Wednesday, April 15, 2020

10 Ways to Help Your Favourite Businesses

10 Ways to Help Your Favourite Businesses

We're living in interesting times and there's no sign of when things will get back to normal... It's easy to feel helpless and at a loss for what you can do, how you can help or what contributions, if any will make an impact. I've been thinking about this a lot lately and I've come up with some ideas for how we can all take action to help some of our favourite businesses survive. Before you think that you can't help because of your current finances, I urge you to read on. You might be able to help more than you think without spending a dime... I remember my granny always talking about things she used to be able to get before the war. The obvious conclusion is that those stores closed, those brands didn't survive or that new options were invented to meet the needs of the time. You don't want to be saying to yourself "I loved that thing I could get before the pandemic" so here are a few ways you can take action and maybe help some of your faves survive. If nothing else, it might help to feel like you're doing something and taking action at a time when we've been told to sit home and do nothing, which can make us all feel helpless.

1. Order Something
Even though it might not seem essential to you right now, every sale counts at the moment to provide essentials to business owners, their families and their employees. Whether it's investing in an item of clothing or an accessory from your favourite brand, splurging on a delivery of fancy steaks from your local butcher, picking up your eggs from your local cafe instead of your morning coffee or treating yourself to something, your order makes a difference now more than ever. It could save someone's job and every penny counts at the moment, so if you feel like you want to help, just order something no matter how small it is. The bonus is that you then get to enjoy it.

2. Shop Local
If you live in an area where you have a choice of where you do your shopping for essentials, choose wisely. That farmer's market you love, the local green grocer, the independent butcher, the family-owned pharmacy or your favourite mini-mart might not survive this crisis as easily as a larger chain. And I totally get it that independents are often more expensive than big chain stores, but if you're struggling to find what you want or you can spend a little more than usual (because let's face it, you're not spending it on your social life right now), then try spending your money with the little guys for a while. It's not very interesting when your whole town is made up of fast food chains, mega supermarkets and cookie cutter corporate businesses.

3. Gift Cards
Buying gift cards is a great way to help businesses sustain and many that I've looked into lately have indefinite usage dates or at least extended ones, so the ones you buy now will last a lot longer than usual. Stock up on gift cards to either use yourself at a later time or to gift to friends and family for birthdays, Christmas or whatever. Everyone loves a good gift card!

4. Start Your Christmas & Birthday Shopping Early
We can't go into the shops, but many retailers are still operating online, so why not take advantage of the extra time and get busy with your gift shopping for the year? It's inevitable that sales are probably down across the retail sector because no one needs a new outfit to stay at home and the future is uncertain for many. You might not feel like buying a new outfit or treats right now, but you know you're going to need gifts for everyone at some point, so if you can afford it, start now and help your favourite brands stay afloat through this difficult period.

5. Get Social (FREE)
Social media is vital to most brands at this point and they rely on likes, comments, mentions, shares and follows to combat algorithms and be seen. If you can't afford to shop right now, that's totally understandable. That said, if you're online and there are brands, businesses, bloggers, magazines, artists or pretty much anyone who works or runs a business, show them some love right now. Hit that like button, follow your faves, share things you like with your own communities and leave lovely comments. You'll be helping them more than you might realise and it won't cost you a dime.

6. Word of Mouth (FREE)
It seems we're all online and talking on the phone or various apps like FaceTime more than ever since we're all locked in at home. Word of mouth is super powerful. Just because you might not be able to afford your favourite face cream right now or you don't need a new one doesn't mean you can't tell your friends about the one you're obsessed with. If you love something, tell everyone. If you hear about your favourite activities being offered in an online version, text it to your friends.  Your advertisement is the best one a business can get and one that money can't buy.

7. Shout Outs (FREE)
Did you order a takeaway or something else online that was really great? Did you take a class that kept you entertained and gave you what you were after? Share it on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Post a photo and don't forget to tag and mention where possible. If you enjoyed something, got a new outfit that looks amazing or finally found the perfect ice trays, shout it out and share the love!

8. Make a Donation
Some companies have taken to starting a crowdfunding page to stay afloat. Check to see if any of your favourites are accepting a donation during this difficult time, especially if it's a nonprofit organisation.

9. Pay Now - Use Later
Book a reservation or buy a ticket for a future date. Some fitness studios offer class credit passes that you can buy now and use later. A gift card also works in this way. Most recently I've seen some pubs offering advanced sales of drinks where you can buy it now and redeem it when the bar is open again.

10. Donate Your Services (FREE - kinda)
Do you have a special skill and some extra time on your hands? If so, try donating your services to your favourite businesses. This would be especially helpful I think for really small local businesses that might be struggling. Lawyers, social media professionals, web designers, copywriters, accountants... I'm sure there are lots of you who could spare an hour or two for a bit of pro-bono for your neighbourhood faves and it might make all the difference to their survival during these uncertain times.

If you have any additional ideas for how we can all help our favourite businesses stay afloat, feel free to leave them in a comment below or come leave a comment on Instagram!

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