The world is in a weird place right now. We’re distancing ourselves from friends & family. So many of us are out of work and others are struggling to keep their businesses going. Nothing about our day to day seems normal. Today I wanted to use the blog as a way to highlight how you can make a difference in your community. Here are a few ways to support small businesses:
Leave A Review
Anyone who has ten minutes can easily support their favorite local or small businesses by leaving a review online. Depending on the business this may take the form of a Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, Google, Angie’s List, or even Glassdoor review!
Each review platform has their own algorithms and some small businesses won’t have a presence on each site but reviews are a great way to support a small business. If you’ve taken photos from a previous visit, don’t forget to add those to your review to help establish credibility. I also find that reviews that mention a specific visit or experience instead of general statements about the company tend to stick around longer.
If you’re not familiar with some of the main review platforms, I’ll break them down quickly! Yelp is probably the most well known review platform and covers not only restaurants but a variety of local and service based businesses as well. If you wanted to review a salon, bakery, dry cleaners, pet supply store, or computer repair company Yelp would be a great place to start!
OpenTable is solely for restaurants and only allows reviews from people with verified visits that were made through their app. Last week I went through all my past reservations where I had a great experience and finally finished the review process since I tend to forget normally.
TripAdvisor is similar to Yelp and focuses on local restaurants, hotels, businesses, excursions, etc. TripAdvisor also has a larger international presence so if you’re trying to promote a business to an out of market or international crowd who will be travelling to your area, TripAdvisor is a great place to start!
Google reviews have changed a few times recently but are so important to a business. You can easily find Google reviews by googling a company and then on the right hand side of the search screen, scroll down until you get to “Reviews” and then select “Write A Review”.
Angie’s List is great for household recommendations like electricians, house cleaners, or painting services.
I wanted to include GlassDoor on this list because I feel like when you get a new job, one of the last things on your mind is to go back and review your old employer (unless you had an awful experience). GlassDoor reviews help future employees learn about a business. If you’re currently working for an organization that you love, let the world know and take the time to leave them a review!
While we’re discussing reviews, I’d also like to note, if you had an average or less than stellar experience with a business, now may not be the best time to go back and share about your experience. Obviously use your best judgement but so many people and businesses are hurting now. Is the overly sweet margarita you got back in January worth bringing up now?
Share On Social
Another great way you can support your favorite businesses is by sharing their content on social, increasing their reach! Share your favorite restaurant’s takeout menu. Share an IGTV from your favorite service based business. Tag a local retailer if you’re hanging out in their loungewear. Depending on how you use your social channels, you could even create content for small businesses to use.
When I’m working on my restaurant accounts, I love reposting cute photos our guests take and share with us!
So many small businesses don’t have a robust marketing budget and sharing their content on your social channel is an easy way to connect them to potential customers!
Prepay For Your Next Appointment
If you’re in a financial position to be able to, consider prepaying for your next appointment. This provides your hairdresser, eyelash technician, or house cleaner some much needed cash flow. Did you know that most independent contractors or those who are self employed are excluded from traditional unemployment relief efforts? I know so many of us have been impacted but it’s been heartbreaking to see many of my small business owner friends trying to navigate their new normal.
Before placing another Amazon or Sephora order, consider shopping at your favorite local businesses. Many businesses have enhanced their offerings and are now selling products online or are accepting Venmo or Square payments and offering contactless pickup or delivery. If you’re not sure that a business is selling retail or has what you want, just reach and ask them! I know a salon owner here in town that is easily able to get her wholesale discount pricing online and is happy to pass along some of the savings to her clients. I also know some aestheticians who might not carry a specific product in their daily inventory but can order directly from the manufacturer and ship directly to their clients! It never hurts to ask!
Share With A Friend
It’s great to share reviews online with your network but don’t underestimate the power of real word of mouth marketing. If a friend shares that they’re looking to step up their quarantine outfit game, share with them your favorite boutique’s Instagram shop! Hosting a virtual Zoom Happy Hour? Suggest that attendees purchase cocktails from a local restaurant! It’s so easy to send a Zara link but we can really make an impact by supporting the small businesses that make up our communities!
Purchase A Gift Card
Many businesses have also found a way to offer gift cards during this time. Some are even doing incentive programs or donating proceeds to employee relief efforts. If you know you’re going to spend the money, go ahead and take that budgeted money and purchase gift cards right now. If you have an upcoming celebration or occasion requiring a gift, consider purchasing either retail or a gift card from a local company to give. A local coffee shop gift card and a cute mug are a great way to let a girlfriend know that you’re thinking of her!
Check For New Services or Specials
While we’re all trying to figure out our new normal, many businesses have come up with unique ways to still use their skills but in an alternative fashion. So many new product or serving offerings have emerged during this time! Aestheticians are now doing virtual skin consultations. Fitness trainers are hosting Zoom workout sessions with clients. Spas are doing full facial in a box home treatment kits. Local restaurants are converting into grocery store models or offering cook at home kits. It’s worth checking out your favorite small businesses to see if they’ve come up with any new offerings you might be interested in!
Go Straight To The Source
If you have an opportunity to support a local business directly instead of going through a third party app, please do. For restaurants specifically, I love delivery as much as the next guy, but the fees that Postmates, Uber Eats, GrubHub, DoorDash, etc. take out of each delivery order so deeply cut into a restaurant’s profit margins.
Since we’re sitting in the house all day, I have actually found myself looking forward to a little drive to go pick up dinner occasionally. Call a restaurant directly and place an order for pick up to help keep restaurants open, operating, and taking care of their people.
Offer Your Services
If you have a little extra time why not reach out to a few local businesses and see if you can offer your services for free during this time? I’m not saying you custom develop an entire website or create a full marketing strategy but if you have the skills to take a few photos or are a great copywriter, why not give back a little? This could also be a great way to network and could even possibly turn into paid opportunities down the line.
If you read my May Goals post, you know that I’m trying to write 75 pieces of content in May. Many of those are features and reviews of some of my favorite local San Diego businesses. It’s an easy way for me to give back and highlight the businesses I love so much!
I hope these suggestions were helpful. Be sure to let me know if you have an idea to add to the list!