We know that, as members of the communities you serve, businesses like yours may be experiencing unexpected challenges due to COVID-19, widely known as coronavirus or novel coronavirus. And we're committed to providing as much support for your small business as possible.
Our priority here at PostcardMania is to keep everyone safe and informed about the recent outbreak of COVID-19 — all from a perspective that is unique to small businesses.
Read on and bookmark this page to stay up to date on developments that are unique to you.
PostcardMania was founded in 1998, and most of our clients were in the mortgage and real estate industry. Their business basically sustained my business for 10 years.
Now, this story starts really in 2008, when the bottom fell out of (first) the real estate market and (then) our entire economy.
At that point, the real estate and mortgage industries made up 46% of my entire clientele.
We lost thousands of clients almost instantly, and our revenue dropped significantly. For the first time in the history of my company, we weren't growing and expanding from week to week, quarter to quarter — we were contracting, and fast.
It wasn't even that bad for us until 2009. That's when our own crisis hit, almost a year after the housing crisis and market collapse. In 2008, we were only down about $150,000.
But 2009 — that was another story. Some weeks, I wasn't even sure we could make payroll.
Operations quickly became unsustainable, and I knew we would have to make cuts somewhere.
I was dead set against laying anyone off. That was not an option for me.
If I wasn't going to cut staff, advisors told me that the next best option would be to cut our postcard marketing budget. They looked at the price of our postcard marketing per week and said, "Wow! You could save a LOT of money by cutting that way back."
Against my better judgement, I listened and cut our marketing back.
As a result, new incoming leads and revenue suffered more than any of us could have anticipated.
Not only was 2008 our worst year yet — 2009 was even worse – we were down 15%. And 15% of $30 million is a hefty chunky of change. Cutting our marketing budget compounded our issues even further. Because we had fewer leads coming in overall, our revenue couldn't rebound.
Meeting payroll became my only objective. My business was surviving on week-to-week basis (the equivalent of paycheck-to-paycheck), and only just barely. My finances were a mess. My hair went from black to entirely — and I'm talking entirely — white within one year. It was hell. I just have to say — thank gawd for hair dye!
Plus, I didn't pay myself much during that time... I cut my own pay by 75% and took a stipend so I wouldn't feel like it was all for nothing. I'm lucky I have a husband with a business and the crash actually helped his business!
So, after months of closely tracking and analyzing our numbers, I realized that in order to get revenue back on track, we needed to get leads back on track — and that meant sending more postcards.
I increased our marketing budget back to its pre-crash total, and our numbers quickly recovered. We made up lost ground and then some.
It all comes down to something that I instinctively knew to be true about marketing my business that my financial advisors couldn't see or understand... and that I should have done a better job of defending.
It essentially comes down to the return on investment we get from our marketing, and the lifetime value of a single client.
You see, we get a very low response rate on our postcard mailings. And direct mail isn't cheap.
So, to an advisor, this looked like a huge loss and an easy place to cut expenses.
Out of the roughl y 180,000 postcards we mail each week, we get about 200 direct responses per week. (A direct response would be someone calling the tracking number on their postcard or visiting the URL on that postcard versus googling us and finding our webpage.)
That's a response rate of 0.001%.
Of course, we also receive additional leads who either don't mention that they heard about us from a postcard, or say they heard about us some other way, when in fact we find out later they've been receiving our postcards for some time.
Response rate is completely useless when it comes to marketing (at least for my business).
The only statistic I care about when measuring response is the return on investment (ROI) I get from my marketing.
ROI is calculated as:
Here's a real example of PostcardMania's marketing ROI. I'll use a year from a while back so you can see how the return continues to grow as the years go by.
In 2013, we spent $2,875,230 on marketing.
That same year, we brought in $4,562,121 from new leads generated from those marketing dollars.
That is a 59% ROI on our marketing spend.
Then, the next year (2014), we brought in an additional $1,520,682 from those leads that came in in 2013.
This grew the ROI for our 2013 expense to 111% — meaning we made all of our money back PLUS an additional 11% of the amount we spent.
Then, in 2015, we brought in an additional $1,389,865 from those leads that came in in 2013, Growing our ROI for our 2013 spend to 159%.
We continued to make money from those leads through future years. By the end of 2019 we had made a total of $13,130,068 from those leads generated in 2013 from our $2,875,230 investment. This is a 357% ROI on our marketing spend, and it will continue to grow from here.
If we hadn't spent that $2.8M on marketing, we would have made $13M less over the last 6 years!
This is something that my 2008 financial advisors couldn't foresee — and, to be honest, many business owners today would struggle with.
For my fellow business owners, this usually comes down to a lack of tracking.
If you don't know where your leads are coming from, how can you know the value of your marketing? Or the return on your investment?
For those companies that do closely track their marketing, one thing becomes clear...
Marketing is a vital part of your business's overall health and wellbeing, and cutbacks (however essential they might seem at the time) run the risk of exposing your business to extended revenue reductions. I certainly learned this lesson the hard way.
In my business, I know one thing for sure:
I will never, ever cut my marketing budget again.
The effects of coronavirus on American small businesses is undeniable. More people are staying home (either by choice or by mandate) and they aren't spending money — a scary recipe for small business owners. Here, you'll find financial resources available to small business owners right now. We'll also be updating this section as new options become available, so check back often. If your business is or is anticipating a slowdown in business, please consider the following recommendations:
To help you navigate your options, we've collected and summarized a number of financial resources available to small business owners below. If you know of a financial resource not listed here, please submit it by emailing Jessica Lalau, PostcardMania's Director of Marketing Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated August 4, 2020.
REMINDER: The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding program will close their doors this upcoming Saturday to any new applications — the new and likely final deadline is August 8, 2020.
As of July 6th, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) reopened their doors to begin taking applications — the new deadline to apply for a PPP loan is August 8, 2020.
As of April 16, small business relief funds offered through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) had been depleted.
On April 27, PPP officially reopened at 10:30am EDT. The program was refunded with another $310 billion available to small business owners. If you haven't already, contact your bank or preferred lender! If you need more help and clarification on what PPP is, if you qualify and how to ensure your loan is forgiven, keep reading...
The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on Friday, March 27.
The legislation includes a number of business-boosting relief programs, the largest of which is the Small Business Association's (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program or PPP.
As of Wednesday night (April 15), the SBA is reporting that 1,562,000 PPP applications have been approved, totaling over $329 billion.
The good news is that loan applications have officially been approved by the SBA, and money should be in the accounts of more than 1.5 million small business owners shortly.
Hopefully, if you've applied, money will be deposited into your business account in the coming days as approved loans are processed.
Good news — if you haven’t applied as of yet, our government passed an amendment to the CARES Act extending the SBA’s authority to ensure PPP loans for 5 more weeks. The PPP application window will now last until August 8th.
Let this serve as our a reminder to you, our beloved small business owner: the extended window to apply to PPP funding ends this Saturday, August 8th, 2020. It will most likely not be extended again.
If the have yet to apply, this week is your last chance.
For all of our sole proprietors out there – you can apply for this loan as well! However, how you calculate your loan and its forgiveness differ from a small business with employees.
You can calculate your loan by dividing last year’s profit by 12 to get a monthly average net profit. Multiply that figure by 2.5 to determine the amount of your PPP loan.
Since sole proprietors don’t have payroll, 2.5 months’ worth of new profit is automatically forgiven, without having to actually spend it on anything. This is called “Owner Compensation Replacement” – read the official text here.
Reporting indicates there is approximately $129 billion left in funding as of July 6th. The extension keeps the initial source of funding open, giving Congress time to work on a second funding program. This second round of funding is aiming to be more targeted, but in the mean time, read below for help on how to apply!
If you'd like to read up on these loans and other relief available through the $2 trillion CARES Act, continue reading...
The text of the bill can be read on the official Congress website right now.
Here's what we know about how this will affect small businesses, and how to take action asap.
So far, reporting on the bill indicates that it includes:
The CARES Act primarily provides relief to small business owners through SBA loans. There are essentially two types of loans. We created a helpful chart to breakdown each loan, their differences and what those differences might mean to you...
|Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Loans||Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)||Economic Injury Disaster Grants|
|What is it?||A new loan program designed to help business owners maintain payroll||An existing loan program designed to help business owners pay for immediate disaster-related expenses||A cash advance that is distributed with the completion of any EIDL application|
|Who can apply?|| || || |
|Is there a fee to apply?||No||No||No|
|Is there a deadline or cut off date to apply?||Yes — currently June 30, 2020||Applications will only be available as long as a disaster is declared in your area||Applications will only be available as long as a disaster is declared in your area|
|How can the money be used?|| || || |
|Can this loan be forgiven?||Yes, with caveats (more on this below)||No||This is not a loan — it a cash advance that does not need to be paid back (effectively a cash grant)|
|How can I apply?||Through lenders. Inquire first with your preferred institution. You can find SBA-approved lenders in your area here. More institutions will be approved to offer these loans in the coming weeks.||Directly through the U.S. Treasury online here.||Directly through the U.S. Treasury online here.|
|How long will it take to get approved?||Unknown. Current estimates are 2+ weeks. Timing will likely depend on your chosen lender.||Usually 2-3 weeks from filing an application.||Within 3 days after filing an application.|
|How much money can I get?|| The lesser of: ||Up to $2 million||Up to $10,000|
|Can I pay everyone on my payroll with this loan?||No. This loan cannot be used to pay individuals earning more than $100,000 annually.||Yes||Yes|
|When does repayment start?||Up to one year from approval||Up to one year from approval||No repayment necessary|
|What would my interest rate be?||No more than 4.0%, to be determined by lenders|| ||No repayment necessary|
|What are the terms?||Up to 10-year term after forgiveness.||Up to 30 year. Terms vary by case.||No repayment necessary|
|Do I have to offer a personal guarantee or collateral?||No||Loans over $25,000 may require collateral and $200,000 may require a personal guaranty||No — this is effectively a grant|
|What's the fine print on forgiveness?|| At least 75% of your loan must be used for payroll. |
Loan forgiveness will be equal to the amount paid by the borrow for:
Your forgiveness amount will be reduced if:
| Only the first $10,000 is forgiven in the form of a cash advance. |
Even if you are eventually denied an EID Loan, you do not have to repay the $10,000 advance.
|None needed — this is a grant.|
|Anything else I should know?||If you've laid off workers or reduced salaries prior to this loan, you should re-hire staff and/or return wages to their previous amounts once the loan is approved in order to obtain full loan forgiveness.|| Recipients of this loan may not apply for PPP Loans for the same purposes. |
Existing EID Loans may be refinanced into PPP loans.
| Grant recipients may still apply for a PPP loan. |
The amount of this grant ($10,000) is taken into consideration when determining PPP loan forgiveness.
The recently-passed CARES Act includes a number of business-boosting relief programs, the largest of which is the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP. The PPP portion of the CARES Act authorizes up to $349 billion for small businesses in the form of forgivable loans. These loans are designed give small business owners the means and motivation to avoid layoffs and continue paying workers directly. You are eligible for PPP if:
Note: Self-employed individuals and independent contractors cannot apply until April 10, 2020. In brief, here are the highlights of PPP loans:
Keep in mind that there are some provisions in PPP loans regarding your borrowable amount. These CANNOT be included when calculating how much you can borrow include:
There are several extremely important factors you should pay close attention to in order to have this loan forgiven. Forgiveness is primarily based on maintaining employee count and salary levels. This means if your business’s headcount goes down or salaries decrease, so does potential forgiveness.
You can apply to have loans forgiven with this official forgiveness form. It has some tools set in place to make it easier for you, including:
Once the form is filled out to the best of your ability, submit it to your lender or the lender that is servicing your loan. Some lenders also have electric form submission options.
Here are some VERY important facts about getting this loan forgiven:
You should be able to apply for PPP through your current lender. Here is the list of PPP-approved institutions:
Recently, nontraditional finance companies Paypal, Square and Intuit Quickbooks were approved as PPP lenders to distribute loans to small business owners. These companies will begin rolling out their own PPP lending programs and accepting applications shortly.
This approval comes as loan disbursement reportedly rises to $230 billion out of $350 billion available to small businesses nationwide.
If your bank is not currently offering the program, they may offer it at a later time as more institutions apply for approval and are enrolled in the program. If you'd like to get started on your application, you can download a sample form from the SBA here.
Helpful PPP links, websites and PDFs:
Note: The Inc./U.S. Chamber of Commerce town halls have been extended into an ongoing series to discuss funding options available to small business owners. You can register for the next town hall and watch recordings of previous sessions here.
So, what can you do right now to ensure your small business benefits from this stimulus?
Contact your bank TODAY. Discuss your options.
The CARES Act also provides funding for another important source of relief for small business owners — Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EID Loans).
Unlike PPP loans, which are processed and delivered through established lending institutions, EID Loans are handled directly by the U.S. Treasury. Meaning you can apply online right now.
If you apply for an EID Loan, you will be given a $10,000 grant as an advance a few days after applying, and this grant does not have to be repaid — even if you are eventually denied the loan.
Again, the disaster loan cash advance is essentially a free grant. Money in your pocket that you don't have to pay back.
You can apply for an EID Loan here.
Now, you may be wondering...
How will this bill affect my workers and other workers all over the country?
Here's what we know about how this bill affects workers:
The bill includes relief for American workers in the form of $1,200 one-time payments to employees making less than $75,000, scaling down $5 for every $100 the taxpayer makes. Working parents are eligible to $500 in relief per dependent child. It's being reported that relief payments are capped at $3,000.
In addition, unemployment benefits have been boosted and will include relief for gig economy workers like freelancers and independent contractors who are not employed full time by a single employer. Examples of gig economy workers include Uber drivers and delivery service drivers.
Disclaimer: PostcardMania is not a financial institution and any financial decisions you or your business undertakes should be made in close consultation with you bank or chosen financial professional. We're just trying to gather information relevant to small businesses, streamline it and present it to you daily.
Last updated April 17, 2020.
If you've been denied a PPP loan or have yet to been assigned a loan number before funds ran out, there is still hope for financial assistance.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation just launched the Save Small Business Fund to provide $5,000 grants to as many small business employers as possible.
Here are the qualification criteria for businesses:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claims the application process will be short and only take about 10 minutes to complete. All you'll need to apply is your business's W9 form and some basic supporting information.
Grants will be awarded weekly until funds are depleted, but you need only apply once to be considered on an ongoing, rolling basis.
Grant applications will open Monday, April 20, 2020 at 3pm EDT/12noon PDT.
You can sign up for application updates and verify that your area qualifies here.
Last updated March 30, 2020.
Tax Day 2020 has been moved from April 15 to July 15. This will take effect automatically — you do not have to apply for an extension. Simply file your taxes by July 15 as normal. The IRS will also allow individual and corporation tax payments to be deferred until July 15. More information on this year's taxes:
The IRS published a special coronavirus information page on their website focused on helping taxpayers and businesses understand new guidance. The information contained within this new COVID-19 section includes:
The IRS will be updating their coronavirus section as new information becomes available. The CARES Act also provides a number of relief options with regards to taxation. Here's what we know about how the bill affects small business taxes:
We suggest you consult the official IRS website for further instruction if needed.
Last updated April 14, 2020.
Regarding eligibility — only small businesses with between 2 and 50 employees are eligible for these grants, and you must have been established and serving the community for over a year.
Facebook announced the U.S. locations eligible (and likely to be eligible) to receive its small business grants.
Here are the locations currently accepting grant applications:
Applications will be handled and administered via Facebook's partner, Ureeka. The application deadline is currently April 28, 2020, at 11:59pm EDT.
Facebook explains its application process here. Applying businesses will be required to provide proof that your business has been in operation at least one year, and you are expected to explain how you will use the grant money.
Here are the locations already confirmed eligible for Facebook grants, with applications to open shortly:
Here are the locations that Facebook says are likely to be eligible for its grants, with confirmation coming soon:
We'll be updating this section as more areas become eligible to offer these grants and open their application process. Check back for more details.
Last updated March 30, 2020.
Google is making changes its Google My Business listings to help small businesses keep customers informed as to how COVID-19 is affecting operations. Google will soon allow businesses to mark themselves as "temporarily closed." It's being reported that Google is now allowing certain businesses (like restaurants) to update their My Business listing to add "delivery available" and "takeout available." In a recent blog post, Google announced that a new option to mark your business as "temporarily closed" will appear on your Google My Business page in the coming days. Google's AI (artificial intelligence) technology will also begin contacting businesses where possible to confirm business hours, so be alert for that. While the "temporarily closed" option still hasn’t appeared at the time of writing this, Google does offer a number of steps your business can take now to reflect any changes you've made due to COVID-19. Google's suggested steps include:
If you haven't created a Google My Business page for your business yet, we suggest doing so immediately. To help, we created a clickable one-page PDF that lists a number local directories that allow your business to be found easily online. You can download that PDF for free here. In addition to Google My Business updates, Google formally announced they are committing $340 million in Google ad credits to all small and medium-sized businesses who have had existing accounts with them. Here's what we know about these business ad credits:
If your account is currently managed by PostcardMania, our reps will keep you informed every step of the way as we learn more about how and when Google will distribute these ad credits. You can read more about Google's coming ad credits here.
Last updated March 20, 2020.
Paid sick leave legislation, known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, officially became law on March 18, 2020. Businesses with 50 to 500 employees must provide paid sick leave for part- and full-time staff, which can be reclaimed in the form of tax credits. The new law only lasts until December 31, 2020, when it will expire. First and foremost, a few reasons to take heart, business owners:
Now, let's get to some of the nitty-gritty behind this new law. Here's what we know:
Federal employees and employees working at businesses employing 500 staff or fewer qualify for 2 weeks of sick leave at their full, regular rate. An employee must have been employed by a qualifying business for at least 30 days to qualify.
If an employee is ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis/preventative care for coronavirus, they qualify for full sick leave pay. Employees are also entitled to extra leave (up to 3 months) at two-thirds of their regular rate if they are caring for a family member with a COVID-19 diagnosis or they stay home to care for a child whose school or daycare has closed due to coronavirus measures.
Yes, this legislation includes coverage for part-time staff and gig economy workers — albeit at a reduced cost to you.
Sick leave payments can be recouped by employers quarterly in the form of a refundable tax credit.
For the moment, yes — but you do have options. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from the law if providing leave "would jeopardize the viability of the business." If this is you, you will have to reach out to Department of Labor to apply for this exemption. A few more things of note regarding this new law: Employers can decline to give leave to workers in high-risk industries like health care and emergency responders. You can read the newly passed law in its entirety here.
Last updated March 31, 2020.
Many local governments are now rolling out their own relief small business relief packages to help local businesses cope with the impacts of COVID-19. This list does not include every single local financial program in the U.S., but we've done our best to keep track of them and compile them here in one place for you. Here is a long list of local financing resources for available to businesses in distress due to COVID-19:
We strongly encourage you to seek out any relief programs that may be developing or already announced in your:
If you happened to miss out on applying for PPP loans or didnt quality, the federal government has approved Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) for small businesses in all 50 states. This relief is offered via the Small Business Administration (SBA). This program offers:
We’ve pulled some of the most important distinctions between PPP and EIDL loan properties for you (but can read them for yourself here):
Last updated March 23, 2020.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are suspending foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days and up to 12 months due to the coronavirus national emergency. Between them, 46% of all mortgages originated in 2018 were backed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. This suspension applies to homeowners with an Enterprise-backed single-family mortgage. The move comes after the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to help borrowers who are at risk of losing their home. “This foreclosure and eviction suspension allows homeowners with an Enterprise-backed mortgage to stay in their homes during this national emergency,” said Director Mark Calabria. “As a reminder, borrowers affected by the coronavirus who are having difficulty paying their mortgage should reach out to their mortgage servicers as soon as possible. The Enterprises are working with mortgage servicers to ensure that borrowers facing hardship because of the coronavirus can get assistance.” Borrowers should note that they will need to contact the lender they send checks to every month to establish a new short-term agreement — and not simply stop paying their mortgages. You can read the FHFA statement here.
Last updated March 31, 2020.
Alice built a short questionnaire that identifies specific relief options best suited to you based on how coronavirus has affected your business. Alice is a machine-learning digital business advisor. It is designed to offer personalized business recommendations to businesses of all shapes, sizes and locations by using machine learning to sort through massive amounts data. Alice's impact options include:
You can take the short quiz here and see which financial resources are best for your particular situation. Alice's current database of resources includes more than 50 financial relief programs.
Last updated April 24, 2020.
Entrepreneur.com is hosting a crisis management webinar series that will delve into new challenges business owners face as a result of COVID-19. The webinars are said to run through the entirety of the coronavirus pandemic — basically, as long as it continues to affect the country and our economy. Entrepreneur promises to cover all aspects of business operation throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Topics that will be covered include:
And here are just a few specific webinar you can watch on-demand now that may be of interest:
You can check out Entrepreneur's upcoming webinars and register here. Again, stay smart, vigilant and ready to adapt, and we'll all make it through this together.
Take heart, small business owners — Not all is doom and gloom.
There remain countless bright spots across our country. Business owners, entrepreneurs and communities coming together to preserve our vital small business economy.
We're collecting these stories here to help you stay inspired and motivated, as well as providing ideas, inspiration and proven advice to not only help you weather this crisis — but put your business in the best position possible to be stronger than ever once we finally emerge on the other side.
If you know of a business owner doing amazing things despite the coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19, tell us. Email our Jessica, our director or marketing communications, at email@example.com and share their story!
Last updated May 4, 2020.
To help you stay inspired, we're collecting REAL small business pivots and success stories to share them with you here. These are business owners who didn't stop hustling. They haven't closed, even though they may have been forced to completely change business as usual. We're certainly inspired by them and think you will be too...
The home remodeling industry has definitely seen an uptick with so many homeowners stuck at home. Those business owners who have been most able to capitalize on this trend were also the first to implement virtual consultations and stay in touch through video on social media. One interior designer, who explains her virtual consultation process here, says it was born out of necessity and "that's kind of how we started doing these virtual consults," she said. "And then it evolved into, wait a second, this is actually working really, really well. So we started advertising that we were doing virtual consults and we made it really, really simple."
For real estate agents, open houses and in-person home tours have gone virtual as well. One NY-based agent used to reserve virtual 3D tours for pricier homes, but now he's offering them for everyone. Another agent discourages tours via Facetime though, because the software will make the space appear smaller.
A small independent shop in Washington D.C. is delivering groceries and deli items with robots. Yes, ROBOTS, and they are specifically designed for food delivery.
The shop's owner has a fleet of 10 robots that delivery about 50% of her 60–70 daily deliveries. The deliveries started after the shop was forced to close due to social distancing issues — that's when Starship, the developer of the delivery robots, got in touch with the shop owner to launch robotic deliveries.
You can watch the robots in action here.
Obviously, this isn't workable for 99.9% of us right now, so here are some more practical examples of business owners pivoting operations to stay open and generate an income:
If your business is lesson-based (music, dance, art, karate, etc.), take classes online like this dance studio did to ensure your students can stick to their routines and still reap the benefits of your instruction. This software even offers two-way broadcasting to help you assist students, all at an agreeable monthly price. Also, PBS published this article with tips on distance learning.
If you prefer FREE broadcasting tools, Facebook or Instagram live are both highly accessible, free platforms you can take advantage of. Here's just one example of an online drawing class hosted on Instagram Live. You'll build a larger following and gain some valuable exposure that will hopefully translate to new enrollments once COVID-19 fears have quelled.
If you host meetings or conferences in person, move to virtual. We had to do this ourselves and were forced to cancel our bi-annual Small Business Owners Growth Summit in early April. This is usually huge event for us, but we embraced the change and offered a live and free daily broadcast via YouTube Live... and it turned out great! Usually, we limit attendees to 100 business owners (and they have to fly to our headquarters in Clearwater, FL to get this info), but our virtual event ended up reaching nearly 2,000 small business owners instead.
If your business is a traditional brick-and-mortar, take a page from this florist's book and implement home deliveries! She leaves fresh arrangements on the doorsteps and delivers everything herself. With gas prices so low, this is more doable than ever.
This clothing brand based in Kansas City, MO — SewKC — pivoted away from clothing and started manufacturing handmade CDC-approved washable face masks in fun and funky patterns. Orders have been through the roof and they've been working around the clock. Their congressman even wrote to say thanks!
This catering business has turned to preparing dishes live on Instagram TV for audiences to watch, be inspired and follow along. She's even focusing on using pantry ingredients that we are all likely to have on hand right now.
Maybe your business requires people to gather in groups? This Texas movie theater found a way around that too — they're now projecting movies on the side of a building and offering tickets to consumers who want to drive-in and park to watch films. So far, they're totally sold out and demand is only increasing.
If you're in the entertainment sector (ticketed entry industries such as the theater, parks, historical sites, etc.), consider online ticketing or streaming an experience for those stuck at home to enjoy. A zoo in Chicago recently went viral by streaming penguins exploring different exhibitions after closing due to COVID-19 fears, and now plans to continue coverage as an ongoing series. Brainstorm ways your business can take advantage of interesting "behind the velvet rope" content that will allow viewers exclusive access to unseen parts of your business.
If you're using newfound downtime to organize, cleanse and purge, here's an idea. Why not put the goodies you don't need to good use? One business collected a ton of goodies they had sitting around to curate hand-picked surprise boxes offered for just $50. And guess what - those also sold out.
Food- and fitness-based businesses can shift their focus to promoting at-home exercise routines and immunity-boosting recipes and supplements. Here's an example of an event caterer who shifted to discussing how different foods and beverages affect the immune system. (Of course, it's important to NEVER to make false claims regarding supplement efficacy when it comes to health and wellness.)
Restaurants, bakeries and cafes — of course, delivery or easy pick-up should be at the forefront of your adaptation. Third party delivery apps like Uber Eats and Grubhub make it easy to get started with delivery quickly without hiring your own delivery team, but we think that many of your staff may want to start delivering for you if possible.
Here's another restaurant offering a giveaway as a way to increase likes and followers. (Once someone is subscribed to you on social media, it's easier to reach them with posts, stories and (if those aren't working) ads.)
Restaurants and caterers, you also pre-mix cocktails and offer those mixes as part of your delivery/takeout menu. This Mexican restaurant is offering several margarita mixes to spice up their delivery offerings. People can add their own alcohol (or not!) and enjoy at home. Another one for restaurants: open up your pantry for community shopping or consider offering pre-portioned meal boxes that can be prepared at home using your supply chain. As eat-in diners likely decline, don't let your stock go to waste when it could put money in your pocket. Here's one business already doing just that.
Businesses centered around food, don't forget that can open up their direct message (your DMs) for order placement. It's free for you and easy for customers. One vegan restaurant in Granada Hills, CA is giving it a go with success.
Speaking of restaurants, here is an inspiring small business story — after laying off staff last Monday, this Denver, CO pub was able to re-hire everyone back by Friday thanks to an outpouring of local support via gift cards, tips and takeout orders.
And now, a success story: This pub in Denver is proof that pivoting can work and support operations through this pandemic... From the Vine Street Pub & Brewery Facebook page:
"Wow, just incredible… THANK YOU! We’ve seen SO MANY of you at the pubs’ curbside pick-ups, and you’ve been so generous with the tips you’ve left that we can elatedly say IT’S MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR OUR FAMILY! Due to your heart-warming turn out this week, all locations were able re-hire pub family members who lost their jobs on Monday. If this support continues, so too will this glorious trend."
You can check out the entire post here. They have a lot more to say and we've loving it! While you're there, take a look at their other posts. This pub is a great example of how to keep your audience engaged while people are at home, with new specials posted daily.
If your business's social media following is not highly engaged, here's what you can do to get virtual outreach rolling: Start by sending direct emails daily to your entire customer list to let them know you've pivoted online. Be sure to explain how and where they can continue to engage with and support your business. Once you have a few people tuning in, do this:
If your business doesn't currently offer virtual gift cards, we hear you. We just launched a virtual gift card package for small businesses that includes everything needed to get online gift cards up and running quickly. This is all included:
We aren't here to make money off of this either. So, for a limited time, while coronavirus is still an issue for small businesses, we're offering this package at our own cost. But it won't last forever. By the way, we're sharing examples of businesses adapting to and thriving despite COVID-19 live on our social media stories and profiles. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and find us on Instagram (@postcardmania).
Last updated May 18, 2020.
It's more vital than ever that you adapt your business to the new post-COVID business landscape in order to stay competitive and keep cash flowing.
That means pivoting might be in the cards for you.
A recent Inc.com survey revealed that 28% of small businesses had already pivoted their operations in some form due to coronavirus. That's almost 1 of our every 3 business owners!
It's quickly becoming an adapt-or-die environment for businesses — you could even argue that it is already is and has been for months.
To help you adapt, we've collected a ton of resources and real examples for you.
Read on and read it all to really get your creativity pumping.
Here are a few comprehensive resource lists that have already been published:
Facebook and Instagram recently rolled out new features designed to highlight and support small businesses on their platforms. You might have seen them already!
On Instagram, the newest effort to support small businesses looks like this:
It's a sticker that you (and your users) can add to your Story that will be featured in a Support Small Business Story feed, which is pushed to the top of every user's Story feed — as long as someone they follow uses the sticker. You can read more about the sticker on Instagram's blog.
Facebook, Instagram's parent company, is in on the action too.
You know how you can update what you're doing or feeling on Facebook? Well, "in support of" is now a status update option, and users can link directly to your business's page to show their support. Here's how it would look:
Facebook wrote more about the new update here.
Google will now start offering Google Meet, its business-savvy video conferencing software, for FREE. Previously, businesses were required to have a G Suite pass (which $6 to $25 per month) to access Google Meet.
All you need to get started is a free Google account, and you'll be able to access enterprise-quality video conferencing software for up to 100 participants. Features include scheduling, screen sharing and real-time captioning.
The only catch is that meetings are capped at 60 minutes for the free version (15 more minutes than Zoom), but Google says it won't enforce this time limit until September 30.
Once you sign up, here's how to use the free version of Google Meet:
LinkedIn got in on the action to help small businesses too... They just added LinkedIn Live, a FREE virtual broadcasting software, to its Events tools.
This means you can now:
You can read more about the new software release on the official LinkedIn blog.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is hosting a FREE ongoing webinar series to help small business owners prepare their reopening plans. Webinars will cover a number of topics to help ensure that business owners oversee a reopening that is safe, responsible and successful.
The series, titled Path Forward, will cover a number of topics, including:
• Phased reopening road maps
• Avoiding liability issues
The series started on April 13 and is planned to be held twice weekly. Webinars are held every Monday and Thursday at 3pm EDT. Full recordings of the webinars are also available. You can check out the webinar lineup here.
As we plan and execute our reopenings, this much is clear about successfully adapting your business to coronavirus:
You HAVE to allow digital transactions and payments to somehow take place. Cash and check payments are not going to cut it with consumers during or after this pandemic.
Here's something to think with:
PayPal processed more transactions on May 1 than on any previous Black Friday or Cyber Monday. In fact, the month of April was record-setting for PayPal, with 10 million new accounts activated. March wasn't too shabby either, as PayPal processed close to $30 billion more in March 2020 than it did it March 2019.
PayPal's projections are way up for the second quarter. They're anticipating 15% more revenue and an additional 15 to 20 million new accounts.
That means consumers are spending!
The catch is that this is PayPal — not your local bank.
If you want to cash in on your piece of consumer demand, you need to have a way to accept digital payments in place.
If you're a restaurant or a small business offering gift cards (like spas and salons), Instagram just added a tool that you might find very valuable to encourage sales:
You can now add a button directly to your Instagram profile that allows people to directly purchase gift cards or place a food order.
The button looks like this:
Once you have the button set up, you can spread the word with by updating your Stories, which are the disappearing status updates that appear at the top of everyone's feed.
You can even add an interactive sticker to your Stories. People click on the sticker and will be taken directly to your gift card or food ordering platform, where they can make their purchase easily.
Instagram broke it all down easily for business owners who want to add this new feature here.
If your website doesn't currently support e-gift card purchases, there are a number of electronic gift card processing companies that will handle this transaction for you and pass the money on to you. Here are few we've heard of (but we don't have any direct relationship or knowledge of their products and how good they are):
This article dissects and ranks a few of these services on your behalf. In addition, we just launched a virtual gift card package for small businesses that includes everything needed to get online gift cards up and running quickly — and we're offering it at cost for a limited time.
If you rely on face-to-face meetings to close deals, consider transitioning to online video meetings hosted by GoToMeeting, Zoom, even Skype. Many companies have already started this move, and now, faced with COVID-19, have transitioned fully to online-based meetings. If your company relies on tradeshows or events to bring in new customers, now is the time to start exploring other options to bring in business, such as:
Offer a discount on gift cards to be used at a future date. COVID-19 won't be here forever — and people know that. Life will get back to normal. Let people know that if they purchase a gift card from you in the coming weeks, they'll save money on future services while helping to support a local small business.
Don't forget to reach people at home (where they're spending a lot of time) with a postcard campaign to let them know how you're adapting and how they can continue to support your business. Don't rely solely on email for your outreach. Email inboxes have been flooded with COVID-19 response emails from basically every business that ever collected an email address. You can stand out with a tangible piece of mail that prospects and customers can hold on to. And in case you missed it — We recently wrote a blog post about how you can take advantage of slower sales and any downtime you might have right now to improve your business. We shared 4 things you can do TODAY that will:
Check it out here: 4 Ways to Take Advantage of Slower Sales During COVID-19.
On top of that:
We published another blog post recently — How to Safeguard Your Business During a Rough Economy — to help you emerge from this crisis in a strong and stable position. You can read it here.
Last updated March 26, 2020.
If you know people looking to pick up work or have been displaced, we've compiled a list of 6 companies still hiring despite coronavirus.
Fortunately for the American workforce, many employers are not only still hiring — they're looking to expand rapidly as Coronavirus puts new demands on business. Here's a list of companies and industries hiring right now:
There's no shame in being paid for an honest day's work, no matter the industry or job title, especially during a pandemic.
We've loving this short, one-and-half-minute video, which highlights the good things people and businesses are doing to come together and offer support. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XWlEt0DWXI
Hopefully it inspires you to keep grinding and, more importantly, keep supporting each other in these trying times.
Last Updated May 20, 2020.
It's official — all 50 states have begun to reopen! The last state, Connecticut, started to reopen today.
Reports are emerging that businesses have been busy since reopening, despite many opening at a reduced capacity.
And there are a lot of signs that people are eager to get back to life as it was before, and that's great news for businesses that have been suffering.
Royal Caribbean Cruises, a large cruise liner in what is arguably one of the most affected industries, is reporting that booking for 2021 are "within historical ranges" when compared to the same time last year.
If people are willing to pay big bucks to get back on cruise ships again, that's a great sign for small businesses like us.
One nail salon reports customers coming from all over Georgia and Florida to get their nails done, and a restaurant owner saying he's thankful to be switching from takeout only. You can read the full local news report here.
Here's a nursery in Illinois that recently reopened and says "customers are really happy" and that they've been "quite busy" since reopening. Reopening applies to many of you, whose businesses may have suffered under harsher stay-at-home policies.
Be sure to keep up with your local news and government on upcoming reopening dates and policies in your area.
Now that we're all on the road to reopening, we would love to hear from all of you about your marketing plans going forward.
We made a super short and super easy survey that I hope you'll take. It's only 10 questions and 7 are multiple choice. It will take literally 3 minutes! You can answer the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FN9Z6RB
To help businesses nationwide get ready for reopening, we're currently offering "We're Back Open!" postcard campaigns. The campaign is designed to help your business hit the ground running by letting customers and prospects know that you're open again and ready for business.
And for a limited time, we're offering these campaigns at a large discount — 20% off.
Even if your business isn't listed above or your state has yet to announce its reopening plan, you can still take advantage of this discount by ordering your cards and getting them printed now. We will hold them for you, and when you're ready to reopen — give us a call and we will mail your cards immediately.
The number of businesses contacting us to get ready to reopen been tracking up and up. After seeing a huge drop at the beginning of COVID-19 hitting the US, we have slight increases weekly and are now back into a normal range of businesses contacting us. This is a great sign for the economy and should serve as a heads up to you that businesses are getting ready to re-open and so should you! We closely track new leads via graph, so you can clearly see for yourself that small businesses are getting ready to open again.
Check it out...
Another positive sign is that our revenue has been back in a normal range for two weeks running.
We wrote more in depth about our quick rebound recently, in this blog post.
In fact, recent numbers released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) show this to be true (which we already knew) — that small business owner optimism is way up again.
The NFIB is the largest small business association in the U.S. and they release these numbers and surveys monthly.
April's survey shows that small business owner optimism was up big-time for the month of April, recovering all losses in optimism from March. Here's a graph to show you this uptick in biz owner optimism — check that blue line:
(Source: Pantheon Macroeconomics)
It appears that business owners are gearing up for reopening, which is essential to ensuring success once things get back to normal. If you haven't already, there are a number of things you can be doing now to put yourself in a prime position for when things open back up including planning a “We’re Back Open” campaign now.
If you aren't sure where to even start when it comes to developing your reopening plan, here are a few helpful links to various guidelines and resources:
The White House and CDC released their official Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. It is a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts to help state and local officials reopen their economies successfully and get people back to work.
The proposed approach is:
The White House and CDC suggests that states meet the following criteria before implementing a phased reopening:
Once states meet all of the above, it is considered safe to move forward with the government's three-phase reopening plan.
For employers, the CDC and White House recommends that you implement these guidelines when reopening:
If you haven't already, read up on the CDC employer guidelines here.
Once a location is considered safe to reopen, the official Guidelines for Opening Up America Again recommend that employers adhere to these recommendations during PHASE 1:
During Phase 1, schools and organized children activities, bars and night clubs should remain closed. However, gyms and venue-based businesses (like restaurants, cinemas, churches, etc.) can operate while observing severe distancing protocols. Elective surgeries and dentists may also resume practicing on an out-patient basis.
Once your area moves to PHASE 2, these guidelines are provided for employers:
During Phase 2, schools and organized children activities can reopen. Bars and night clubs may operate with diminished standing room occupancy where applicable. Gyms and venue-based businesses (like restaurants, cinemas, churches, etc.) can operate while observing moderate distancing protocols. Elective surgeries may also resume on an out-patient and in-patient basis.
Once your area moves to PHASE 3, these guidelines are provided for employers:
During Phase 3, life will be close to normal. Gyms and venue-based businesses (like restaurants, cinemas, churches, etc.) can operate while observing limited distancing protocols.
We encourage you to read these guidelines in their entirety here.
Keeping an eye on daily new cases may be an effective way to predict when it's safe to start your reopening plan.
Below is a graph of daily new confirmed cases from Our World in Data:
Hopefully new cases will continue to decline and we can all start getting back to work and getting this economy back on track.
Here's just one success story we came across:
Zax Auto Wash in Michigan reopened Monday and says that they're "so busy we haven't had a chance to update things." So thrilled to hear this small business is booming again after reopening! We're also hearing reports that roads are becoming busier as foot traffic and commuting picks back up again.
Meanwhile, beyond the U.S.,there are encouraging signs emerging across the world.
Another encouraging sign — Starbucks in Wuhan, China (ground zero for novel coronavirus) have begun to reopen after gaining an OK from Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson.
Regarding the reopening, Johnson commented, "China is on the uptick."
CNBC's Jim Cramer appeared on Squawk Box to comment on the move, which you can watch here:
Now comes even more good news for Americans — Starbucks will begin reopening U.S. cafes nationwide by adopting a "monitor and adapt" approach.
And here's good news for your 401(k) and retirement nest eggs — the stock market is surging today.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 400 points, or 1.7%, in midday trading. This is just a continuation of last week's history rally, which saw the S&P 500 jump 2.1%.
Experts are weighing in that this rebound is down to talks around the world to reopen economies.
Spain is the first to make a move back toward normalcy and ease its lockdown:
The entire construction sector was permitted to return to work on April 14. This is in response to declining new infections (April 14 marks the lowest increase in new cases yet) and an effort to restart their economy. Many nonessential employees — an estimated 300,000 in the Madrid region — returned to work following the Easter weekend.
In addition to Spain, several countries in Europe — Italy, Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria and Norway — are beginning to ease their coronavirus restrictions.
People in the Czech Republic can now:
Italians can visit bookshops and laundries — and now order pizzas for delivery..
Pizzerias in Naples, Italy — widely considered the birthplace of pizza — reopened in late April as a sign of hope for Italians. Reports are saying that over 60,000 pizzas have been sold and delivered since then!
And in Denmark, younger students are returning to classrooms. Austria has reopened small stores and soon Germany will follow suit.
Each of these countries share several key attributes:
This trial reopening could serve as a helpful blueprint for the U.S.
Last Updated May 18, 2020.
As local governments begin allowing businesses to reopen, it's time for small business owners to get smart and serious about their own reopenings.
If you aren't sure where to even start when it comes to developing your reopening plan, here are a few helpful links to various guidelines and resources:
If you're the type that learns best by seeing real examples, we have you covered. A number of businesses have already begun to reopen across the country, so we're going to be collecting those examples and adding them to this page.
Here are a few real reopening snapshots from around the country:
We believe it's going to take some serious creativity and marketing to bounce back effectively while making people feel safe, so we started looking around to find some.
Wondering how some of America's biggest businesses plan on recouping the sales they lost to coronavirus? McDonald's has a simple one — increase the marketing! They announced last week they'll be spending about a month's worth of marketing budget to boost sales.
McDonald's says the move is part of a 3-part, $1 billion plan called "accelerating recovery through investment in our system." Their experts say that this marketing boost will accelerate recover and drive sales.
McDonald's released full details of the plan and a video from their CEO here.
The CEO of my other company, DirectMail2.0 – Brad Kugler recently surveyed business owners on his Facebook page, asking this:
"Honest question for any restaurant managers and owners out there; Operating at the max of 25% capacity will be more or less costly than remaining closed? Will your landlords allow you to pay 25% of rent? Yes, a step in the right direction but wondering if more harm than good on the risk-reward scale..."
Here's a response from Omar Hamid, the owner of 9th Bar Coffee, a café in a Dunedin, FL, a small beach-town suburb of Tampa Bay.
"We've had to get creative. But we've been fine. There will be a bit of natural selection. The strong will survive. We have had zero seating anywhere and we have had to constantly kick people off the property for lingering. Now we got outdoor seating and 25% indoor. The bigger question is will people even be willing to occupy a restaurant at 25%. I think they've gotten used to take out and it's going to be a while till people want to be close to others."
We'll be sharing more stories and insights like these as we find them.
At PostcardMania, we've taken these precautions to ensure staff feel safe enough to return to work:
Ultimately, it's your decision what precautions if any you will take when you reopen. If you do elect to take certain precautions, be sure to document them to protect you and your business in the unfortunate event that a staff member or customer becomes sick. If you're concerned about possible legal action, speak to a lawyer about protecting your business and be sure to closely review your insurance agreements.
And don't forget —
It's vital that you promote your reopening heavily to your customers, prospects and social media followers to ensure that you actually have customers when you reopen. We suggest:
We can help with your reopening promotion — in fact, we're running specials to ensure your campaign is as affordable as possible.
Last Updated May 4, 2020
At the end of April, we surveyed PostcardMania's clients and prospects to ask a few simple questions with regards to coronavirus and COVID-19:
Are you opening?
Have you been open the whole time?
What industry are you in?
What are your plans?
We received a number of responses from you, and they span the entire spectrum. Here's a quick breakdown of the responses:
One thing was abundantly clear though:
You are a resilient and overwhelmingly positive bunch of business owners!
Nothing could possibly demonstrate this more perfectly than featuring your responses in your own words. Again —
These are real business owners and their real replies. We haven't changed anything other than fixing up a typo or grammar mistake here or there (understandable given the strain most business owners are under!).
Here's a Montessori preschool that remained open for the children of essential workers. The best part is they're already seeing an influx in the number of enrollments for the month of May.
Are you opening? Yes
Have you been open the whole time? Yes
What industry are you in? School/Education – Montessori Pre School
What are your plans? Month of March, I just had 9 kids in the school, but I wanted to stay open, for the kids, the parents and also for my business. I knew if I close, it would be real difficult to get back and running again. Most parents were very gracious, I recommended if they were not attending if they could at least make a payment of 1/3rd of what their tuition was, it would help me keep the business going. They did, and every bit helped.
I was sending emails with updates, sending homework and photos to the children at home. I kept up my Facebook page so the parents knew all was well with the school and that it wasn’t really that bad in our neck of the woods.
The attendance is still low, but it is much better for the month of May. All throughout we kept in code with what the CDC recommended.
This business services business has been hustling! Not only did they stay open the entire time, they've been focusing on upping their marketing to further increase new leads and sales.
Are you opening? Been open the whole time
Have you been open the whole time? Yes
What industry are you in? Confidential business sales, acquisitions and valuations
What are your plans? A postcard campaign in line with state opening and we've been recording and soon-to-launch podcast series for buyers and then one for sellers
This Ohio Realtor has seen business slowdown somewhat — but is already planning her rebound with a coordinated campaign that includes targeted direct mail and coordinated online ads.
Are you opening? Yes (essential in Ohio)
Have you been open the whole time? Yes (things have slowed down)
What industry are you in? Realtors
What are your plans? Our plan is to keep checking in on our clients and make sure they are OK. We are hoping financial issues will not lead to foreclosures. While people may not be working, they have also saved money by not driving as much, not having occasions to blow money (birthdays, holidays, graduations, weddings), and certainly less eating out. So, there are positives. Many people are able to work from home. We are hoping for a quick recovery and are ready for an influx of business when it comes.
I have special postcards ordered without typical pushy real estate ads. They are clever and I am betting they will bring us some new business. I have targeted sellers in my best areas.
Good economies sell homes, but so do bad ones. That is why Realtors are essential. When life changes, people may need to move.
We're heartened by these moves and hope to see our economy and life get back to normal sooner rather than later!
So much so that we're offering something special to every single one of you:
"We're Back Open!" postcard campaigns with big savings.
Let your customers know that you're back open the second you're ready to open the door.
It's simple — if you order and print postcards now, all you have to do is call us up when you're ready to open and we will mail them out for you and optimize delivery for your opening date.
We will hold your cards for up to 60 days so you can mail whenever you are ready!
Prepare your business for growth the moment quarantines end — and beat your competition!
Here’s how it works:
Here at PostcardMania, we are committed to staying open, serving small businesses and delivering all current, future and in-process orders without halt despite COVID-19.