When it comes to helping small businesses, cash is king. The best way to ensure that your local mom and pop bookstore or coffee shop stays in store is to shop there as much as possible.
But for those of us on a budget, extravagant shopping sprees aren't always an option. So let's take a look at some budget-friendly strategies to support your favorite small businesses.
Write positive reviews
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of my favorite local restaurants asked that customers leave positive reviews on Google and Yelp. Several people had recently left negative reviews complaining about the restaurant's mask policy. These negative reviews have dragged their rating average down.
I went online, left a five star review, and noticed that several other people had left positive reviews as well. Soon their average rating was higher than ever. Posting positive reviews can have a huge impact on a small business in attracting more visitors, especially if it's just opening.
If you want to support your favorite businesses without losing large amounts of money, leave a review on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. When you're reviewing a restaurant, you can also go to delivery apps like DoorDash, GrubHub, and PostMates to leave a review there too.
Search for the company on Google and see where it is listed, then post a review on as many of these platforms as possible. For example, if you bought a pair of earrings from a local manufacturer at a craft fair, find their Etsy website and leave a review.
Make sure to be descriptive and post pictures if possible. Encourage your friends, neighbors, and coworkers to leave reviews as well. At a time when many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat, a few positive reviews can make a world of difference.
Share on social media
The best way to buy something from a small business is to post a photo of the item and tag it on social media. This strategy can encourage your followers to look at the small business, follow them, and even buy something.
You can still try this out even if it has been weeks or months since your purchase. For example, if you bought a novel from your local bookstore, post a picture of you with a caption like, “I just finished this amazing book. Thanks to My Local Bookstore for always having my favorite authors in stock! "
Sometimes a company will even offer you a special coupon if you mark it so that you can save money on your next purchase. Not every company offers a discount, so don't expect any special reward, but from time to time you can get a nice surprise or thank you from the company.
Interact with their social media
Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram don't display posts in a linear order. They just display them by relevance. If Instagram thinks you don't like a post, you may not see it.
Unfortunately, social media algorithms can make it difficult for small businesses, especially new ones, to get new followers. It's much harder for them to advertise successfully if potential customers don't see their posts.
One of the best ways to help a small business for free is to interact with them through social media. Regular interaction with a company shows social media algorithms that their posts deserve to be shown to more people.
You can get involved by following the account, liking their posts, leaving a comment, tagging friends, watching their videos and much more. Find out which social channels your favorite business uses and follow them across all of these websites.
Mention this strategy to others because the more people get involved, the more traffic will be drawn to their posts.
Answer questions about the Google review
If you ever look at Google reviews, you might see questions from users about local businesses. Knowing the answer can help you answer the question and get more customers for this company. For example, if someone asks if a restaurant offers vegan starters, you can answer if you know the answer.
Answering these questions may seem trivial, but it spreads more information about the company and increases the likelihood of hesitant customers trying. At the very least, it can avoid unnecessary confusion that ultimately leads to a negative rating.
Buy gift vouchers
If you want to help small businesses but don't need anything right now, you can purchase a gift card that you can use later. Before doing this, make sure that your gift cards don't have a strict expiration date.
If you're shopping for a friend's bridal shower, birthday, or baby shower, consider getting them a small business gift certificate. With the holidays approaching, you can even implement this strategy with loved ones. They may even appreciate the chance to choose their own gift.
One of the best ways to help a small business is by volunteering. For example, if you're a graphic designer, you might ask if he has any design needs. Make it clear that you don't expect to get paid for your work, even though they may offer you a gift card or credit in exchange.
Sometimes you don't even need special skills. Recently, a local record store needed help moving boxes from its basement to a storage room. Anyone could come and help, and it was a free way to support the business.
How do you prefer to support small businesses? Let us know in the comments below!
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Zina Kumok (151 posts)
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance. As a former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four, and everything in between. It has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth, and Time. Read how she paid off $ 28,000 in student loans at Conscious Coins in three years.