Greg Smith

Greg Smith

There is not a single person who has not been affected in some way by the fact many businesses have been forced to temporarily close. However, don’t assume you should not continue to market your business, especially as the economy begins to open. Here are some tips to consider:

• Stay connected with your customers. If you do not have a website or social media presence, create one now. Offer a sign-up portal and send emails about products available, changes you anticipate making to your business once the economy opens and let them know you care about them and their families.

• Offer ways people can continue to purchase your products or services online, including gift certificates. Social media ads to boost awareness are effective and affordable.

• Fortunately, not all customers have lost their jobs and want to support their favorite hometown businesses. Consider having some T-shirts or hats designed and offer them online. You may be surprised how quickly they sell and are a great way to advertise.

• Come up with a fun contest or way to interact with your customers. This might include a photo contest in which people upload candid shots to your Facebook page of their pets or children. One business encouraged clients to share their favorite recipes online. Perhaps a prize might include a gift card or discount to be used when your business reopens.

• This is a great opportunity to find ways to help support your community. There are many avenues available to assist others, and if you are not in a financial position to do so, initiate a food drive or encourage people to donate blood. There are many needs.

• Spiff up your store. Take this opportunity to consider painting, rearranging and updating displays and planting flowers. Wash windows and even the outside of your building. This will provide an inviting, fresh look for your customers when they return.

• Consider joining other businesses in sharing the cost of buying radio or newspaper ads.

Marketing really is about developing long-term relationships. Offering products and services customers want to buy, providing outstanding service and being personable are all part of an effective marketing plan. Top of the mind awareness has never been more important, so being resourceful and creative will help you be resilient and among those standing after this crisis is over.

Finally, it is imperative to learn from this instantaneous and dramatic economic downturn. Be determined to get a handle on your finances, better manage your cash flow, update or create your business plan and, most importantly, create a rainy-day fund as anything can happen at any time.

Greg Smith is the director of the Eastern Oregon University Small Business Development Center. For free, confidential business advising, call 541-962-1532 or email

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