Ah Summer 2020 – we made it.
What started out as any other typical year, quickly turned into a living nightmare (to say the least). Some businesses had it worse than others, while some businesses were deemed “essential” – aka winning the business lottery, something that was never a thought prior to 2020.
The businesses that are hurting the most though are you, the local small business owners of America. Years and years of hard work and then all of sudden *NOSE DIVE* onto the cold, uneven pavement; employees furloughed and for some of you, maybe even closing your doors for good. ????
If you are a business owner that has persevered through the hot mess called 2020 so far, I know you are watching those hard-earned dollars even more closely than before – and rightfully so. BUT, how are you supposed to market your business with a limited budget? Luckily living in the digital age, there are some digital marketing techniques you can invest your time into to help you grow your business locally:
1. Google My Business
Google accounts for more than 90% of organic searches on desktop computers, (1.) therefore you should be investing some of your attention to the platform. Google My Business is a free business listing tool that helps your business appear in searches – as long as you fill out all the information. You can add photos, videos, local sales/ COVID-19 specials, and have people leave reviews – aka saying nice things about you/ your business. If you have not already created a GMB listing, simply follow the instructions from the link above; if you have a listing already, then go back and give it some TLC. This tool is super super powerful, hence why it’s #1 on my list.
2. Social Media
For the average small business owner, your social platforms worthwhile will more than likely be Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Facebook has a ton of local groups (look by your town or county) that are always looking for business recommendations. GET INTO THOSE GROUPS ASAP. It’s a direct way to market yourself and it’s extremely effective given they are hyperlocal groups.
On LinkedIn, use the LinkedIn Articles feature to pump out a blog post that relates to your target audience. Write about useful tips (just like this article you’re reading right now) pertaining to your industry; you can also repurpose the article into a blog post for your business website which can then be pushed out via email blasts and/or social media posts.
Even if your business does not have special promos, it’s important to still be posting on your social media channels. Keep the verbiage contextual to what’s going on in the world and/or your business – it’s a great way to show people in the community that your business is still alive and kicking! Remember, stay authentic.
3. Virtual Networking Groups
Pivot! That’s exactly what a ton of networking groups did when the world pandemic hit earlier in 2020. While there are a lot of businesses that have opened recently, there are a lot of businesses (inclusive of networking groups, remember a lot of them are a for profit business too) that will still have to wait until they can re-open and/or regain some sort of normality. There are a ton of networking groups you can join remotely:
North Essex Chamber of Commerce (Look for a chamber near you, a lot of them went digital! Happy to introduce you to Amiee, Exec Director for NECC.)
Switch Events (Happy to personally introduce you to the Founder, Sid Vaidya.)
The Networking Group (They have groups in NYC, NJ, & PA – also happy to introduce you to someone that can get you started here.)
4. Plan Ahead For Content
While this line item isn’t necessarily a tactic, it is a great idea and something you need to be taking advantage of at the moment – plan ahead for your social media posts.
For some of you business owners, that simply may mean taking photos/ videos that you can later use for marketing purposes or finding imagery online – heck, even a mixture of both. I definitely recommend using real life imagery if you can, however having a mixture of both isn’t the worst. Organize your photos so you can grab and go when things start booming again with business – because as we know, social media is one of the first elements that gets pushed onto the back burner. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even go ahead and pre-write posts to go with your imagery.
5. Update Your Website
Working in the marketing world, next to social media falling off the list of priorities when you’re being stretched in 1,000 directions would be your business website. (It’s ok, we’re not judging you!)
While the rest of the people in the world are familiarizing themselves with the new societal norms, take some time and dedicate it to your business website. What services are you offering? When’s the last time your website was updated? Is your website in “good health”? How many lines of communication are open to your business right now? (phone, email, chat feature on website, contact forms, landing pages, etc.)
If your website is running on a WordPress platform, there are a TON of free plugins your business can be utilizing for open lines of communication.
I know for a lot of you business owners, times are uncertain and they will be for a while. The positive spin on this is truly taking advantage of the slower days/ weeks (and hopefully not too many months) ahead and working on your business.
“Paying it forward” to people who could benefit from your products or services is another way you can generate goodwill with customers or clients. On that note of paying it forward, if anyone reading this would like to further delve into the above topics regarding their business, please email me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay well, stay healthy, and stay positive!