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PCEDC’s Guide to
Keeping Your Small Business
Open During Covid-19

 

The Coronavirus came out of nowhere like a tornado with gale force winds, and it
has impacted communities everywhere, from cities to small town America. Here in
Putnam County, it has had a particularly chilling effect on small businesses, many of
which operate on thin profit margins, and they rely on local residents to keep them
running.

And while the Federal Government has come together to offer low interest loans to
keep small businesses open, there are other steps that can be taken to maintain
their customer relationships that will help them stay afloat, as many are forced to
cut back their hours, layoff staff, and curtail spending on advertising.

Social Media Survival Guide

The rapid onset of the Corona virus has led to a significant spike up in social media
usage. According to Yahoo Finance Key Statistics for Coronavirus Impacts on Social
Media:

• 66% of social media users believe their social media usage habit will increase
in the event they are confined to their home due to the Coronavirus.
• 64% expect their usage of YouTube to increase, only 2% expect a decrease.
• 63% expect their usage of Facebook to increase, only 2% expect a decrease.
• 44% of social media users would consider becoming a social media influencer
to earn money for their household during an economic recession.

This surge in usage, coupled with a dramatic decrease in traffic on local roads, has
led many businesses to invest or reinvest in their online storefronts, as described in
the same report by Yahoo Finance. Key Statistics for Coronavirus Impacts on eCommerce:

• 99% of social media users believe there is a chance they will purchase
something online if they are confined to their home during an outbreak.
• 92% of consumers who have “a great deal of say” on purchasing decisions
believe they will purchase grocery store items online (vs in-store) during their
confinement.
• 79% of consumers with children ages 3-17 at home believe they may
purchase home improvement or DIY items online while confined to home.
• 76% of consumers who have a “great deal of say” on purchasing decisions
believe they will order restaurant food delivery online.

With small businesses scrambling to remain open, and viable, they are turning to
social media to create visibility. Here are some tips and techniques to consider for social media:

1. Change your social media landing pages and add a photo and a sign stating,
“We Are Open!’ and include a photo of your delivery truck, van, or car

2. Offer free items to service workers on the front line. Announce the time and
date on Facebook with an event, and re-post on your other social channels. It
is the right thing to do, and it is good business to show you care, as these
courageous, brave, hardworking people – and their friends and families – will
remember your generosity.

3. Partner with a Nonprofit – The nonprofit organizations are facing
tremendous challenges of their own, as they rely on events and donations to
provide important programs that keep our communities alive. You can help
them and generate new business at the same time with a sales promotion on
your social media and offer to deliver your items with a bonus. Example: If
you are restaurant delicatessen, let them know that, for every purchase over
$25, you will donate $5 to a nonprofit cause of their choice. And post photos
and links from their social media pages to yours.

4. Hold a social media contest – The winner can get a coupon for 20% off any
item when they shop online, or even a free item added to a purchase.
Examples are sharing hashtags, asking customers to share your posts, or
having contests where customers post photos with your products or services
for a prize.

5. Town/County Trivia Game – This could be an online scavenger hunt. Use your
social channels to announce and help people participate. Examples: how old
was Sybil Ludington when she went on her famous ride to Danbury, or, what
year was Cold Spring founded? The first to post an answer on your Facebook
or Instagram page gets a free appetizer or drink. And/or a monthly giveaway
of dinner for 2 delivered to your door.

6. Update your Website and Google Listings – You can improve your Google
search results and increase traffic growth without advertising. How is your
Google My Business listing doing? Can you update your store hours, business
description, photos? Making these changes will improve your search rank
locally for mobile searches. And – reach out to your loyal customers and ask
for a Facebook or Google review.

7. Virtual Video – Any yoga, fitness or health-related business can setup a
Facebook event for Facebook Live, or hold video classes at normal times your
customers expect.

8. Generate Referrals – post that you will offer coupons for every 5 deliveries.

9. Help Your Staff – they are your best advocates. If you offer a delivery service,
add a tip box to your checkout forms.

10. Partner – we are all in this together, like no other time in history. Reach out
to fellow merchants, and come up with ideas to partner. Pair a food delivery
with wine or beer from a local distributor, and promote them in your posts.
Package selling gifts from your local shop with a discounted item from a
neighboring merchant. Follow each other on your social media pages.

Bonus tip: To remind people that you are open for takeout, consider setting up an
outside table or “lemonade stand” in front of your business with a poster or flag, to
make sure people know you are open for deliveries. Include your Facebook,
Instagram or other social media address.

We hope these tips and techniques help you in your effort to survive, and
eventually, put you in position to thrive when we return to business as usual!

 

contributed by Walter Recher of SmallBall Marketing