Welp, Here We Are COVID-19
Any small business owner knows to expect the unexpected. However, I don’t think any of us could have prepared for the utter devastation that COVID-19 would bring to businesses, especially small businesses, during this time. And it is a devastation – to our processes, to our services, and to our bottom lines. However, if there is one thing we know, it is how to reinvent. While this was not wanted, and it is certainly not a welcome change to our businesses, it does beg the question – are we the best business we can be?
At Color Fire, for instance, we pride ourselves on providing a marketing agency experience at a price point small businesses can afford. The best part is that we really see how people respond, business owners and their clients alike, to polished graphics, engaging content, and targeted marketing campaigns. On the other side of that coin, literally, we have sacrificed a typically higher profit margin by passing those savings on to our clients. So, we feel it when our very loyal customer base is hurting. We are in it with them and are working harder for them.
I know that stands true for our small business owners too. Many of our clients have doubled down on their efforts to push their services via social media, email, and all things online. During our social distancing, digital marketing has shown its value more than ever. We have also worked hard to respond quickly to business hours and operation updates on their various online profiles, and websites. We would also like to help out other small businesses. So, if we can offer any advice, it would be this:
Don’t Give Up on Marketing
Having a large agency background, I know that the first thing to be cut is always marketing. Time and time again this continues to be the worst move. Don’t get me wrong, you may need to reassess and reallocate your marketing budget, but don’t drop it. The clients we see succeeding during this time are working hard to stay online and relevant. Here are some ways you can do the same:
- Reach Out. Be it email or a social media post, keep your customers updated. The majority are working from home, and you have their attention more than ever. Consider adding an email newsletter sign up form to your website or social media platforms.
- Build Your Community Up. Join the Take-Out Facebook group in your area, offer free downloadable coloring pages on your newsletter, or create content about how this is affecting your business. People are engaging and want to help support small businesses. Even if they can’t afford it now, they will remember who was talking with them during this time.
- Give Your Business Some Love. Remember saying you don’t have time for marketing? Well, that actually might be true for many small business owners at this time (trust us, we understand). However, there are a lot of people looking for extra work. That 19-year-old server that has more downtime due to carryout only? Get them in charge of your Instagram. You still have aces. Put them in their places.
Know Your SBA Resources
All of us small businesses are in an uncertain time. And with COVID-19 disrupting our economy, we are going to need some help. While many businesses are reinventing and doing a great job of staying relevant, we still don’t know how long this will last. That is why you have some resources at your disposal.
- Payment Protection Program – This is a loan forgiveness program to help small businesses retain their employees by temporarily expanding the traditional SBA 7(a) loan program.
- EIDL Loan Advance – This loan provides up to $10K of economic relief to small businesses experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This is also a forgivable loan.
- SBA Express Bridge Loans – This loan allows small businesses who already have a relationship with an SBA Express Lender to get up to $25K quickly.
- SBA Debt Relief – This outlines how the SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of current and new 7(a), 504, and microloans and what that includes.
While these are just some of the ways small businesses can get some financial assistance, there are many more resources avaiable on the U.S. Small Businesses Administration’s website.
Know Additional Marketing Resources
As a small business agency, we are working hard with our clients during COVID-19. While we always work hard, we are putting the pedal to the metal. Often times going beyond budget, working late nights, and turning around deliverables faster than we ever had – at no additional cost to our clients. That is because we know small businesses need to support each other. If you are running your own small business marketing, consider applying for some of the following programs:
- MailChimp’s Small Business Support Fund – If you use MailChimp for your email marketing efforts, they are currently giving $10M in services away to their small business customers.
- Facebook’s Small Business Grant Program – They are offering businesses, with less than 50 people, that are in or near their Facebook locations up to $100M in cash grants and ad credits.
- Google Ads Credits for Small + Medium Businesses – There is $340M in Google Ad credits available to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year.
We also recommend you check with your vendors, small business organizations, and local government for additional resources. It’s in all of our best interest to help each other out during this time. It’s not just good investment, it’s goodwill. If you can, support your local small businesses the best you can too.
There is no hiding this is a difficult time. And all the platitudes in the world won’t make it less so. However, something that never goes out of style is gratitude. At Color Fire, it is to our employees, who work hard for our clients. It is also our customers, who are not just our clients, but in many situations have become an extension of our Color Fire family. To all our customers, please know we understand where you are at. Remember, we have no cancelation fees and are happy to work on adjusting budgets, deferring payments, or creating some extra content as needed. We want you to know we are here for you too.
And we would be remiss if we didn’t give thanks to all the heroes that come out of every bad situation. From the teachers that have had to change up classroom schedules and expectations mid-year to our healthcare providers that are working endlessly to help those affected by COVID-19. Yet, beyond that, we want everyone, from the cleaning crews to food truck drivers, to the kids making beautiful decor for the senior centers – you are all inspiring and appreciated. If we have any takeaway from this pandemic, it’s that we are all in this for more than the bottom line. We are here together and can make it out the other side. Thank you for your part.