After Irma – The Struggle To Rebuild Florida Small Businesses
Hurricane Irma plowed thorough the entire state of Florida over the weekend, leaving millions of residents without electricity. Florida prepares itself for days, and maybe weeks, without power. While the focus of the news after Irma has been on residents recovering their homes, and streets being cleared of large downed trees, the impact of the storm on small business is far reaching.
In the years when I traveled the world for business, I remember my Brazilian clients would joke that no business was conducted during the month of Carnaval. First there were the two weeks where people were thinking about Carnaval, then there was the week of Carnaval, and then the week recovering from Carnaval. Unfortunately Florida small businesses are suffering a similar fate, only without the party in between. First there was the week before Irma when no business was conducted because everyone was preparing for and thinking about the storm, then the storm itself, and now it seems that we’ll have 1-2 weeks of inactivity or maybe more after Irma when businesses wait for power and internet to be restored, for roads to their businesses to be cleared, and for their clients to take care of their own homes and businesses after Irma to be ready to think clearly and focus once more on conducting business.
After Irma passed, the stories of resilience and community began to surface. Even neighbors in downtown condos actually began speaking to one another, which is a feat in and of itself! It brought back memories of what struck me when I visited Australia many years ago and strangers would strike up a conversation while waiting to cross the street. We saw the social media community bustle with activity and personally I heard from people I hadn’t communicated with in months, or even years, who suddenly checked in to see if my family and I were OK, and to express their concern and support. It was a nice affirmation of the human spirit that even though our lives have become incredibly busy, making it difficult to keep in touch, we really are thinking of one another and we really do care.
After Irma my team and I reached out to all of our clients to help with getting urgent messages sent to their clients and community regarding when they planned to reopen–sometimes a shifting target–and whether they would like to promote special services to help our community with recovery. We are fortunate in that our team is distributed across the country so when one team member posted to our group chat that she had to go offline as water had breached the sandbags around her Florida home and then that her power was out, another team member was quick to jump in and take over. In fact, our team member Heather who had just returned from rescuing animals in Texas after Harvey and driving them to no kill shelters up north was one of the first to jump in. “It’s really nothing”, she had told us “we’re just the transport”. We beg to differ.
Our clients have been quick to offer everything from legal support with insurance companies, and helping tenants in damaged properties to get out of a lease agreement, to providing support with after Irma tax relief, restoring business phone service, helping with sore backs from boarding up windows and moving downed trees, dealing with post-storm stress, to even getting dogs out of harm’s way in post Irma cleanup efforts and sharing how to help dogs displaced or abandoned during the storm.
Their efforts to help others, while still dealing with their own damage at home, have been an inspiration. We put our heads together to discuss how our small business marketing services could help give impacted small businesses the boost they need following Irma to regain momentum. While specifics may vary depending on the type of business, here is what we came up with:
- Writing a blog for your website on how your company is able to provide support to Florida businesses and individuals after Irma. Many people are searching for support after Irma.
- Sending an e-blast to your clients and community to inform them of this support.
- Creating a social media campaign highlighting what your business is doing after Irma to support the community. Some may be paid and some may be voluntary, but we need to let the community know about available resources and you’re one of them.
- On-page SEO to optimize your website so it is more likely to be found when people are searching.
- Local SEO to help your business to be found when people are searching from their mobile phones.
- Call tracking to not only know which of your marketing efforts are generating a return, but we can quickly update all of your social media channels and website with a number you can forward to your mobile phone when clients and prospects try to reach you.
- Don’t have a website? We have a staged approach where we can have the first few pages up for you as a landing page within a week, and work on the rest of the pages later. The point is that you need to be found.
For any of our monthly services we are waiving our 6-month minimum term for new clients. If you just need support for this month to give your business a boost, then we’re happy to help. If you have been thinking about doing more with your marketing and are ready to commit for 6 months, then we are offering 25% off of your first month of service if you start in September. If you refer another business who signs up for 6 months before the end of September, then we’ll give you a 25% commission on their first month of service to help rebuild your own business following Irma. Although we have never before discounted our services, we are committed to helping Florida rebuild our vibrant small business community. Please contact us…we’re here to help.