Marketing tips for local businesses during COVID-19

June 8, 2020

Quick, easy, and actionable opportunities to boost visibility and promote your business

No doubt you’re super busy right now, adapting your business, serving your loyal customers, and keeping yourself and your family safe during a global pandemic.

But it’s never been more important to promote your business, and maybe even build up a new customer-base that will stay with you once we’re out the other side.

Our website exists to help Edinburgh’s independent businesses connect with their customers and make the most of these extraordinary times. In honour of that mission statement, we’ve put together a few quick digital marketing tips to help you audit your web presence.

A few minutes looking after your profiles could make a big difference!

Review your website

Not everyone is able to easily make changes to their website, but if you can, here are a few essentials:

  • Put a banner at the top which lets visitors know what you’re doing differently during COVID-19.
  • Make sure you have links to your social media accounts so customers can easily keep up to date.
  • Ensure your contact details are present and correct.
  • Keep the essentials simple and easy to find without lots of scrolling or clicking.

Here's a great example from The Kilted Donut:

Lockdown donuts webpage from The Kilted Donut
Update your webite with your new offering

Update your Facebook page

A Facebook page is a great way to keep your fans updated with your latest offers, build a community and to showcase your personality and what makes you special.

It can feel like a lot of work when you’re already busy, but even if you can’t post regularly it’s worth giving your page a quick audit:

  • If you’re offering something different during these uncertain times, create a post that clearly describes what it is and how to get it, and pin it to the top of your page. Don’t make potential new customers scroll to find it. 
  • Use a photo that shows your product in all its glory. Visual prompts are a great way to quickly tell your story.
  • Update your ‘About’ section and make sure your website link and contact details are up to date.
  • Make sure you have a decent cover image at the top that shows the best of your product. 
  • Logos work well as profile photos to help your customers recognise you quickly.


Bonus tips:

If you want to post regularly but are having trouble finding the time, you can schedule posts to appear later. Sit down for half an hour once a week and get it done! Find out more about post scheduling on Facebook here.

Don’t forget to put a friendly greeting and an auto-reply on your Messenger as well, so people know when they can expect you to get back to them. Get everything you need to know about Messenger setup here.

Here's an example of an effective pinned post from Pizza Geeks:

PIzza Geeks Facebook page
Pin a post that summarises your new offering at the top of your Facebook page

Freshen up your Twitter profile

If Twitter is your bag, again a few quick steps will make it easier for customers to find out what you’re about:

  • Make sure your images, bio, and contact details are up to date.
  • Post a tweet that summarises your offering and pin it to the top of your feed.
  • Reply to your mentions - this is a great way to show you engaging with your audience and boost visibility.


Bonus tips:

UPDATE: At the end of May 2020 Twitter finally introduced the ability to save and schedule your tweets, so you can get ahead of the game and get all your tweets for the week done in advance.

Nihongo Connection's pinned tweet game is strong:

Nihongo Connection Twitter page
Make your offering easy to find by pinning it to the top of your Twitter feed

Take your Instagram to the next level

Instagram is a great place to be if you’ve got a photogenic product! 

  • Make sure you are using a few relevant hashtags to help people find you, such as #edinburgh #edinburghdelivery #supportlocal #supportedinburgh #edinburghlockdowneconomy.
  • In response to the pandemic, Instagram have released a “Support Small Business” sticker, so use this in your stories and encourage your followers to do so too.
  • While you can’t pin a post at the top, you can turn some of your Stories into Highlights to showcase the best of your business. Use them to explain your unique offering, or show off your menu.


Bonus tips:

Instagram doesn’t let you schedule posts in advance, but you can do this with a free account from Buffer, which lets you quickly schedule posts on up to 3 social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram is now owned by Facebook, so you can connect your accounts and automatically duplicate your Insta posts to Facebook - two birds, one stone!

Want to delve deeper into Instagram marketing for small businesses? Check out this article.

Mimi's Bakehouse are a great example of how Highlights can work for you:

Mimi's Bakehouse Instagram page
Show off the best of your business with Instagram Highlights


Google My Business

If you can’t make many changes to your website, Google My Business is a really helpful solution because it's usually the first thing people will see if they google you.

  • Log in and update the services you offer if this has changed.
  • Make sure your opening hours and contact details are up to date.
  • If you’re delivering, add your delivery radius.
  • Make sure your website and/or social media presence is linked.

Don’t have a Google My Business profile? This is one platform we would really recommend getting on, especially if you have a physical location. It’s free, only takes a few minutes to set up, and you can easily change your details whenever you like.

Customers can leave reviews, boosting your reputation, and people searching on mobile devices will even be able to just click a button to call you - no copying or typing needed!

Much as we might wish it didn’t, Google generally knows where people are and will always try and find results that are local to the searcher. Having a business listing can automatically put you to the top for people searching for your name, product or service in the city.

Find out more about how to get up and running with Google My Business here and take a look at this example from Le Roi Fou:

Le Roi Fou SERP Google My Business
Update Google My Business with changes to your operation


Final thoughts on promoting your business during lockdown and beyond

We get it - this is a really challenging time for everyone. 

We’re not suggesting you suddenly start creating profiles and posting on every channel - just use what works for you to strengthen the bonds with your community. Nobody knows your customer like you do, which means you’re uniquely positioned to understand the best way to reach out.

There’s no need to go reinventing the wheel each time either. Work out your key messages, find your best images, and share these across all your channels. Not only does this keep your messaging consistent, but it saves you a tonne of time.

Local has never been more important, and much of the appeal of small businesses lies in the personal service and the personal stories behind them. Show your customers who you are, share your face, share your story, and above all — be yourself. 

Article by

Annabel Stanley

Marketer, foodie, traveller, rugby geek, petter of other people's dogs.

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