BusinessFutureGovernment

Thank you for shopping local sign

This is based off of a Facebook post I made over the weekend:

Let’s go over some of the things that the federal government has promised to help small businesses and the arbitrary restrictions they have put on it, likely to prevent abuse, but in reality those arbitrary restrictions prevent businesses that actually really need the money from getting it. Please note, I am glad these efforts are here, but they are nowhere as much as is necessary to help small businesses.

First, the Canadian Wage Subsidy: Covers 75% of salaries for up to 3 months of business.

However, you need to have a 30% drop in revenues from your business. So companies like Perks, which are working night and day to keep their revenues up… well they get screwed. Worse, they actually end up worse off because they hired someone to provide the new service (delivery) so they are spending more on employees, and with the new delivery service they were able to keep their revenue drop from going as high as 30%.

delivery

So a business, that needs that subsidy the most, which is actually doing things to adapt to the economy, and could use it and is CREATING JOBS ends up worse off. While a business that has a 30% drop and isn’t doing anything at all to try and stem it, would be able to get 75% of their salaries paid for. So, if their salaries are 40% of their expenditures (which is a really low amount), it is 100% in their interest to ensure they keep that 30% drop in revenues. Do you not see how this causes more problems than it solves?

Second, the Business Credit Availability Program is basically a free cheque to the banks.

The banks get to decide who gets it, and they have tightened up, not loosened their lending standards. Especially since, in the words of a banker I spoke with recently, we are expecting most businesses applying for loans to fail, so we are going to end up rejecting the majority of them. Literally does nothing for the small businesses on Main St.

working

As well, it requires your NoAs and your tax returns to be completed and up to date and _no taxes owing_. Which completely counters the governments’ program of allowing businesses to not pay taxes for the next while to keep their cashflow up.

So, basically a cheque to the banks with absolutely no assistance to the businesses that need it most.

Third, the Canadian Emergency Business Account.

Unfortunately I cannot completely speak to this one that much. However, the restriction that payroll needs to be 50k-1mil actually kills it as a useful loan (assuming, of course, the banks don’t add more restrictions) for most small businesses. Many business owners pay themselves outside of payroll, and try to keep their payroll as minimized as possible. So while there may be 100k+ in revenues in any given year, it wouldn’t be hard for them to keep their payroll below 50k, especially if they hire subcontractors. Commonly these businesses are also the most agile, so yeah. Sucks to be them.

So, again… useless. This time for businesses that are best suited to try and weather this type of disaster.

All 3 programs, while they work for some, so many will slip through the cracks by the arbitrary restrictions that they really don’t do what they are supposed to do.

My advice:

  • Make the 75% for all businesses that are equal to last years, or have reduced revenues. A company could be equal to last March’s revenues, but had expanded employment to compensate. Punishing those companies is literally punishing the successful companies, it’s absolutely stupid.
  • Force the banks to remove restrictions on the small business lines of credit (under 100k) or at least to severely dial them back. Possibly by offering some form of loan insurance.
  • Open up the CEBA to all businesses that have above 100k revenue, regardless of payroll.
  • Open up tax credits for businesses that are implementing unique technological or other solutions to provide their services in this time. Such as Perks adding delivery to their system, or an art gallery finding a way to offer their art online, or a private school developing online learning tools. Similar to SRED, but more broad-based.

There are probably other ideas a well, but the current plan looks good on paper, but fails almost everyone who needs it and who would be the best businesses to succeed at this time.

CommunicationMarketingSEOSocial Media

Medical masks

Things sure happen quickly, don’t they? Right now in Alberta “mass gatherings” can’t have more than 50 people attending it, unless it’s for an essential service.  Lots of companies, especially tech companies like ours, are having their staff work remotely.  No one has any idea how long this will last either.  Two weeks?  Two months?  Longer?  With that in mind, it’s time to dive into the options you have for marketing when more and more things are cancelled and shut down.

Advertising

a billboard advertisement

Depending on the form of advertising you’ll see different results.  As people drive less and self-quarantine more physical and radio ads will have less impact since the most common place to listen to the radio is in the car and obviously someone who’s staying at home isn’t going to see your billboard.  But if a form of advertising is likely to be seen by those trapped at home, then it will definitely still be as effective as normal, or even more effective in some cases.  If you provide something that people are still likely to search for, Google Ads are a good idea.  So a restaurant that does delivery?  Definitely a good choice.  But there are other searches that are less likely to have great results.  I need some car repairs done.  But at least until I’m done quarantining myself I’m not going to bother Googling my options.  In short, if you provide something people need, putting your extra marketing budget into advertisements can be a smart choice.  Otherwise there’s probably a better option for where you can put that extra cash.

Social Media

What better time to build a social media following then a time when pretty much everyone is stuck at home?  especially when over 50% of people using social media to check the news.  Putting in the effort to boost your social media following now means that you’re likely to see results immediately.  Even better, as you increase your following you’ll see more increases both short term and long term as your social media presence snowballs.  And unlike advertising, you aren’t just putting yourself in front of someone who you hope wants to make a purchase right then and there.  So if you provide a service that people aren’t really looking for, but you’re engaging with potential customers on social media, they’re more likely to see you on social media when they *are* looking for your services later on.

Search Engine Optimization

Google logo

Search Engine Optimization is always important, but it’s also the only option on this list that doesn’t have short term effects (normally).  That means that for a lot of businesses it has to take an unfortunate back seat to the other forms of marketing.  You want a return on your dollar now and not in several months.  So a time when you suddenly have more money to play around with in your marketing budget is a great time to finally tackle your SEO.  And the lack of short term results isn’t as important when the short term benefits for marketing are down across the board as people self-quarantine more and more.  In other words, while the downsides to putting your money in SEO are still there, they aren’t as noticeable right now whereas the benefits are still as strong as ever.

Deals on Products

Sale

Finally, depending on what you provide now might be the time to offer some deals.  A great example would be some of the phone companies in the US.  I’ve heard of several that are either increasing the data they’re giving to all their customers for free or even in some cases temporarily giving customers unlimited data plans.  Now obviously, being larger companies they can afford things like this.  Don’t run yourself and your business into the ground trying to look like a hero but it’s still important to recognize the effect that offering help in times of crisis can have.  Obviously, there’s the fact that it will certainly be easier to sleep at night.  That doesn’t really impact your business though.  What does impact you is the goodwill you create among your customers.  If you provide a service they need or one they really want right now, they’re well aware that even if you raised your prices they’d still probably buy it.  So when you offer a deal instead, while the cynical types like me will recognize it for the smart strategic choice that it is, most people will look at how it’s a gesture of goodwill.

Online Trade Shows?

photo of trade show attendees

Alright, this isn’t something that exists, as far as I can tell, but it’s an idea that I had.  And since it’s just an idea I haven’t fully fleshed it out yet so bear with me.  With conventions and conferences being cancelled, many of them are turning to online formats.  So what if there could be an online version of a trade show?  Perhaps a Facebook group, though that seems too disorganized to me.  Maybe an online forum?  Or maybe a website with information on all the various companies taking part with some sort of online version of a trade show booth.  Like I said, this is more of something that I’m mulling over.  I might even go into more detail on it next week (I make no promises though), but it’s still something to consider.

 

That’s all for now.  Hopefully these five options (well, four options and an idea in the back of my mind) will help you decide on a marketing strategy that your business can pursue in these chaotic times.  If you’re not sure what option would be best for you, or if you’d like a hand implementing your strategy, get in touch with us.  We’d love to help you out so that we can all make it out of these difficult times safely.

CommunicationMarketing

tissues and mug

The coronavirus has been pretty big in the news.  If you’re like me you’re probably already groaning about reading yet another article about it.  But I realized that there is a very important thing that businesses need to consider, regarding this pandemic.  We all know that if there’s a quarantine businesses will obviously lose sales as people stay home and only purchase necessities.  But before we even reach that point, something else will be affected first.

Conventions

If you’re a local business, your marketing plan might be about to change.  Currently, conferences, trade shows, etc. all across the world are being cancelled.  In addition to working for Panda Rose, I also do some contracting in the healthcare informatics industry and a big tradeshow coming up in Florida was cancelled the day before it was scheduled to begin.  The NBA has canceled games.  Ironically there was even a conference on the coronavirus that was cancelled because of the coronavirus.  The coronavirus is now officially a pandemic and it’s gradually spreading across the world, along with the panic and toilet paper shortages.  As it spreads, local and international events are all being cancelled in an important effort to slow down the speed of infection so that our hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.

a shopping cart full of toilet paper

What does this mean for you?  If you or a conference your business was attending are in an affected area, it means you suddenly have more money available in your marketing budget.  If you aren’t in an affected area though, it doesn’t mean you won’t be affected.  It just means you’ve got a bit more time to plan for when that happens.  But in both cases, you need to know what your options are.

Your Options

This brings us to my main focus today.  Marketing is about putting yourself in front of your audience.  That’s why tradeshows can be so effective.  You are physically in front of them interacting with them.  But when people are being encouraged to practice social distancing and it becomes impossible to be physically in front of your audience, what can you do?  Not too long ago, your options were radio and television ads.  That was it.  And even then, if your audience didn’t want to stop self-quarantining they weren’t going to go in to your store anyway.  But the internet has created a much different world.  You can show up on people’s computers through their searches on search engines and on social media, both of which are much more personal than a tv spot.

Ultimately, your main options are

  • Ads in various formats like radio, tv, Google, and YouTube
  • Focusing on social media
  • Optimizing your Search Engine Optimization
  • Some combination of the above

Next week, I’m going to do a deep dive into the pros and cons and associated costs associated with all your options if the tradeshows and conventions you planned to attend get cancelled. I’ll also give you some tips that your marketing department can implement to improve your online presence that won’t cost a cent, but for now I want you just to start thinking about it.  I’m not telling you to cancel all public appearances and hide in your house for two months, but you should start thinking about contingency plans in case your marketing strategy needs to make a sudden u-turn.

PandaPodCast

man with a toilet paper stockpile at costco

In the past few weeks we’ve seen people stockpiling toilet paper and other items, which sometimes seems a little crazy. In this episode, Deborah and Leah talk about stockpiling, emergency preparedness, and other odd things people do (or don’t do) in a time of pandemic and emergency.