Your business’s doors may be closed in the wake of COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean your customers can’t still support you. Local businesses across the country have been finding resourceful ways to connect with their customers and generate sales across social distancing measures and economic uncertainty. Inspired by their creativity, we’ve gathered our team and put together a list of 55 ways to stay open for business during quarantine, even when your doors are closed.
We’ve sorted our ideas into the following categories:
We hope these tactics spark ideas and inspire new strategies you can use for your own business. If you need advice or assistance, please reach out. We’re here to help.
General Tips & Strategies
1. Open an Online Store…Yesterday
With customers no longer able to visit your business in person, an online store lets you continue reaching your audience and generating revenue. If you don’t have an ecommerce store set up, do it now. If you need a platform recommendation, our pick is Volusion’s Curbside, which lets you set up a free ecommerce pickup and delivery website quickly and easily. Volusion is currently offering free hosting and payments for a year.
2. Reduce Costs Where You Can
Minimize excess business expenses (shipping, packaging) and be cautious and extra considerate of people-related expenses. This can be a good time to review recurring costs and remove the items you no longer need.
3. Adjust Return and Exchange Policies
Temporarily adjusting these policies to fit consumer situations will help align your business with current buying behaviors. Policies like these can be a deciding factor for whether to purchase from you or your competition.
4. Uncover the Hidden Talents in Your Employees
You might be surprised by your employees’ hidden creative talents and passions. If you’re not great with tech, finding people on your team who can set up your website, design the graphics, write blog and social posts, etc. is one way to keep your people working and paid, even when there’s not regular work for them.
5. Plan Ahead
Have a plan in place to help your business meet consumer demands when the economy shifts back to normal.
Delivery and Beyond: Same Products & Services, Same Local Customers
6. Join All the Delivery Services
With everyone staying home, food delivery is becoming even more common than it already was. Cast a wide net by joining the big delivery services like Uber Eats and Grubhub, but also see if there are local delivery services you can join too.
7. Offer Curbside Pick-Up
This is a great way to continue your business as “normal” while still abiding by social distancing. Allow your customers to place their orders online then drive to your business for pick-up where you load their purchase into their trunk. As mentioned above, Volusion is offering a free pickup/delivery website that makes curbside pick-up super easy to add to your website.
8. Use Every Delivery as a Marketing Opportunity
Every order can be a great way to market your business. In every order, add coupons, menus, a magnet with your web address & phone number, something extra to remind your customers about your business after they receive their order.
Same Great Products & Services….Just Online
9. Sell Gift Cards Online
Allow your customers to purchase gift cards that they can use when they’re able to visit your business again. It’s a great way for customers to support your business, while still getting value for future purchases.
10. Package Your Goods, Freeze and Sell Online
From ice cream to chili, open up your business to a national audience by freezing your products and selling them online. This could be a great new revenue stream for now and something you can continue in the future.
11. Sell Virtual Classes and Courses
Meeting in person might not be happening right now, so why not move your in-person services online? For example if you are a yoga or fitness studio, record a week’s worth of classes and sell the digital downloads online. For restaurants, have your chef record a step-by-step cooking instruction video and sell it on your website or even your Facebook page.
12. Offer Free Home Delivery
If you are able to, offer to drop off your local customers purchases yourself. This is particularly impactful if you sell large items like furniture or outdoor plants, but home delivery could apply to just about any business. Be sure to take safety precautions for yourself and your customers.
13. Enable Shoppable Posts
Bring your products to your clients while they’re on Instagram. Allow them to access your products by enabling shoppable posts and tagging products for followers to see and shop while on social media.
New, Ecommerce-Friendly Products & Packages
14. Repurpose Your Products or Services
Is there a more useful or helpful way you can repurpose your products on a temporary basis? For example, some distilleries are making hand sanitizer instead of alcohol and many apparel companies are now making face masks. Is there something different you could produce that’s in high demand right now?
15. Create Brand New Products
Take this time to do some R&D and come up with new products you can sell when your doors re-open. Get together (virtually) with a group of 10 fellow coworkers or stakeholders to do a judgement-free brainstorm on new products and ventures that your company could conceivably implement. For the ideas you greenlight, offer pre-sales of the product to help fund it. You could even consider crowdfunding the idea on Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
16. Sell Recipes Online
Let your customers make some of your best dishes at home by selling recipes online, maybe just leave out the secret ingredient. It’s a great way to not only generate some revenue, but your customers gain a whole new appreciation for the love you put into your cooking.
17. Dropship Apparel
Many people are looking for ways to support local businesses. Simply placing your logo or slogan on a t-shirt or coffee mug is an easy offering. There are plenty of companies out there like Printful and Printify who create the products, pack and ship them for you, no need to purchase or store inventory.
18. Sell Experience Packages
Create packages full of all the items your customers need to create a custom experience at home. Some ideas could be, an at-home spa day kit or an Italian dinner experience. Get creative and think what packages make sense for your business.
19. Sell Subscription Boxes
Recurring revenue can be a nice new revenue stream for your business. One popular way of generating recurring revenue is by starting a subscription box. For example a book of the month box or hot sauce subscription service. Think about what you sell and turn it into a subscription box. There are even subscription box marketplaces like Cratejoy where you can find customers or really…customers find you.
20. Put Together Care Packages
Put together small samples of your best sellers into one kit for your customers to send to friends and family. Maybe include a handwritten note or something special to help your customers show their family and friends that they care.
21. Sell “Advance Purchase” Packages
If you are a service-based business, like a hairstylist or consultant, creating packages that your customers can purchase now and book at a later date could be a good way to generate revenue. These work really well if you discount the purchase too, it gives your customers an added incentive to buy now.
22. Offer Virtual Coaching and Consulting
What are you an expert in? Maybe it’s directly related to your business or it’s a little more far removed. Either way, offering virtual consultations can be a great way to continue helping your customers while you are apart.
Staying Connected To Your Customers & Community
23. Update Your Website and Social Accounts
Let customers know you’re open and about any new processes they should be aware of. Make it very obvious that you are still up and running. If you offer online ordering and pick up in store, make it very easy to understand and clearly outline each step. Notice any common questions and address those as well.
24. Talk to Your Customers
Not sure how you can help your customers? Ask them. What do they want or need right now? What challenges are they facing that you can help them with?
25. Host Virtual “Fireside Chats”
You can invite customers to listen to a topic they would find interesting and lead a discussion with people in your industry. Offer a discount at the end for those who participated.
26. Host Video Happy Hours
Have some fun with your customers! Play virtual pictionary through video chat or share some virtual drinks and just chat. It’s a great way to engage your customers, build relationships for when your doors re-open.
27. Donate Products and/or Services
This is a great time to reach out to your community and help those in need. This is less about generating revenue and more about generating good will and doing what you can as a member of your community.
28. Tap Into Your Network
Work with your network to get creative about things you can offer customers at this time like free shipping or special offers. Create mutually beneficial partnerships, which are more important now than ever.
29. Partner with Your Neighbors & Host Local Online Events
With so many people wanting to support local businesses, teaming up with fellow businesses in your community can be a great way to tap into each other’s networks. Work together to throw online events like an “online block party” or “virtual farmer’s market.” Collectively, you and your neighbors are a strong marketing force that can garner local news and generate buzz.
30. Solidify Your Brand
Use this time to create a cohesive brand across all avenues and channels. If your branding is different in different places, it can create a poor experience and image of your business.
31. Go Live!
Personalize your brand with a Facebook/ Instagram live story. You could address how your industry and community is in this together and talk about what your business is doing to give back.
Marketing To Your Current Customers
32. Leverage Your Signage
Use your brick & mortar signage, marquees, sandwich boards, etc. to announce your website and other offers. Get the word out that you are still in business and going strong.
33. Get the Word Out Online
Once you have a plan on what you’re going to do, email your customers and let them know. Post to your social media accounts. Update your website. Let the world know what you are offering and how they can support you.
34. Send Out Postcards
Lots of customers will be receiving emails from businesses, but to stand out, consider sending postcards to your customers reminding them you are still open, just online now. If you don’t feel like handwriting each one yourself, checkout Handwrytten or Postcards from Mailchimp.
35. Run a Customer Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are a great way to grow sales and repeat purchases. They work great virtually too, customers can still get their virtual “cards” stamped with loyalty points that add up to special discounts and deals.
36. Launch a Referral Program
One of the best ways for word to spread about your business is through word of mouth. A referral program is like a little nudge, it helps incentivize customers to share what they love about your business with their friends and family.
37. Have a Sale
Evaluate your inventory and put things on sale that’s time to get rid of. Also consider selling shop fixtures that you don’t need or use anymore to other businesses.
38. Price Match Where Possible
To keep your business competitive, try to offer price guarantees for products that you can. For some consumers this could be a deciding factor in purchasing from you or your competition.
39. Get Some Local PR
Look for local resources and publications that are amplifying local businesses and reach out to be included when possible. Letting them know about what you’re doing to help your community is a great way to get mentioned.
40. Nurture VIP Relationships
20% of your customers = 80% of your revenue. Take some time to check in with your most loyal customers, see how they are doing and let them know what you are up to.
41. Issue Instagram-Friendly Challenges
Challenge your customers on Instagram. Ask, “Who can make the prettiest at-home plating, the best pairing with a local drink, the best DIY nails, the most creative use of our product, etc.” It can be a fun challenge that spreads to new customers and grows brand loyalty with existing ones.
Reaching Brand New Customers
42. Start a Podcast and/or a Youtube Channel
This is a great time to create content around your expertise! Podcasts and videos are very popular right now, and if you have the time, create some. Not only will this benefit you now, but in the future as well, your podcasts and videos last forever.
43. Build Your Brand on Tik Tok
Tik Tok is the new social network that is blowing up right now. Give it a try if you haven’t already, tap into a new audience and grow your brand. Tik Tok is all about fun, so just have fun with it.
44. Advertising on Different Platforms
Now could be a good opportunity to find new audiences. Set aside a little bit of money and try advertising on a different platform than you usually do. Test our Facebook ads or YouTube ads, you never know where you could find your next fanbase.
45. Start an Online Club or Facebook Group
Create a group for people to chat about hobbies related to your business. For instance, if you sell automotive parts, get a conversation started among car lovers and start building a community.
46. Run Facebook Ads
Facebook ads can be very effective in driving targeted traffic to your website at an affordable price. You can get quite specific if targeting too, such as targeting locals in your area.
47. Start Running Shopping Feeds
With Amazon’s shipping delays and fluctuating inventory, more people are turning to Google to find the products they need. Shopping feeds are a great way to get in front of motivated shoppers.
48. Utilize Lifestyle Content
Show how people are using your products/ services during covid-19, this reinstalls the value of your brand during this time and allows consumers to see themselves also using your brand.
49. Maximize Marketing with Retargeting Ads
After customers visit your website, you can bring them back with target ads. It’s a very effective way to capture sales you wouldn’t have received otherwise.
Website Optimization & More
50. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
More and more shopping is being done on mobile devices. If you don’t have a mobile responsive website, now’s the time to upgrade. There are a ton of great responsive themes and templates to get you started.
51. Set Up Shopping Cart Abandonment Emails
A large potion on online shoppers leave items in their cart without purchasing. Shopping cart abandonment emails automatically email these customers with a reminder to complete their checkout. This has proven to increase website sales and is pretty easy to set up.
52. Optimize Your Site for Speed
Faster website’s sell more, which means it’s a good idea to test how long it takes your website to load and make improvements based on your findings. A great tool is Google’s PageSpeed Insights, it will test your site’s speed and give you some actionable steps to improve your speed.
53. Work on Your Website Design and SEO
If you find yourself with downtime, invest in the behind the scenes aspects of your website that will pay off later. Updating your design and improving your search engine optimization can pay off substantially in the future.
54. Grow Your Email List
Build up your supply of potential customers (i.e. email list) so that when people are able to purchase again, you’ve got a nice warm audience to market to.
55. Don’t Give Up!!!
Your local community WANTS to support you. Give them a way to do that and you’ll bounce back stronger than ever!