We all know that the global pandemic hit small businesses across the world very hard, and as a small agency of 16 amazing people, we were faced with critical decisions on how to pivot our business quickly as this major crises, from forced business closures, had the potential to result in a significant loss of revenue almost overnight. We were devastated to see so many businesses struggling including many of our clients who we had worked closely with them on building their business.
Working with several, small business types, including local children’s activity centers who relied on student enrollments, and brick and mortar stores and restaurants whose lifeblood was dependent on customers coming into their store or restaurant/bar. Having to close or significantly reduce operations quickly resulted in a drop in sales and for many the prospect of going out of business was very real and would also spell disaster for small agencies like ours. Deciding to tackle this problem head-on, we looked at how we could help these businesses continue to trade in seemingly impossible circumstances. We knew that if we could pivot our business quickly enough by assisting other companies to pivot just as fast, we would all be able to see a future that included us all surviving.
Our first strategy was for those small businesses that relied on enrolled kids to come into their business but now couldn’t due to them having to close their doors. We worked with these clients to create virtual versions of their programs, including dry land swimming programs of all things. Additionally, we could partner up with some industry suppliers who had pre-made video lesson content and who were happy to share it with these businesses. Within less than a week, they started offering virtual programs to their students for nominal fees. Through this period, we, as an agency, lost very few clients, and while we provided breaks to a considerable amount, over 70% have been able to keep their business open.
Almost concurrent with the first strategy, we looked at our other business owners, those who had retail products and restaurants, whose sales were traditionally stronger in-store, and how we could increase online sales direct to potential customers who were now more housebound. One client, a tea company out of California, who had to close the doors to their shop, had an online store generating an average monthly revenue of $5,000. The key was repositioning to a full digital marketing strategy and transitioning to an entirely online store. The first month saw their online store hit $20,000, and they have continued to grow each month, and last month they posted record sales of over $250,000. During this time, their store was temporarily converted into a warehouse to cater to the rapid sales increase. With the store open again, they have a separate warehouse and are continuing to target record annual sales by the end of Q4.
These are a few of the stories we have encountered as we worked on pivoting as a small business and keeping our lights on. By looking outwardly to solving our clients’ needs and changing our business offerings to match those needs, we were able to strengthen relationships from a “we’re all in this together” perspective. As an inspiring outcome for many businesses, we see these have not been band-aid solutions but rather building blocks that change the way our small business clients approach traditional marketing. For many, this new approach, heavily focused on digital marketing, gives them the power to reach people in their communities with more precision and speed than ever before.
As an agency, this empathetic approach to our survival being reliant on working closely with our business clients on discovering solutions has enabled us to continue growing as we help more businesses each month reaching out to us to do the same.