This week, my flight to Dallas, Texas (of all places) was canceled due to weather. You know that when the southern states close their airports due to snow and ice, the rest of us are in trouble. When your city (let alone half of the country) shuts down due to weather, it effects small business owners worse than the rest of the world. Think about it. People aren’t leaving home, they aren’t driving so they aren’t buying gas or spending money shopping. I think about all of the restaurants who are losing money because of spoiled food costs. Just because this is a difficult time for small businesses doesn’t mean we can’t use these business marketing strategies to turn this difficult time into a small business advantage.
Here are 3 small business marketing strategies to turn lemons into lemonade:
1. Shop locally. Get out into local stores as soon as you can. Start talking to other business owners to see what their needs are. More than likely, after a shut down like this, many store owners will be in their businesses assessing their damages (or celebrating that their kids are back on the bus). Start the conversation by asking how their holiday business was and see how bad the storm hit them. This may seem elementary, but if business owners are in their businesses and they are not having the traffic they would like, they may be more open than normal to an introduction.
2. Offer to help. This is the perfect time to reach out to others to see how you can help. Here at The Joy of Marketing, we teach a lot about co-marketing and how important it is to the growth and survival of small businesses. This is the ideal time to approach other small businesses to see what you can do to help them make up any losses they incurred this week. Part of the sales process is building rapport and trust. You can’t build rapport or trust by walking in to other businesses to see what they can do for you. If you can find ways to help them, the law of reciprocity says that you will be rewarded down the road.
3. Tie in charities. You can try to put together an event first quarter at one of your locations or better yet, in your entire neighborhood of businesses. If you can find a way to donate a percentage of sales (and for photographers, the session fee) the charity will be excited about promoting your event. By generating money for charity, your event will be newsworthy and could possibly generate free publicity. This builds goodwill and community support for all of the businesses involved.