

YouTube DIYs and explainers. Instagram Reels. TikTok duet trends. The online world of 2021 is dominated by video content in every corner, ranging from a few seconds for a quick laugh to hours-long livestreams of new products. As marketers, they are a huge part of our toolbox in getting messages out to people in an engaging and cost-effective way, and even Google’s own stats say that at least half of people considering a purchase will look up a video on the product first – even if they’re standing in front of it on the shelf. The rise in popularity of video content is impossible to ignore, and when you look at the trends for the last few years, it’s clear to see that if you’re not exploring your video options, your brand is missing out on major opportunities.

 

Why Video Marketing Matters

So the big question you might have: why is video so important?

To start, think about the difference in engagement between plain text posts and image posts. Our eyes are primed to react more strongly to the colours and imagery presented within pictures, and this effect is compounded when it comes to videos. People are much more likely to stop and watch a video, even a few seconds of it, than they would be to stop and read a block of text – no matter how well-written it is. Video is designed to catch attention and keep it, and when the phones in our pockets can make any post look professional and engaging, it’s almost impossible to resist.

The ubiquity of smartphones, quick-editing apps, and posting platforms has launched a creative revolution that is pushing the limits of what great videos look like and are able to accomplish. This is not limited to individuals, either – companies with their fingers on the pulse of their audience are using video strategies to great effect, too. If you’ve ever paused while mindlessly scrolling through a social feed because an interesting clip caught your attention, you’ve seen just how effective a well-done video can be. And if you’re not there already, the next step is to start making them on your own.

 

How to Create Effective Brand Videos

So you’ve got a decent smartphone, an editing program, and a few hours to spare. There’s never been a better time to jump into video content, nor a more friendly atmosphere for learning and finding your niche. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

 

Creating a Full Video Strategy

The first step is to think of your video strategy holistically. It shouldn’t be something that comes as an afterthought to everything else, and it shouldn’t result in one 30-second clip every few months. Work them in to accompany your regular content, and boost their appeal by creating them to cover a range of uses and purposes, while feeding in to the broader brand style that ties it all back to you. Videos are just one part of a solid foundation that holds your brand up for all to see.

 

Balance Your Content Types

Sometimes quick and off-the-cuff works great – but sometimes you need a product that’s a bit more professional. The good news is, they both have their place in a strong strategy, and you no longer need to spend huge amounts of money trying to get full camera crews and equipment.

For quick videos for social media, any smartphone with a decent camera will do. You can invest in a relatively cheap microphone to help with sound quality, but that’s enough to produce great content on the fly. If you are doing a longer, scripted video instead – such as an educational video for a product, or hosting a webinar – simple equipment like a tripod and lighting will go a long way towards a credible end result. These longer videos can also then be cut or modified for use as promos or social media, too, further establishing your presence online.

 

It’s About Connection, Not Perfection

No one will ever make the “perfect” video, because such a thing doesn’t exist. Express your values and voice in the ways that work best for you, and that is all you need. Take the time to learn the basics and discover what your audience responds to, and remember that it’s okay to learn along the way. Just stay authentic and you’ll reap the rewards.

 

Using Short and Long Form Video

Shorter content – but not necessarily with low production values – finds its home on some of the most popular apps in the world, like TikTok, Instagram Reels, or Facebook Live. These apps are like having a whole production crew on hand to edit, add effects and music, and unleash your creativity in full. And with TikTok having more than a billion monthly users by now, the audience is there, waiting – even if your content is just a one-shot video with a simple premise and no big budget. It’s possible to reach the entire world with a few taps on your phone.

Short videos are just one part of the equation, though. As a brand that wants to establish yourself with your audience, longer videos will be the main attraction that brings attention to you. Think educational videos that people can follow along with, DIY sessions that show how to do something new, or webinars about an interesting topic that live on your website or YouTube channel. Everyone’s heard of Twitch streams, TED Talks, and DIY repair videos – they’re some of the most popular content in the world. In fact, in 2018, 70% of YouTube viewers said they watch helpful videos for their studies, hobbies, or work, and that number has only increased in the years since. Right now, a lot of people are stuck at home with very few in-person events going on. This means you have a perfect audience to educate, entertain, and bring on board to your brand.

As the capabilities of our devices get more powerful, it’s clear that video content – and the ease with which we can access it – is here to stay. With a bit of planning and strategy, you can establish yourself as a source of information, entertainment, or inspiration for your customers and clients, and deliver your message clearly, in your own words, for all to see. It looks simple, but there are many facets to consider, so if you need help in the process, William Joseph is always here to help!