Running a small business is hard. Running a small business during a global pandemic is even harder. Believe me, I'm right there with you. I'm a small business owner too.
COVID is affecting us in a variety of ways from loss of business to 100% remote work. Things are changing rapidly and we're all being forced to adapt.
Those of us that will survive this will have to be creative in our approach and become masters of communication and marketing. Easier said than done, right.
The most important thing to remember is stay connected. We have a community that wants to help us. Stay connected with your customers and collaborate with other local businesses.
Below is a short list of ideas to get you started. Hopefully, it will inspire you to think of other creative ways your small business can stay connected. Also, I found free marketing resources for small businesses that can help boost your online marketing right now.
1. Upload videos or video chat
Go digital with your services. People want to know how to support you! Tutors, personal trainers and therapist can be available virtually through Google Hangouts, Skype or Zoom. Facebook also offers free chat rooms as well. If you are a paid service like a salon owner offer how to videos on topics like "in-home root touch-ups." Check out Vimeo Channel or Loom as options for paid viewing services.
Bonus: Consider creating a sign-up form on your website and send regular emails about changes to your hours, get exclusive sneak peeks on products and let them know how they can support you!
2. Strengthen community bonds
All of us have been adjusting. For me, being a mom and working from home has been challenging to keep track of school schedules and the never ending, "I'm boooored." If you can provide any resource, service or bit of entertainment post it online. Even free downloadable coloring pages or activities to keep kids entertained. If you're an antique shop, consider becoming your own version of Antique Roadshow. Have customers send in photo and give them a range of what the item might be worth. People are strapped for cash! That's one way to stay engaged, help out and be seen as a local expert. Just make sure whatever you share has something to do with your business.
3. Reach out to other small businesses
Being able to connect with people is the one thing I miss the most. Don't hesitate to reach out to me or other business owners to swap ideas and collaborate. We're all in this together. How I see it ...small businesses are the backbone of community and our town's economic future. The only way we're going to get out of this is by working together. So try to set aside some time to share what's working and what's not, and let's strengthen our relationships during this strange time.
Bonus: Help other small businesses by offering a 10% discount if a customer brings in a recent receipt from another small business.
5. Don't Lose Site of Your Customers
Marketing 101: it's cheaper to retain customers than to get a new one. You will spend more effort and dollars to bring in new clients. My advice is to focus on the customers you have and make customer service your #1 priority.
Free Business Resources
1. Use Instagram's Free Stickers
Have you seen them? You can promote your business (and other businesses) in your Instagram stories. You can add stickers that have direct links for purchasing gift cards, making food orders and raising money. Gift cards and food orders will send users to your website so be prepared.
2. Use Facebook's guide for small businesses
Facebook guides are tailored to each industry with tools and trainings. It's worth a look.
3. Advertise for Free on Yelp
Your business might be on Yelp without you knowing. People can add and review your business, even upload photos. Make sure you search for your business on Yelp and claim it as yours. Once you complete that, check out Yelp's resources for businesses and take advantage of their offer for free advertising from April through June.
4. Take advantage of Google's free ad credits
Google has a fund for small businesses that is providing $340 million dollars in Google Ad credits for small to medium businesses that were active over the past year. You don't need to apply or sign up to claim this credit.
5. Streamline your social media
Hootsuite is a social media management tool that can increase your presence, connect you with customers and help you reach new audiences. Hootsuite is offering their services for free until July 1.
6. Get free promotion and POS tools from Shopify
Shopify has a great option for new and existing customers. You can get an extended 90 free trial for in-store/curb-side pickup for online orders and local delivery. There's also an option for physical and digital gift cards. Through October 1 free resources are available including live webinars and free e-mail marketing.
Here to help..
There are so many larger businesses right now that are doing their best to make marketing for small businesses easier. Sometimes it helps if we just know where to look.
If you have questions on how to better market your business, let me know. I'm always happy to help. I have over 15 years experience in marketing, business development and communications. Not only that, I can design just about anything you need from flyers to websites and beyond. We're in the together.