This time of year, marketers usually begin posting all of their year-end wrap-ups and trend prediction posts. Were there any good things from 2020?
I guess that’s why we haven’t seen much of that this year.
After all, who wants to see any sort of summary article on the train wreck, dumpster fire this year has been for most of us, our chamber members and our communities?
And even if you didn’t mind a wrap-up post, who wants to leverage any predictions for 2021?
Very few of us.
But we have to start looking toward something. When I talk to chamber pros they want to help their businesses but they’re not sure how.
Let’s talk about three GOOD THINGS people did in 2020 and how we can use these ideas to help businesses in our community survive–and eventually–thrive.
3 GOOD THINGS from 2020 and the Hot Trends They Predict for 2021
With lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders, there were a lot of things we didn’t do but also some we did and enjoyed!
These activities and good things that happened in 2020 can become the basis for some successful programming in the new year.
If you haven’t thought about them already, you might want to.
Here are 3 good things from 2020 to leverage.
Then we’ve listed additional posts with detailed “how-tos” and specific ideas related to these topics at the end of the article.
Although there were plenty of jokes about the COVID 15 (pounds), many of us turned to exercise as a way to cope with the stress.
Others looked into natural medicine to calm and soothe.
Some took up outdoor hobbies that made it next to impossible to find things like bikes, kayaks, fishing rods, trampolines, and other sporting equipment at stores.
But at the same time people were turning to these sporting hobbies, gyms were closed and many such businesses struggled to get their patrons to subscribe to online classes.
So how can the chamber help this industry and its members?
Here are a few ideas.
- Host a wellness fair. Whether you do it online or in person, with the pandemic, people are thinking more and more about what it means to take care of themselves. Invite personal trainers, alternative medicine practitioners, nutritionists, and other wellness gurus to set up booths (in-person or virtually). You can allow them to present or give demonstrations in the pursuit of attracting new clients.
- Host a panel discussion on aging. The hardest-hit demographic for the pandemic were those in nursing homes and eldercare. Even active lifestyle communities over 55 were forced to take very strict precautions. Because of that, many older people struggled with severe loneliness and depression. Some even died alone. With aging Baby Boomers being such a large percentage of the population, it’s important to have conversations about aging. Call in local medical practitioners and other leaders to talk about the struggles and what this means for your community.
- Share tips on social media. We all could use a little balance between work/life, managing stress, and other wellness concerns these days. You can share tips to help your community and your members by asking members of the wellness profession to give their advice. You could even ask some of them to guest blog for you or provide a “Fitness Friday” 3-minute exercise video that someone could do in their home office while waiting for their call to begin.
Maybe it’s a safety issue, maybe you can’t get into a store, maybe people feel more comfortable shopping from home or maybe none of us really feel like putting on nice clothes and going out any more.
Either way, we’re doing more online shopping. A lot more.
Some of your members are ready for that, but many aren’t. They don’t know where to start. They don’t feel like they have the techie knowledge to build an online store. And they are overwhelmed by everything else and don’t have a spare moment.
The chamber can help by:
- Hosting webinars on online selling from set-up to best practices. Put together webinars for all technology comfort levels. Don’t forget to include helping people sell on social media. There are a lot of businesses that are selling through their Facebook pages. Their audience is likely already there.
- Sharing social media posts. If possible, make sure you follow your members. Share what they share. Broaden their reach. Tag them in photos and posts that fit what they do. For instance, if you’re posting about toys for kids, tag your toy stores so they can add their comments or specials.
- Bringing shoppers together. You likely have a bigger audience than most of your members do. Share your audience by creating a “shop from the couch” event online. Give vendors slotted times to share what they’re selling or what specials they’re running. Give people the information they need to buy right away. Don’t make them call the business the next day.
- Hosting VIP shopping events. Since smaller is better these days, you can host a VIP shopping event for a small group. You can create urgency to register since it will fill up. You could also create a theme like a “Girls Night Out” with wine as they shop or a “Procrastinator’s Party” guaranteed to help you find the perfect, last-minute gift.
Yes, most people are starting to get the message of how important it is to spend money at local establishments as they watched many of them close their doors and not reopen. In fact, even some larger businesses that may have taken umbrage from previous calls to shop local now understand that many of these businesses don’t have the cushion that larger companies do and that they need our help.
In addition to the shop local campaign, there are individual things the chamber can do like:
- Encourage people to support local businesses in a variety of ways not just making purchases. There are many free ways to show support like sharing the social media love by giving a shout-out to a favorite local business or leaving a review for them online.
- Create a contest for shopping local. Some chambers have created bingo cards or “passports.” Shoppers who fill them in receive a discount, special product, or get entered in to win a special prize
- Sell a local bag or basket. Ask local shops to become a part of an “Our City Bag,” which brings together sample products and would be sold for a flat fee. This increases exposure for a lot of small stores as each store could add a business card or tag so customers would know where to buy refills or other products. These “samplers” are very popular just like the monthly subscription services. Helping to put something together like this means more exposure for everyone. You could also do a special holiday gift basket for local foods. These would make wonderful gifts for locals or those who miss their home town. For example, the Pennsylvania General Store has a Philadelphia Care Package. Tasty Kakes anyone?
- Tell small business stories. As much as we wished our calls for stories would be answered, some businesses just don’t feel up to it. They’re not sure what to say and their stories end up sounding like a commercial. That doesn’t help anyone. You might need to interview them and find the story yourself. You’re looking for that special sparkle that will make other people fall in love with them. Sometimes you know what it is right away. Other times, you need to get them talking about something they feel passionately about to be able to uncover it. Once you do, tell it in writing or through video. Encourage sharing by reminding people that if they enjoy this business, it needs their help sharing its story.
These ideas may not seem within the scope of the chamber and in the past, they may have been activities you would’ve labeled “outside of our strategic plan” but these days our businesses are struggling. What worked in the past isn’t necessarily working the way it once did. The community must get creative with its solutions and find a way to get the attention of the audience in ways it previously hadn’t.
Additional Resources to Leverage the Good Things in 2020:
- 20 Health and Wellness Events Ideas for Your Chamber of Commerce
- 9 Easy & Fun Wellness Event Ideas for Chambers
- 20 Chamber “Lunch and Learn” Topics for the Digital Age
- Helping Skeptics Adopt Chamber Tech (aimed at board members, but useful for helping members too)