This guide I’ve created 5 tips for how local businesses can survive the economic slowdown of the Coronavirus, aka COVID-19. For anyone reading this I’d like to ask a big favour that you can share this with anyone that you think might help them out. A quick summary of these tips:
- Offer gift cards
- Sell merchandise like t-shirts
- Collect emails and followers
- Work on your local SEO and learn it
- Setup Google Alerts and other social media mentions
- Ask your customers for help
- Run a contest or promotion
How we want to help you
Also for local businesses or websites that are severely affected by the shutdown of the economy, I’m offering free website critiques until further notice. These I normally charge $250 each but I want to help out companies that have bigger problems to worry about. You can apply to this page here: https://commissionmagazine.com/affiliate-critiques/
Companies and small businesses affected by Coronavirus
My heart goes out to local businesses that are suffering the economic impact of the Coronavirus that has more or less given us a big recession to endure. A recession usually impacts everyone however this COVID-19 is directly impacting local businesses. These are restaurants, hotels, gyms, markets, malls, breweries, wineries, tourism, sports and really anything that involves people coming to your business or people being in contact with each other. I was at a restaurant last week and the waitress I thought she was going to ball her eyes out knowing that this week would likely see her restaurant closed for an extended period of time. People have mortgages to pay, kids to feed and this is a lot of stress for a lot of people around the world. I feel lucky that I get to work from home and don’t really need to worry about my business or livelihood disappearing.
Tip #1: Offer gift cards
Gift cards offer a means of your customers and loyal supporters to give you money now. This can help while your business has to remain physically closed but doesn’t mean people can’t buy something now and get it later.
One more tip I’m going to give you about gift cards and should be a reason why you should always have them available: Not all gift cards get redeemed! According to The Hustle, 10% to 19% of gift cards balances go unredeemed and 6% of gift cards are never used! Now this sounds like it is taking advantage of your customers but it is a reality. People lose gift cards, they forget about them, some of them can expire but that means for a $100 gift card, the value of it could be 10% higher and that is money in now rather than later. In trying times like this, gift cards could give you a means of making sales today while everyone is staying at home. Gift cards are a popular gift that people like to buy for others.
Gift cards you could use the DIY method as in do it yourself or find other companies that offer gift card services. You’ll have to research it yourself but I found selling gift cards on Shopify and Square gift cards.
Tip #2: Sell merchandise like t-shirts
Shirts and other clothing is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to merchandise that your customers could buy. A t-shirt or hat is an easy way to sell something, make a small profit and those customers are not only showing support but they are also helping you spread the word in your community by advertising. See what you can find to support local companies but you might want other companies that handle shipping as well so that could vary country to country.
Tip #3: Collect email addresses and followers
I see a lot of businesses not doing this right at all. When you have someone’s contact information, it is your chance to sell them something and interact. Like telling them you have t-shirts for sale or gift cards or announce any upcoming promotions or when you are back in business. The same applies for social media in collecting followers whether Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and any other social media profile that might be relevant for your industry or location. When you have followers, it is your means of staying in contact with them. If you have downtime in your biz then now is the chance to look at how you can up your game in getting emails and improving your social media presence.
Tip #4: Work on your Local SEO and learn SEO
Many small businesses don’t know much about SEO, that stands for search engine optimization. If you don’t have a lot of competition, sometimes you will get rankings and search traffic just by existing. Either way, search traffic is important and sometimes hiring SEO companies to help you doesn’t always yield the results you want and might not only take more money out of your pocket but it might leave you depending on this company for more service and of course more invoices. If you have extra time on your hands, it is important to learn SEO.
I did one website critique that was focused mainly on local SEO and you can read that article with embedded video here.
Two great local SEO guides you can get here:
Pro tip: Be sure you are registered on Google My Business!
Tip #5: Setup Google Alerts and other means of tracking mentions of your company
Every time someone talks or writes about your business, you should pay attention to this. Google Alerts is an easy one to use. There are other social monitoring tools you could use and too many to list, otherwise this is your checklist of what you should always be paying attention to:
- Google Alerts
- All social media mentions on many social media platforms
- Ratings & reviews: find them all and be proactive
Tip #6: Ask your customers for help
You don’t get what you don’t ask for. This also reinforces Tip #3 of collecting emails and followers as it is harder to ask if you don’t have emails collected and followers. Your customers can help in a number of ways:
- ask them to buy gift cards for friends and family
- ask them to buy your merch
- survey them and get feedback
- ask them to rate and review your business across multiple platforms
Tip #7: Run a contest or promotion
A contest or promotion will keep your customers activated and engaged. Let’s face it, the world has never been online as much as any other time in history. Some people are literally bored at home with nothing to do so a contest might be a fun way to interact with people. A few ideas off of the top of my head
- social media post interacting with your brand
- photo caption contest
- t-shirt design contest
- Best TikTok video contest
Really the ideas here are endless. If you have extra time on your hands, your customers probably do to so make it fun and rewarding.
Be strong and support your community
As customers, we have a chance to support other local businesses and now is the time to be thinking more like a community than ever before. For business owners, these tips might help make the next few months more manageable. I do have another article on working from home as a freelancer so this might help business owners and any employees earn some extra income in these uncertain times.
“I know this isnt what you are asking for, but my recco (outside of the seo) would be to host multiple daily training sessions you can join from your livingroom, either via zoom or fb live, doesnt matter. This is the best time (maybe ever) to build a tribe, by the time that he can open again, he will have tens if not hundreds of people lining up to join.”
Jonathan Kiekbusch from seobutler.com
Think outside the box, chat with people and if you are dry on ideas, look at what other businesses are doing in your area. Please share this with any business owners that you think could use a bit of help.