With the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression, 2020 has been a difficult year for businesses in San Diego and elsewhere. While some have managed to stay afloat with the help of federal aid programs, revenue limitations disqualified many others, leaving them to find alternative revenue streams to maintain business operations while creating ways to retool and adapt to the new normal.
If your initial reaction when cash gets tight is to freeze your marketing efforts, think again! There are plenty of free options in digital marketing that can help you stay connected to your audience. An organic, or unpaid, presence for your business on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media channels can help drive traffic to your website, elevate your search engine optimization game, and tell your brand story without breaking the bank.
Resourceful business owners are not only learning about and implementing critical digital marketing tools and best-practices, but taking advantage of new initiatives and assistance programs offered by the federal government, local cities and even corporations like Facebook. San Diego County has created a number of policies and programs to attempt to help small businesses, but aid and relief have not been widely accessible to all or easily understandable. In fact, almost 25% of small businesses hit hard by the pandemic expect to be out of business within six months if the economic state of the country doesn’t change. Fortunately, over the last week, the San Diego City Council has made two swift moves to assist struggling businesses both financially and operationally.
Conducting Business Operations Outdoors
The San Diego City Council has passed a pair of measures that extend the ability of local businesses to operate outdoors, which will help them continue serving customers in a safe environment amid the pandemic. The first measure waives the permitting requirements that allow retail stores and restaurants to conduct business in private parking lots, sidewalks and on-street parking areas. It has been extended from 45 days to 10 months and 15 days. The second measure grants similar outdoor options to businesses like gyms, nail and hair salons, and barbershops.
If you’re operating your business outdoors, in a pop-up shop or another temporary location, be sure to let your customers know on social media. Social channels are the perfect open communication tool to keep your customers aware of changes, including updated hours of operation and any safety precautions you are taking for their comfort. Plus, everyone loves a trendy Instagram pic of a colorful sidewalk sign with a palm tree backdrop!
Allocating CARES Act Funds to Underserved Communities
The San Diego City Council has also voted to direct $700,000 from the San Diego Small Business Relief Fund to help businesses in historically underserved communities during COVID-19. The money from the previously established Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will award grants from $1,000-$5,000 along with specialized outreach and technical assistance for business owners. The San Diego Small Business Relief Fund, which was approved in March, allocated grants on a first-come, first-serve basis to business applicants in need of relief- but few businesses in historically marginalized communities received this relief.
When you’re operating on a shoestring budget, a little hard work on your digital marketing strategy goes a long way. Aside from utilizing prominent social media channels, feed your digital marketing machine with frequent blogging- and be sure to keep your Google My Business profile up to date!
46% of businesses have reported losing essential customers over the last several months.
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