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Small businesses are the backbone of our community—providing jobs and income for nearly half of all Americans. As a small business ourselves, Rivers Agency is passionate about helping our fellow entrepreneurs survive despite being closed to customers during COVID-19. Here are the top six tips we’re giving our clients to maintain a revenue stream and adapt to new ways of doing business.



1. Get a Shopping Cart ASAP

With storefronts shuttered to foot traffic, now is the time to sell your products online. Adding online shopping capabilities is easy with Shopify, a software shopping cart solution to sell, ship and manage your products. In less than two hours, you can build a fully functional online store—just follow these step-by-step instructions.

With your Shopify site up and running, your business can sell to-go food orders or any of the products you have in stock. If relevant to what you sell, offer customers the opportunity to become a sustainer and set up an automatic recurring monthly order. Many customers are looking for ways to support their favorite small businesses, so promote gift card purchases that can be used at a later date. Mystery boxes are also very popular right now with customers for themselves or as gifts—just bundle up items around shared themes or interests.

2. Capture Every Warm Lead

When users visit your website, it’s because they’re interested in your products or services; however, they may not be ready to make a purchase just yet. Stay on their radar with a digital retargeting campaign.

The first step is to create an audience using pixels. Pixels are snippets of code that can be inserted into the footer code of your website or through Google Tag Manager to identify every browser that visits your site. You’ll want to pull pixels from Facebook/Instagram, Twitter and Google to add to your website.

Once you’re ready to run a campaign, you can serve ads directly to previous site visitors on their social media pages or through Google Display Network, which spans a wide variety of popular sites, like CNN, ESPN, etc. The advantage of using pixels is that you’re targeting by interest, not demographics, the ads are more relevant to the audience, you can track the ads’ performance and optimize the campaign to enhance its efficacy.

For step-by-step directions on pulling pixels and adding them to your site, check out these tutorials for Facebook/Instagram, Twitter and Google.

3. Use the Space Around Your Business

Customers may not be allowed in your store at the moment, but the space around your business is prime real estate for conducting commerce. Employees wearing the appropriate safety gear can offer curbside pickup on anything from books to wine to clothing to food.

Draw attention to your business and its new modus operandi by painting the sidewalk or parking lot. Signage is also critical for letting customers know that you’re open and the services you’re providing. Hang large banners outside, put up posters in windows, place A-frames signs on the sidewalk, or post yard signs around town. Include messaging about new hours and deals and direct people to your website.

4. Amp Up Your Customer Communications

Your customers need to be in the loop about how you’re operating today. Leverage newsletters or e-blasts to update customers about new products, special deals, operating hours, etc. Social media is another place to stay top-of-mind with customers. Post weekly about what’s happening with your business, even if it’s just to thank your hardworking employees.

5. Pitch to Local Media

News outlets are pulling together roundups of local businesses that are still open, and you should make sure your business appears on these lists. Reach out to reporters at your local television and radio stations, newspapers, and local magazines or newsletters, and let them know what your business is offering.

6. Lean On Each Other

Look for businesses that you could partner with—whether to offer complementary services or to pool marketing efforts. Restaurants and farmers came together to create Carrboro United, a food hub partnership offering weekly to-go meals and a much-needed boost to the local restaurant scene. Having a robust partnership increases the reach of your messages and promotions, while also exposing your brand to new audiences.

For more resources, be sure to visit the website of your local Chamber of Commerce or the Small Business Administration.

Rivers Agency is the premier marketing firm for Raleigh, NC, Chapel Hill, NC, Durham, NC and Carrboro, NC.

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