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It’s Time To Pull Together

(updated April 4, 2020)

We used to love the word “Corona” at JFG. Not that it’s a great beer (it isn’t; we’ve had Smithwick’s on tap at the office since 2004 and THAT is a great beer) – but Corona is a great state of mind. It must be the marketers in us that made us suckers for the image they were able to associate with their product (especially on a snowy, February day while staring out our office windows). But now, whenever we hear the word, we think of panic, uncertainty, and, most importantly, misinformation. That’s because there is no one alive today who ever went through this before and, therefore, there is no road map.

So, if you’re a small business like we are (or just a resident of Western New York in search of answers), and you’re uncertain how you’re going to survive this whole mess, you’ve come to the right place. This will be a living page of links and pertinent (real) information on how you can try to keep your business alive, find tips on how you can do your own marketing/advertising, take advantage of any state or federal programs, find some relevant health news, support Western New York businesses and charities, or just share your suggestions with others by submitting the form below. We are also going to feature ways you can help those less fortunate. Because, as bad as you have it, there’s always someone who’s far worse off. What you won’t find, however, is vitriol, blame or anything political – because that’s all a complete waste of time and breath (and we’re plenty sick of it – and pretty sure you can find that just about anywhere today).

Someday we will come out of this. But, until then, let’s all pull together and try to help each other. Because we all deserve a chance to get back to a far better state of mind. And a much better beer option to get us there (like Smithwick’s, for example).

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Small Biz Loan Programs

The C.A.R.E.S. Act, also known as the Payroll Protection Program, provides loans to cover payroll and other expenses – and could be forgiven if certain guidelines are followed,.

The SBA Disaster Loan Assistance Program provides low interest loans of up to $2 million. Click the headline above to start the application; click this link for a step-by-step guide.  

The Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund offers grants to help small businesses fill urgent financial gaps until they can resume normal operations or until other more permanent financing becomes available. 

 

Small Business Support Links

Facebook Small Business Grant Program – Grant program allocating $100 million to help 30,000 small businesses. Applications are not open yet and current details are limited, but we’ll keep you up to date.

U.S. Small Business Administration Guidelines & Loan Resources – List of resources provided by the SBA including exporting assistance, government contracting and more.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) – Low-interest small business loans of up to $2 million that, although not yet available in all parts of NYS, will likely become available statewide soon.

The New York Federal Reserve Bank has set up its own resource page with plenty of links for workers, employers,  financial counseling, credit protection and more.

GoDaddy has launched the #OpenWeStand site for any small business that is minding their customers’ and employees’ safety.

Lender Match – Free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders.

 The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has put together five resources that are designed to help small businesses survive.

Ways You Can Save at Home

This is one of those rare times in history when everyone on the planet is being negatively impacted by one thing. The last one was either the Black Death or when Game of Thrones ended, depending on your perspective. And, whether you own a small business or have been let go (or furloughed) by your company, you could use as much cash on hand as possible right now. Our company is no different and we wasted no time reaching out to all of our vendors/suppliers to determine what could be done to help. Some services we canceled outright because we’re no longer in the office, but that’s not always the best answer for people at home.

So, we wanted to share some of the tips we’ve learned over the past few weeks with everyone. On a good day, calling any of these places can be as pleasant as driving an ice pick through your forehead, but look at it this way: you probably have time on your hands now; the savings are well worth it; and the person at the other end of the line is definitely being impacted by the crisis in some way as well. That means they may be more apt to show empathy provided you don’t come at them like a caged animal; start off by saying, “Where are you located? Is your family safe?” Then go for the discount:

 

Car/Mortgage/Home Equity Loans

Need an extension on a loan? Call whoever is holding your loan; they should immediately give you a 90-day extension, meaning no payments until July. Maybe you can do even better depending on your lender (especially if they are local).

Online Radio

Good luck. These guys have adopted the anti-human attitude that if you want a new subscription, they have plenty of people to take your order. If you want to cancel, you’ll need to submit a written request. And if you want a discount? All their operators mysteriously have the virus. Funny how that works.

Cable/Satellite

Call their customer loyalty numbers (look them up on the internet before wasting time trying to navigate whatever country they’ve outsourced their call center to) and tell them you were offered a better deal; and be sure to tell them the alternative is not to reduce your number of channels, but to reduce the costs.

Phones

If you have a landline still, you should be able to drop your charge in half at least. If you have cell phones, just threaten to go to a competitor. Also, Verizon is offering 15GB of free data automatically to plans and will waive overage and late charges.

Internet

Call your supplier and you should be able to cut your costs by at least 1/3. However, Spectrum is offering free internet for students to help them complete their homework assignments.

 

Equipment Rental

(more for businesses, but still)

Call whoever it is you are renting from (in our case, it was a color copier); you may need to submit it in writing – but it’s worth it.

 

Health/Life Insurance

There are also no penalties if you don’t pay for 60 days. Call your carrier and you may get even more.

Credit Cards

Tell them your situation; they will (should) extend payment terms with no penalties.

 

 

Gas/Electric

Same thing here, they will give you a 90-day reprieve with no penalties or threat of shutoff. If you’re on autopay, you will need to call them.

JFG Marketing Tip Corner

History shows that if you cut less of your marketing efforts during downtimes, you’ll gain more in better times. Granted, this kind of downturn is something none of us have ever had to live through. But still, businesses that have chosen a strategy of refocusing their spending during a recession have outperformed businesses that made large budget cuts, according to studies that analyzed recent recessions at CXL.com. Now is not the time to completely halt your marketing efforts: it’s the time for you to be even more strategic in implementing them.

The following tips have been curated by JFG’s subject matter experts and are meant to offer some recommendations on what your business can be doing on your own now.

Website/SEO/Content Tips

  • Monitor your website for hacks or redirects. We have seen an increase in malicious attacks attempts. Keep plugins up to date and change admin passwords regularly to help protect your site. 
  • SEO remains important, particularly as more and more people move to the web to find the information, products and services they need. Maintain your current SEO efforts or look to start or increase your work to help get your site atop the search results. 
  • Keep producing relevant content even in this hectic time. Continue to update your website or blog to build trust with your customers. Maintain your brand’s marketing message with a relevant tone to the current events. You should also keep updating visitors on what measures your business is taking during this time, including any closures, special messages for customers, etc.
  • Update work hours on the website and repeat this on your Google My Business profile.
  • Now more than ever people will be on Google asking questions. Adding a FAQ page to your site will help increase SEO.
  • Visit this link to learn Why SEO Remains Important During the Pandemic

Social Media Tips

  • Keep the momentum going on your social media pages by continuing to post and engage with your customers with at least 2-3 posts per week.
  • Tune your message to be sensitive to what’s happening during the crisis and be thoughtful about your tone of voice in your posts.
  • Start a paid campaign on Facebook and/or Instagram. People will spend a high percentage of their time scrolling through social media, so now is a perfect time to get your brand in front of them. Use messaging that they can relate to during this time.
  • Utilize video to help answer questions about your industry.
  • Be sure your social media profiles are updated with accurate hours and other important information.
  • View our tip guide for more information:
    Download tip guide here

Digital Marketing Tips

  • Divert your marketing budget that would have normally been spent on trade shows, private events or other traditional forms of advertising to digital efforts such as PPC, video ads or banner ads.
  • Tweak ad messaging to remain relevant during this time and remove any messaging that may sound too pushy or greedy.
  • Check the ad copy of your digital campaigns to ensure your tone and message sits right. Also check your calls-to-action and keywords to make sure they are relevant.
  • Reconsider your KPIs so they reflect the current situation.

JFG Emergency Support Package

If any or all of these tips become too cumbersome or time-consuming, we have created an emergency marketing support package focused on the above efforts. Simply drop us a line and let us know what you’d like help with and we’ll get right back to you.

Healthcare Resources

Erie County Health Department

Get specific information for Buffalo and Erie County.

NY Department of Health

Find information related to all of New York state.

Niagara County Health Department

Provides local information, links and tips for residents.

CDC Prevention Guidelines

Information on how the virus spreads and ways to protect yourself, your family and others.

CDC Mental Health Management Tips

A resource for advice on coping with stress and anxiety during this uncertain time.

Horizon Telehealth Services

Remote counseling that brings safe, secure and life-changing treatment directly to the people who need it.

Support WNY Businesses

The City of Lockport has put together a page of resources for local businesses.

The Lockport Community Market has launched a site to purchase Farmer’s Market items online.

New York State has also created a list essential businesses. Be sure to show support to those in your area on this list.

The Buffalo News is keeping track of local restaurants still offering takeout and delivery options, despite the major interruptions in operations they face. Our bars and restaurants are a big part of what makes Buffalo special – help support them through this crisis.

Niagara County has a huge list of local restaurants that are still offering takeout as well. Please visit them as often as you can or help them out by purchasing a gift card (plus, let’s face it: home cooking eventually will drive you crazy). And here’s a simple idea to support health workers and businesses alike: call one of your local restaurants that is providing delivery and send a meal to your local hospital staff or first responders. This will show that you’re thinking of them while helping to keep a small business going (and the food is an added benefit, of course).

To download the full list, click here.

Western New York Nonprofits

Nationally, Buffalo is known for chicken wings, snow and losing Super Bowls. But the true defining characteristic of Buffalo and Western New York is our generosity. We’re known as the City of Good Neighbors for good reason (and that “city” includes all of WNY). So, let’s remember to continue to help those less fortunate than we are by reaching out and supporting the following nonprofits (we’ll be adding to this list regularly, so please check back or submit your suggestions below). As it’s been said before, if you have a roof over your head, food in the fridge and clothes on your back you are richer than 75% of the world. Time to pay it forward.

Alzheimer’s Association of WNY provides support to people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and the dedicated families who provide care. Learn more here.

Catholic Charities of Buffalo provides counseling services and basic emergency assistance, while its nine food pantries remain open. Learn more here.

Aspire of WNY provides care to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Learn more here.

Child & Family Services works to create safe environments for children, adults and families in area homes, schools, workplaces and communities, Learn more here.

Family and Children’s Services Niagara provides a range of services that protect vulnerable children and families. Learn more here.

Child Care Resource Network is working diligently to match essential front-line workers in need of child care with programs that have temporary vacancies. Learn more here.

Community Missions of Niagara Frontier supports people in vulnerable, underserved and marginalized communities. Learn more here.

Mental Health Association in Niagara County provides a wide variety of mental health services. Learn more here.

FeedMore WNY (which is now combined with the Food Bank of WNY) is working diligently to  deliver hot meals and collect food for those in need.  Learn more here.

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