Creative ways for Small Businesses to stay afloat at a time when many are forced to cutback hours, staff and spend less on marketing
As a seasoned marketer and SEO professional, I’ve seen quite a few economic downturns. Through the years, I’ve kept note of creative ways businesses have kept the lights on and attracted customers during uncertain times. Here are a few of them to help your SMB during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Set up an outside table or “lemonade stand” in front of your business. Put up a feather flag. Hand out samples, drinks, and other small items to passersby. PRO TIP: Set up 2 6-foot tables long ways side-by-side to keep the 6-foot personal space boundary (social distancing) between your employees and the general public.
- Offer free items to service workers. Announce the time and date on Facebook with an event, and re-post on your other social channels.
- Announce sales events socially and offer to deliver your items for free, with a bonus. Example: If you are a bookstore, have a free iced coffee delivered with any book purchase over $50.
- Hold a social media contest to attract customers. 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.
- Games! This could be a trivia contest, or an online scavenger hunt. Use your social channels to announce and help people participate easily.
- Take a look at opportunities for traffic growth without advertising. How is your Google My Business listing doing? Can you update your store hours, business description, photos? Keeping this fresh may help you rank locally for mobile searches. Also, take this time to reach out to current customers and ask for a Google review.
- Set up a video system. Examples can be online yoga, fitness classes, or even health-related consultations. Make a Facebook event for Facebook Live, or hold video classes at normal times your customers expect.
- Offer coupons for your current customers if they refer someone during the downturn.
- Start an email incentives referral program. Help your business ride out the storm by emailing your current customers and giving them coupons, free items, or other values if they refer someone via email to your business. This helps you grow your email list and your social channels.
Most importantly, don’t forget your employees! When business is slow for a small business with part timers, the employees who count on the income will see a reduction in pay if you cut back.
Here are a few ways you can help them:
- If you decide to do a delivery service, add a tip box to your checkout forms (or a reminder in the thank you email to tip the delivery person).
- Offer to pick up the tab for morning coffee, donuts, or a snack during the day for a week or two.
- Bargain with a local daycare to see if you can arrange a discount in exchange for your services or goods and pass the discount to your employees who have kids out of school.
We hope this list helps spark some fresh ideas for your business as you weather out the coronavirus outbreak. Stay healthy!