It’s no secret that many small and local companies have struggled to stay in business this past year due to unforeseen challenges and the global pandemic. Many businesses have needed to shut their doors partially, if not permanently, during these unprecedented times. 

However, many companies have continued to thrive due to smart marketing tactics and the backing of loyal customers, even if they weren’t performing all services or operating at full capacity. Whether you’re a business owner or a patron looking to support local, check out these ways you can support small businesses and make a difference in your community. 

Buy Small, Think Big

Buying from small businesses helps support the big picture for your community. Whether you’re an individual looking to print your wedding invitations or a business trying to stock your letterhead, consider going with a small business versus a megadealer. Many small businesses rely on income from in-person visits in their local community. As a business owner, that means less foot traffic during the pandemic has affected their small businesses in a much bigger way than a big box store. When you buy your products and services from other small, local businesses, you’re helping to extend a lifeline. Together, we can band together by supporting small businesses.

Encourage Referrals

People trust the people they know. Use your loyal followers to spread the word about your small business. Make printable referral cards or send them via email with a special code. Use that code to offer a discount if a new customer is referred by one of your tried and true followers. Give an incentive to your loyal customers, as well. That way, you’re encouraging repeat business, as well as finding new customers.

Give Out Swag

Branded swag items are both fun to get and a great way to get your name out there. For example, put an easy-to-remember website address on the back of a well-designed shirt and you’ve now created a walking billboard. The shirt mobilizes your brand by putting your name on the backs of some of your biggest fans. If the shirt is funny or mysterious enough to pique the interest of strangers, you’ve suddenly created new word-of-mouth opportunities. Consider offering social giveaways for people to spot the shirts or other branded swag items around town. When they post a picture on social media, they win a prize (or discount!) to your store.

Push Gift Cards Sales

If you’re a small business owner looking to make profits now, but your doors are currently closed due to restrictions, consider pushing gift card sales. Print gift cards that have an encouraging message or an incentive to use soon or when you open to full capacity. You’d be surprised at how far a heartfelt ask can go at helping your customers understand that you are in need of funds now in order for you to serve them in the future. 

While these are hard times for everybody, remember that we’re all human. It’s a great time to get creative with your marketing efforts and encourage your customers to support small and local businesses. Those that already know and love you have your back. Be empathetic with your messages and consider new ways to encourage supporting the small but mighty businesses in your community.