It has been a month since the Ontario Provincial Government announced the province-wide lockdown and it’s time to get creative! We hope these lockdowns won’t last as long as last March, but many retail, service, and other businesses are now in a position to make it to the other side of this pandemic with some new tips and tricks.

The ACED team has come up with a list of ways for your businesses to safely operate and reach your customers while your doors are closed to the public. 

Learning to adapt how your business functions during COVID-19 is essential. Let’s get those creative juices flowing to help keep Almaguin open for business! 

Curbside Pickup and Delivery

Businesses can offer contactless curbside pickup and delivery as a way to sell products to customers. Consider posting pictures, prices, and descriptions of your products online. Local delivery or curbside pickup at your business location can also be offered. Using your website or social media platforms can be a great way to promote your business. Additionally, you can run ads to reach potential customers who may not be following your page.  

To further support businesses we have created the “Open for Business” webpage. This will help make sure that your clients and customers know when you’re open and how they can access your products and services. ACED has created a brief survey on Survey Monkey to capture changes in your regular hours/routine which can be found HERE. Once we receive survey results we will update the page as soon as possible with your listing.

If you’re looking for online marketing support you can reach out to our Digital Service Squad member Ciara Stead. She can help you learn how to create, update and market your online platforms at no-cost to Almaguin businesses. Reach out by emailing: marketing@investalmaguin.ca for support. 

Run a Contest, Raffle, or Promotion

Advertise a prize such as one of your business’s services or a gift card for a set amount, make sure to choose an item your customers would be excited for! Maybe sell “tickets” for a set fee (an example could be $5 per ticket, keep the price low so people are more likely to purchase), and draw a single winner for the prize (an example could be a gift card for $100 or more). A raffle is a great way to get some extra income into your business but does not always have confirmed results and potentially could be a gamble. Regardless it’s another option for your business to explore! Promotions are another way to go. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Family Day following it and St. Patrick’s day just around the corner, many people will be exploring great purchasing ideas while staying at home. 

A contest through Instagram or Facebook is a great way to get your business page out to new audiences or get past customers re-involved. A “like and share” contest is a great example, you choose a prize and advertise it in a post, include a statement on how to win the prize by “liking” your Facebook page and sharing the post. It will in turn allow customers’ social media friends to see that post and potentially enter the contest too. Please note this is not a template just a suggestion to get you thinking! 

There are opportunities to get your business ideas shared online, if you would like your online promotion shared through our Facebook page Shop in Almaguin please share a link with the details to marketing@investalmaguin.ca or tag the page in your post!

Get an Online Store

Moving your store and products to an online platform has many benefits and offers a way to continue business whether your doors are open to the public or not. 

Selling online not only allows your regular customers access to shop through lockdowns but additionally allows businesses to reach more potential customers across Ontario and Canada at any time, night or day! You have more freedom to sell niche products and services.

There are endless platforms online to sell your products on, each with their own pros and cons, so be sure to research which online market works best for your business before you sign-up! You can use options like Etsy, Shopify, Squarespace, Amazon, and more! 

There are programs out there to support businesses in creating an online store, Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE program works directly with small businesses and artists to build a Shopify store at no cost! Spots are limited in this program, to participate please APPLY HERE before mid-February.

Connecting with Customers

Use this time to connect with your customers. A friendly check-in call or email blast or reaching out to previous clients to request reviews is a great way way to keep engaging with your audience.

There are services you can take advantage of such as Mailchimp, (an email marketing platform) that you can use to create and schedule email campaigns either to promote products, sales or check-in.

If you run a service-based business consider getting started with a video conference tool such as Zoom to still offer your services face-face digitally.

Along with the suggestions above we recommend using this time to leverage your online or creative marketing scope, reach out and check-in with your customers, update your online presence, or complete that “to do” list for your business that you never had time for in your busy schedule.

Please reach out to our ACED team if you require support, we’ll get you connected!