Some predicted it but not many were prepared for what a tiny organism can do to the world: The impact on health, the society and very much on economy.
As business owners we are experiencing all of that first hand.
If your business relies on people coming into your store or interacting with them, that's a problem.
People are reluctant to leave their homes. Even if you're lucky and still allowed to operate as usual, fewer people will come to you. And in many cases, social distancing measures make it impossible for businesses to deliver their in-person services.
So what can you do to help your business stay afloat in these times?
When times get tough, people tend to stick together. Especially in local communities: People care about their local barber, butcher, restaurant and other businesses.
Gift cards are a great way for them to show their support. Don't be afraid to reach out to them in times of struggles. Let people know that they can buy gift cards from you to show their support. After all, we all want to make sure our favorite neighbourhood business is still around after this crisis.
Purchasing a gift card to your favorite shop, theater or restaurant is an immediate way to put cash into the business, said Amanda Ballantyne, national director of The Main Street Alliance.
That's exactly what Luz Urrutia, CEO of the Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit microlender, has done. "I just bought gift cards to every one of the [local] restaurants that I love. They get their cash today. And I'll be able to use it later."
Research shows that when a customer redeems their gift card they are more likely to spend more money than the gift cards worth.
In the case of buying a gift card as a gift, 44 percent of respondents said they are likely to visit a store more often as a result of receiving a gift card, while 74 percent expected to spend more than the value of their gift card.
Encouraging gift card sales is a great investment you can make right now to increase your businesses revenue - right now and in the future.
If you you provide in-person services you are unlikely to keep operating as you usually would. Social distancing regulations forbid you to run your yoga studio, dance school or spa as usual.
The danger here for you is to become irrelevant in the eyes of your customers: Out of sight, out of mind. We are all creatures of habit. And once we loose our habits - in your case the habit of visiting your business - it will take a lot of effort for you to pull people back into it.
Avoid this situation by getting your regular clients and everyone else to buy gift cards from you. It will help them to keep your business in mind: Now (so they can tell their friends about it) and once you are able to open again: They will come to redeem their gift cards and visit you.
There are many great reasons for you to offer gift cards. But how do you encourage people to buy them?
Adding a link in your website makes sense. However there are many ways you can do that. Don't make it hard for your visitors to find your gift cards. Make it easy and obvious.
This store for example puts it as the first item in their navigation.
Another great example is how Bailemos Amsterdam puts a big visual on their home page:
If you want people to buy your gift cards, make it easy for them. And explain why they would want to your gift cards. Especially now.
Right now people are bored. They spend more time on social media than ever.
Use your social media presence to promote your products and services. But also your gift cards.
Tell them where they can buy your gift cards. Facebook makes it really easy to do that. Instagram allows you to put a link in your Bio. Make use of that! LinkTree is a great little tool to help you with that.
Email marketing is one of the most powerful channels when it comes to conversions. It has higher conversion rates than social media and search combined.
If you have an email list now is the right time to make use of it. Get the word our via email and tell people why right now is the right time to buy a gift card from you
Think of Facebook groups or WhatsApp groups. These can be especially powerful in small, local comunities. Take some time to check what groups exists for people in your community. Maybe you even know influential people in your community that could help spread the word via their own channels.
Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Especially in times like these, people want to help out and make sure their favourite local business is still around after the crisis.
Some people might still be wandering around in the neighbourhood and come across your store/business. Get a sign on your door and tell them you will be looking forward to seeing them again. Use this opportunity to suggest they buy a gift card from you. Don't forget to add the URL to your website or place to buy your gift card.
If you don't have a system in place to sell gift cards you can get started for free right now.
SupportYourLocals is a free and easy way for any business to offer digital gift cards to their customers.
It's our mission to offer anyone the possibility to sell gift cards. No complicated system or hidden fees.Create your account and give it a try.