With the general populace staying indoors (likely over the next few weeks), your organization’s online presence is more important than ever. Not only should your digital marketing channels be used to keep your clients abreast of your hours and services during this time, but you should continue to improve upon your presence as best as possible, to make the transition back to “everyday life” that much easier and stronger. For many, this means getting creative and trying new things out.
Make Your Business Malleable
Below are ideas on how to weather the changing economic climate, and some great examples of local Bellingham businesses doing what they can.
Change your structure
Some businesses simply must go on e.g. grocery stores, hospitals, and even repair garages. We’re particularly impressed by Harmony Motorworks who is still fixing cars without clients ever needing to enter their shop. People can call them directly and setup an appointment, per usual; however, now they’re accepting payments over the phone and transferring sanitized keys in a no-contact dropbox ultimately limiting any in-person contact.
Note: They’ve gone the extra mile by updating their website’s homepage with the temporary changes in business model.
Move your services to video
It has been especially difficult for gyms, yoga studios, and the like, to continue their regular programming. Take a hot tip from Intent Hot Yoga and consider moving your classes to video. They’re working with Zoom to cast their classes, offering their playlists via Spotify for others to listen along.
Apex Fitness Northwest has moved their daily workouts to Instagram including videos, how-to’s, and alternate ideas for weights, e.g. gallons of water or soup cans. Kudos for creativity!
Finally, woman-owned Wink Wink regularly offers in-person classes and workshops above their store but moved to Uber Conference for the foreseeable future. Way to be flexible!
Note: If your team is new to working from home and online together, check out of some of our suggestions on running your business remotely
Add an online shopping cart
Many local businesses rely on simple websites to entice people to their establishments for in-person purchases. But with people staying inside, brick-and-mortar sales are getting tough.
The Comics Place, our neighbor in the Bellingham National Bank Building, is working on adding Shopify to their website so people can buy online. This is a fantastic idea but can be a tough one to get going quickly without the right help, especially with shipping – but read on for other creative ideas!
Note: Don’t forget that many local businesses already have the option to buy online – rather than looking to Amazon for quarantine activities, e.g. books, notebooks, puzzles, consider your local bookstore or local toy store first. Need something more fun to drink? Order some locally made kombucha or add some delicious vinegar to your water, soda, or dare we say, cocktail.
Shop online, order via phone or email
And pick-up in-store or deliver
If you don’t have the current support to add an online cart, or if it just doesn’t make sense in the long run, offer the ability to shop online and order via phone, email, or form. You can take the order or offer to hold their desired items for 24 hours, pending payment. People can either pick-up from your store, or if you’re feeling like you need to get out, consider delivering straight to people’s doors.
Baby Greens is doing just this by taking phone orders for coffee and in-shop pick-up, and by direct messages for plants and at home-delivery.
We are incredibly impressed with Bellingham’s first local brewery and their response to the announcement of closures. Like all Washington state restaurants, Boundary Bay will be closed for the foreseeable future; however, that won’t stop them from making meals and offering drive-up service! People can either order by stopping by the restaurant, ordering online, or driving through their alleyway for their regular menu. You can still eat well at home!
Note: You can order Boundary Bay and other food from PostMates and VikingFood – a great way for restaurants to reach the masses.
Buy now, redeem later with gift cards
There are a few types of businesses that really can’t do much now such as the travel and hospitality industries. But you can purchase gift cards from your favorite local hotels for friends and in-laws to visit in the future! It’s a win-win-win: people visit you, they get a get-away, and you get your space!
Baby Greens is doubling down by now offering gift cards – get that green!
Leverage your existing digital presence
If you already have a website, promoting ads on Facebook, Instagram, or Google, working on your search engine optimization, etc., keep it up – now is not the time to lose momentum. As a digital marketing company, we are continuing to run our own ads and work on our SEO. Be sure to update your copy and Google My Business page to note the temporary changes in your business model or offerings.
One of our team members worked at Zillow during the 2008 housing crisis, and said the agents who did survive were those who stuck with it, kept their ads going, and were quick to respond to what worked. The best thing you can do before making any big decisions is to talk with the experts. Put together a strategy that works for you.
Note: We’ve seen a number of articles referencing decreasing spend across ad platforms – this means there is less competition on the platforms while people are more likely to peruse the interwebs. Additionally, SEO takes time to build but it can change for the worse pretty quickly with a wrong move, a change in the market, or even a change in Google’s algorithm. For the record, we’re moving forward with our paid ads and SEO strategy for our own business.
We are so impressed with how businesses are responding to social isolation and distancing. We’d love to hear other creative ideas to share with other local businesses across the globe. If you’d like to have a specific brainstorm RE how to best navigate your business through the pandemic, we’d be more than happy to set up a phone call or rap back and forth via email. Be safe and stay healthy!