Guest opinion: 6 tips every small business should follow to survive during COVID-19
As the coronavirus crisis continues to escalate — even as many Utah counties have reached the yellow, low-level of restrictions — many small business owners are losing hope of navigating their business successfully through the pandemic.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported on March 23 that 76% of small businesses said they had already been negatively impacted by the current public health crisis.
Instead of waiting in limbo while their company awaits word from the local and federal government regarding funding and shutdown timelines, some Utah businesses have figured out how to become proactive in ensuring their livelihood. The following are seven types of local SEO survival efforts that some savvy businesses, large and small, are making to improve their success.
1. Be adaptable and willing to try new things.
Coronavirus has fundamentally altered the meaning of “normal” for society, and it’s critical to be flexible and adapt to the changing needs of the market. There has never been more reason to try those new business strategies that are outside of your comfort zone but could save your company. Here are two examples of business adaptability:
Ogden’s Own: This distillery, known for its Five Wives Vodka, halted its liquor production and got clearance to start making hand sanitizer instead.
Wriggles Wraps: This casual eatery added sharable, freezable menu items that can easily be brought to neighbors or added to frozen food storage. They also paused catering to provide meal donations to first responders and healthcare workers.
2. Show what you’re doing to protect the public and employees.
During times of crisis, consumer confidence is more important to have than almost anything else. How are you keeping your customers safe? What about your valuable employees? Whatever you’re doing, make it visible to your target audience through updates on your website, Google My Business page and other social media profiles.
Harmon's, for example, is a local Utah grocer that has not only reduced its operating hours to allow employees more time to rest and be with their families but has also put up plexiglass barriers to minimize customer and employee exposure to the virus.
3. Support fellow businesses.
What goes around comes around, they say. If you want the community to support your business, it’s time to ramp up your efforts to support other companies in return.
The Provo-based 2for1 mobile app is setting the standard in Utah for business-to-business support in its recently launched initiative called the Utah Restaurant Resurgence. 2for1 partnered up with the Gregory and Julie Cook Foundation and purchased $100,000 worth of food from local restaurants (equating to around 10,000 meals) in order to serve app users for free. The primary goal of this initiative was to drive consumers to order more takeout from restaurants all over the state — so far, it’s been a great success. Businesses like Burgers Supreme saw that those redeeming the free offers were also spending money at the restaurant as they’d hoped. You can participate or learn more about this initiative here: https://www.2for1.com/utahrestaurantresurgence.
4. Run post-pandemic promotions.
Post-pandemic promotions are a savvy way to get business to flood back to you when the pandemic is over, especially if you’re a nonessential business such as a salon, spa, movie theater, boutique, etc.
If you were a small clothing retailer, for instance, you could use social media or paid ads to run a promotion that encourages your customer base to spend $100 on your website and earn a $70 in-store credit to use when your storefront is back open. This gives people something to look forward to, creates positive feelings about your business and makes people want to spend money at your store. Best of all, it increases your odds of a strong rebound when this is all over.
5. Repurpose social posts about your company.
Did you know that, with the owner’s permission, you can repurpose the positive social content your customers have shared about your business? When consumers share reviews and good experiences, they usually do it with the intent of helping the company, so get as much mileage out of it as you can.
Lately, Crumbl has been especially proactive and diligent about reposting Instagram stories of families bonding over cookies in quarantine. One family’s content was repurposed with the caption, “The best stay-at-home activity,” encouraging other families to follow suit.
6. Engage and connect with your community on social media.
Businesses large and small are cornerstones of their communities. When customers are no longer on your premises interacting with you in person, they expect you to engage them on social media. There are endless ways you can stay connected to them and show your continued value in people’s towns. Here are two favorites:
Contests: Leatherby’s Family Creamery (opening in Orem on Monday) is hosting a coloring contest just for fun. The winner will receive a prize, and their artwork will be hung in the store windows.
Giveaways: Want to give away product to draw in new business? Encourage your followers to tag friends and spread the word for a chance to win free stuff.
Small business survival during a crisis doesn’t always come down to protecting cash flow or making budget cuts. Sometimes, it simply means showing some heart and community spirit. Local businesses are proving there are ways to come out of this pandemic stronger by looking out for others — your employees, customers and other businesses in your position. Ultimately, we can’t get through this without each other.