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    Guest Post: How has the pandemic affected small business promotion?

    Thank you to Rob Godfrey for this guest post! 

    The normal course of business has traditionally been every man/woman for themselves. The pandemic changed that dramatically for small businesses across the state. Business owners were faced with issues they never could have planned for. Clothes couldn’t be styled, hair couldn’t be cut, shared cheese boards were a faux pas, and group exercise or happy hour after work seemed to be a thing of the past.

    Naturally small businesses had always focused on promoting themselves, because if not, then who would? And in the midst of a “shut down” of life as we all knew it… we all surprised ourselves and adapted. Mindsets shifted and what was viewed by a business as competitive turned into complimentary. Existing business not only grew, but more businesses also opened. People who were confined to their home looked for creative ways to enter the market as a small business owner. Charcuterie boards are now a business!

    “Last year brought about a change in the way we actually do business. Over the holidays and continuing into the new year, supply chain issues have caused delays and shortages of products. With an unprecedented global pandemic, people do not want to drive around from place to place in search of something they need. So, small businesses in the Midlands have turned to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to keep the community up to date on what is available locally. These businesses, with the help of new social media tools, gave real-time updates on products.” —Carl Blackstone

    Shops began collaborating and teaming up with other businesses to play on the strength of what they could offer. Social media changed the way small businesses do business. Businesses found that they didn’t have to sell their products locally, their customer could be anywhere. They could promote a competitor. The number of followers on the group page and business page grew tremendously.

    Examples include:

    • Devine Street Columbia which highlights every business on the street individually or during special sidewalk sales that all participate in. Fig could speak to some of the business owners about how their business has grown and the use of social media.
    • My Kim Collection – now has almost 13K followers
    • Pink Sorbet – has more than 11K followers
    • LaRoque – has more than 28K followers
    • Gourmet Shop Five Points participating in a giveaway with Jakes on Devine, Publico, and Pawleys Front Porch

    This change in mindset created organic growth and businesses realized that highlighting another business did not take away from their opportunities – it grew them!