States across the country are finally allowing businesses to begin reopening their doors to consumers. This will certainly help make up for months of lost revenue thousands of restaurants, retailers, salons, and other venues have faced. On the other hand, numerous reopening rules—from customer capacity limits to masks and curfews—are making it harder for brands to navigate this new landscape while also keeping customers engaged.
Beyond just ensuring consumer health and safety, businesses now reopening to the public need to create new marketing, entertainment, and advertising strategies for incoming customers—especially now that live music could be unsafe and just playing songs on a speaker might not be enough.
How can bars better entertain consumers to keep them coming in, while also keeping everyone safe?
Keep content short, and don’t stream movies or TV shows
Pre-COVID-19, a customer may have walked into a bar, hair salon, restaurant, or other venue to see a movie or TV show playing in the background. While we all love movies and TV, this long-form content isn’t the best way to engage customers. In a bar or restaurant, consumers usually prefer socializing over paying attention to what’s playing on the TV. With everyone now having been socially distant for months on end, that behavior will only go up.
Streaming giants such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have mastered long-form content, but they haven’t done anything substantial with short-form content, making it difficult for them to break into digestible in-venue entertainment. While Netflix and Hulu have experimented with some short-form entertainment, the content is either limited, too long, or contains no interactive element for the consumer.
To offer consumers content that’s engaging, brands need to find the sweet spot between long-form content and short-form social entertainment (think TikTok or Snapchat). Whether customers are chilling at the bar with a mask on or waiting for hours in line at a hair salon, short-form, in-venue entertainment such as movie trailers, viral videos, or sports highlights will go a long way to get—and keep—them entertained and enthralled.
With curfews in effect, engage consumers even after they leave
Bars, restaurants, and even shopping used to be the way every human socialized. Now, COVID-19 has led everyone to find a new way to connect with friends and family either six feet apart or on Zoom.
Now, the places consumers love the most are reopening, yet most have capacity limits, some regions still require curfews and, of course, you can’t forget your mask. What if customers could still experience fun at the bar outside, in a safe, socially distant setting?
Connecting social media to in-venue entertainment is key to keeping consumers engaged, so they aren’t just watching music videos or sports highlights but are actively interacting with them. Consumers seeing their posts on the TV at the bar, or instantly commenting on a music video via an app, is a whole new level of engagement that all venues should be taking advantage of.
To take it further, rather than just watch content at the bar, consumers can use an app to take that content with them anywhere, so they can still experience the venue even when they’re social distancing. Tying social media with social settings will give venues a leg up as they reopen.
Provide customers with localized and customized advertising
COVID-19 has caused many retailers, restaurants, and bars to bleed valuable revenue. Venues are now looking for affordable ways to advertise, avoiding the loss of even more money.
An easy way to bring in revenue for struggling businesses are advertisements that should be localized and customized to the specific venue. A sports bar playing sports highlights will have relevant advertising—and so will any other bar or restaurant.
Targeted ads only a few seconds long are effective in generating brand awareness in front of the right demographics, while also generating valuable ad revenue.
Short-form content is the next wave for venues
Venues were never made to host long-form streaming content. Very few people would watch a movie or TV show playing at the bar. From the COVID-19 TikTok wave to Instagram and Snapchat, short-form content is exactly what consumers look for.
To get customers to come, and come back, we need to adjust our strategy for this new world. Besides, I think we’re all sick of watching hours of TV by now.
By Jon Niermann, CEO and Co-Founder of Loop Media, a premium streaming media company focused on premium short-form video for businesses and consumers.