The coronavirus crisis has created many new hardships for small businesses. But even as businesses are forced to close or operate differently, they're learning to adapt and find creative ways to market their businesses and serve their customers.
Throughout these difficult times, we've seen amazing stories of businesses not just surviving - but thriving!
Here are just a few examples of what other businesses are doing that we hope will encourage and inspire you.
These marketing examples are mostly from local businesses, although there are a few big brands thrown in. We've also tried to categorize them for ease, but most examples fit in multiple categories.
How Small Businesses Are Marketing & Adapting During the Coronavirus:
- Relevant & Empathetic Messaging
- Online Ordering & Delivery
- Virtual Events
- Adapting Business Model
- Inspiration & Engagement - even if you're not open
- Donations & Good Will Marketing
- Free Resources & Offers
Relevant & Empathetic Messaging
"Business as usual" marketing isn't going to cut it right now. To avoid sounding insensitive, you need to adjust your marketing message. Here are a few examples of businesses doing a great job of creating highly relevant messaging that enters the conversation going on in their customers' heads.
Sylvan Learning Center
Notice how this email uses sensitive, empathetic language to highlight how their remote tutoring services can help parents and students at home.
While they offer many different types of insurance, Martin Insurance is running ads to specifically highlight their life insurance policies. Why? Because it's the most relevant to the situation right now.
Papa John's Pizza
There are always a dozen different places you can choose to order a pizza. But by offering no contact delivery options, Papa Johns is standing out with their relevance and sensitivity to their customers' current concerns.
This local pharmacy advertised when a new shipment of in-demand thermometers arrived. This message is great too , because they offered to reserve one when you called.
Online Ordering & Delivery
With all the stay-at-home orders in place, businesses that have been able to switch to online ordering and either curbside pick-up or delivery options have been most successful. Many local restaurants are doing this, but here are a few examples from other types of businesses making delivery work!
Blessings of Hope
This wholesale food bank switched to online ordering and drive-thru style food box distribution.
Busy Bees Pottery & Art Studio
This local art studio normally relies on in-person events and classes. But when the quarantine hit, they got creative put together take-home art kits for kids and families at home.
While their two local brick and mortar stores are closed, this local retailer is innovating to offer a quarterly subscription box filled with handcrafted items.
With large gatherings and sporting events closed for the foreseeable future, many businesses are switching to virtual events. With technology and video, even small meetings can become successful virtual meetings.
Lancaster Barnstormers - Virtual 5K
With major sports events closed for the foreseeable future, teams like the Lancaster Barnstormers are switching to virtual events. Check out this example for their virtual 5K.
EZMarketing - Small Business Support Group
Professional services businesses can also benefit from hosting virtual events like webinars and networking groups. Here's a weekly Zoom call we set up for small business owners to connect and share ideas:
A local karate studio is keeping business going with virtual classes & private lessons.
Hostetter Realty - Lehman Team
While realtors were using photos and 3D tours before, home buyers are becoming more willing to use 3D tours to purchase a home, without ever seeing it in person!
Adapting Business Model
Shady Maple Smorgasboard
Like other local restaurants, Shady Maple was forced to close the dine-in portion of their restaurant. They've done a great job of getting the word out about their To Go menu options, especially with this prominent new banner on their website homepage.
Panera had been offering mobile ordering and local delivery long before the coronavirus hit. But by adding grocery delivery, they're creating additional value for their customers and finding a creative way to adapt their business and generate new revenue.
This York-based tour bus company is diversifying to offer cleaning services.
Goat 2 Meeting
Sweet Farm, a Silicon Valley animal sanctuary, will bring a cute farm animal to your next Zoom meeting for just $100. Talk about creative adaptation!
Inspiration & Engagement
Despite her business currently being closed by the Governor's order, owner Kristen Green is doing an amazing job engaging her audience with video tutorials, updates, and inspiration. This one post - targeting healthcare workers and first responders - earned 149 comments!
An outdoor adventure center and retreat, Refreshing Mountain is closed right now, but still finding ways to engage kids and families remotely. Email messages offered free coloring pages and built anticipation for a big virtual reveal of their new Wildlife Center. Now, they're offering weekly videos featuring interesting wildlife.
Donations & Good Will Marketing
Be as generous as you can. Generating trust and goodwill can go a long way right now. By offering donations, supporting the local community, and helping medical professionals, these companies are creating positive exposure and trust.
Park City Diner & Knight and Day Diner
These sister diners gave away free Easter dinner to healthcare workers and first responders
Thistle Finch Distillery
This Lancaster distillery started using excess alcohol to manufacture hand sanitizer to help during pandemic.
C.E. Pontz & Sons
This local landscaping company is selling Love Lancaster t-shirts to raise money for local businesses who are shut down.
Bird in Hand Fabric
Like many local clothing and sewing shops, Bird in Hand fabric switched to making and selling masks and even partners with the local hospital to provide masks for medical staff.
Free Resources & Offers
People are anxious for help and information right now. If you're still able to deliver products and services, a special offer might help entice a customer to buy. And free resources and education are a great way to get your name out there and establish yourself as a trusted resource during these troubling times.
We helped put together an industry resource website for IT Support and Managed Services companies across the country.
This employment law firm leverages their specialized expertise to provide a COVID-19 resource center with information on legal, labor, and employee issues.
To help small businesses keep marketing and sustaining their businesses during this pandemic, we're offering an unprecedented 50% discount off our monthly marketing services.
(While this offer has now expired, you can still schedule a free marketing consultation with us!)
And if you have more examples of local businesses doing great marketing, let us know!