(BPT) - Over the past year, small businesses have had to adapt, often learning that their bonds with their surrounding communities are crucial to their survival. As your business continues to weather today's challenges, here are tips to help your business stay strong while you stay connected to your customers — and your neighbors.
Know your customers
Ask your customers, employees and community members for their opinions on your products and services and discover what they want. Free and low-cost tools like SurveyMonkey can help you create a professional-looking online survey. A low-cost customer relationship management (CRM) tool can also help you stay connected to your customers.
Leverage digital marketing
Did you know 81% of Americans use YouTube1, 69% use Facebook and 40% use Instagram? In addition, 60% of consumers say they will continue shopping online, with 26% saying they will shop online even more in the future.2
Meet customers where they are by posting and advertising on these powerful digital platforms. Create email campaigns to contact customers. If you don’t have a website, make one. Inexpensive tools like Wix or GoDaddy can help you build a basic site quickly.
Support your community
Stay engaged with your community by sponsoring youth teams or holding food drives at your location. Be visible and be a good neighbor.
Find funding to fuel growth
Money is available for small businesses, if you know where to look. Grants, loans and awards can help your business grow. Start with the Small Business Administration and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You can also try a simple online search for “small business grants.”
Many corporations offer awards programs. For example, since 2016 the Synchrony Pillars Project has honored small business leaders who support their communities. In 2020, the program recognized 20 winners for supporting their communities in innovative, powerful ways. Each of the winners received a $10,000 prize. Here are a few highlights from a sampling of the winners:
Learn more about the Pillars awards and last year's winners at Synchrony.com/smallbusiness.
With an approach fostering stronger relationships within the community, small businesses can continue to survive — and even thrive — during difficult times, whatever the future holds.
1 PEW Research Center, April 2021 (https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2021/04/07/social-media-use-in-2021/).
2 Synchrony Consumer Sentiment Monthly Tracking Survey N=1000 U.S. Consumers - Feb 2021.
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