How Neighborhood Solidarity with SMEs can enhance your fourth quarter earnings

Originally written by Partner Content on Small Business

COVID-19 has hit every economy around the world and virtually every industry and sector, but small businesses are particularly hard hit.

Nearly a quarter of small businesses in the UK had to close in April 2020, and those that reopened said revenue had fallen by an average of 80 percent. A total of 234,000 UK SMEs permanently closed their businesses between March and September 2020.

While the outlook is pretty bleak, when that cloud shows a silver lining, people’s eyes, hearts and purses have opened to the importance of local SMEs. With the right strategies, today’s entrepreneurs can weather the wave of that sentiment and hopefully close out the fiscal year from a place of strength that can take off by 2021.

We all fell in love with local ones

The novel coronavirus and loss of personal sociability have resulted in consumers no longer falling in love with global service companies and products that are mass-produced in China. Instead, they recognize the benefits of local businesses. Activists around the world have set up organizations to support local businesses, such as Goodmoney in Brighton & Hove in the UK; Supported Local BC in British Columbia, Canada; and SOS New Zealand in New Zealand.

In turn, SMB owners have recognized that they must be part of a thriving local business ecosystem to be successful.

SMEs are realizing that sometimes the best way to improve their own business is to help others survive, for example by entering into a mutual agreement with nearby businesses or using local suppliers in place of large companies.

Heading into the winter shopping season, owners of SMBs in difficulty need to find the best ways to forge these alliances and engage in visible community advancement activities.

Optimize your bulk offers for gift giving

The winter holiday season is the prime time for gifts, and all of the owners and employees of your local, friendly SMB make decisions about what to give to their friends and loved ones. Additionally, it is the time of year when business people purchase gifts for their most valuable customers, business partners, and key suppliers as employee rewards and Christmas presents.

Why not suggest that they use your service or product for their gifts this year? Make it easy for them by creating discount service packages with the help of vcita packages. For example, you could offer six manicures for the price of five; a free hot stone treatment for each relaxing massage; or a mix-and-match offer of eight fitness classes of the buyer’s choice for a 10 percent discount.

With the workflows supported by the vcita platform, you can personalize the entire purchasing process and make it smooth, so that your Christmas gift offers become even more attractive. And you can set the terms for how long buyers must redeem their bundled purchases.

Digital gift cards are another way to encourage other SMB owners to search for gifts in your business. They help corporate gift givers bypass the minefield of choosing the wrong style, size, or color while giving a gift warmer than cash. Digital gift cards look thoughtful but not intrusive, so that the recipient can choose their favorite items.

Multi-business e-gift cards are also quick ways to get your personal business started online. So, if you don’t have an online store and are nervous about the technology it will take to switch to online transactions, you can still set up gift card sales. Find out if your city or county has a gift card program to participate in, for example in Leicester, Southport and East Ayrshire, to name a few.

Remind your business contacts that digital gifts are the best gifts this year. You can give them even if you can’t meet the recipients in person and don’t have to worry that the overburdened postal or logistics services might fail to deliver them.

Track existing relationships

Sometimes SMEs that are particularly hard hit by COVID-19 already have a link with other SMEs. If you’re on the heavier side of the relationship, don’t be afraid to speak to your business owner’s colleagues about your troubles.

For example, your gym may have good relationships with the sports equipment manufacturer around the corner. The gym equipment business is booming, but your gym is snapping up revenue. You can suggest that the other company give out your fitness packages to their employees as gifts, or put you in touch with some personal trainers who need a private indoor space for their one-to-one lessons and can use your studio until classes can return.

You may not even realize how much you struggle until you ask. The same goes for your more loyal, longer term customers who like to gather together to pre-purchase some of your services for 2021 and keep the cash flowing for you a little longer.

Provide signal amplification

Don’t forget to ask your allies, partners, and neighbors to help you without spending a penny of your own by giving a signal boost on social media or business review platforms.

Again, you’ll get better results if you make it easy for them. Try sending them some media pictures to use in a post about their good connections with the business around the corner. Alternatively, you can leave a positive review on Yelp or Google My Business.

You can also refer them to your recent Instagram or Facebook posts which require a little more attention and engagement. Ask them to share or comment on it.

Two heads are better than one

These difficult times are taking their toll on everyone. Your mental, emotional, and physical health can be affected by the fear that your business will shut down, the fear of the possible consequences, or the stress of staying afloat.

It’s a good time to reach out to other SMB owners to share your concerns and brainstorming tactics for overcoming the storm. Maybe someone else has a good idea to help keep your business steady.

At the very least, pouring out your ailments on an open ear will help reduce the stress and can bring you new strength to keep constipating.

Ride the wave of local solidarity

Take advantage of the trend of supporting local businesses when the Christmas gift season approaches. Make it easy for other SMBs to give away your services or products, give them opportunities to promote you on social media, and reach out to other small business owners for practical, financial, or moral support.

Your business is stronger when you are part of a wider ecosystem.

further reading

A Guide to Social Media Strategy for Small Business Owners

How Community Solidarity with SMEs can boost your fourth quarter earnings

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