This week I had a conversation with a friend. She told me some of her neighbors who owned businesses and some of her favorite retail establishments, intend to go out of business at the end of the month, due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the resulting temporary shutdown.
“Wait a minute!” I thought. I mean, I get it. If those business owners are like most of us, we can’t imagine that the government will shoulder the burdens we’ve faced in the last month. But going out of business? There must be another way. I searched online for the businesses my friend mentioned and realized they didn’t have much of an online presence—no functioning website, no social media advertising, and no definitive brand. That means with the current stay at home orders in place, there is no real way for their audiences to reach them. That’s unfortunate, because now, perhaps more than ever, audiences are yearning for ways to stay in contact with, and remain patrons of their favorite businesses.
When I think about it, I believe the Coronavirus pandemic has pushed business owners into the future. It's horrible how that push has come, but it’s a push nonetheless. Even before the pandemic, brick and mortar stores were fast becoming inconvenient and losing share to online retailers. Digital marketing was and is the direction we are headed. And now—with the Coronavirus causing so much uncertainty for small businesses—is the right time to take full advantage of its effectiveness and benefits.
Bakerstreet Market, a small gourmet shop in the town of Maplewood, NJ, is a phenomenal example of how to make the transition. The shop opened in December of 2019. When the Coronavirus emergency hit in March, the popular new market faced a crisis. The owners developed a plan for a complete transition to online service using instagram (@bakerstreetmarket) and their website bakerstreetmarket.com to stay connected with their audience, offer online ordering and scheduled delivery. The market’s small town feel and warm brand personality are still alive—online. If you own a business and are thinking of closing it down permanently, ask yourself if you have made the most of online sales and digital marketing. The service you provide is valuable. In this unprecedented time, the transition can help you stay connected while helping your audience #staysafe and #staysocial.
--Monica is President of Seaberry Design