Across the country, stay-at-home orders have been combined with sweeping mandates for the temporary closure of all “non-essential” businesses, such sports stadiums, restaurants, bars and barber shops. Unfortunately, despite these trying times, earning revenue and being paid a wage is still very much an essential part of everyday life.
As such, hitting pause on normal market operations is forcing countless small businesses to adapt to these new restrictions by relying on one very important tool: digital marketing.
Take Vendome Wine & Spirits in Toluca Lake, for example. As a local liquor store that typically caters more to wine and craft beer connoisseurs, Vendome took a major hit when the store was no longer able to host daily wine and beer tasting events for its customers. Rather than admitting an early defeat, however, the liquor store made a brilliant pivot in the form of “virtual tasting events.”
In practice, this means that when a customer purchases a specific wine or craft beer, they also receive the details of a planned Zoom meeting where the customer can exchange tasting notes with fellow budding alcohol aficionados. The move has been a hit with Vendome’s clientele.
“Our virtual wine-tastings are going exceptionally well,” says Vendome’s wine buyer, David Milligan. “We’ve been averaging between 15 to 30 people a night.” Milligan has even hinted at continuing the virtual tasting events after operations are allowed to return to pre-COVID levels.
“Give the people what they want, that’s what I say.”
Another store making the most of digital marketing tools to weather COVID-19 restrictions is Collector’s Paradise, a local comic book store with outlets in North Hollywood, Winnetka and Pasadena. According to the owner of the chain, Edward Greenberg, customer visits have in the past formed the backbone of the business.
“Many of our customers subscribe to comics through our stores and pick them up weekly or monthly,” he says. “We are a business of a lot of small transactions, which means we rely on weekly customer visits throughout the week. Now that’s gone.”
In order to ride out stay-at-home and business shutdown measures, then, Collector’s Paradise is making the most out of email and social media marketing. The brand now uses email and social media to let customers know that their “pull lists” will be mailed out to them, and has begun to provide “personal shopping” services to those no longer able to peruse the shelves.
Moreover, Collector’s Paradise created an entirely new product: a curated collection of DC, Marvel or “Indie” graphic novels that customers can subscribe to under one-, three- and six-month deals. The new package, called “CURATED,” has been a huge hit with the comic book store’s clientele.
“CURATED was a giant winner for us,” Greenberg says, “It will definitely be a long-term product way past this crisis.”
While there can be little doubt that COVID-19 restrictions are hitting small businesses hard all over the country, stories of success also abound. Businesses determined to pivot and adapt to the current crisis are making the best of digital marketing tools to not only ride out the pandemic, but possibly even improve their business models in the long-run.