11 Free Business Resources During COVID-19

11 FREE Tools Your Business Should Be Using During COVID-19

11 FREE Tools Your Business Should Be Using During COVID-19

Due to the increasing precautions and gathering restrictions throughout the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are experiencing digital growing pains.  Ideally, expanding an in-office position to a remote position would involve a gradual process for businesses and employees. This transition from office to remote work might include planning for necessary resources and employee training. However, over the last two weeks many companies have been scrambling to get their businesses running smoothly online within a short time frame in an effort to flatten the curve of the coronavirus. As a result, business owners are looking for new solutions and ways to run their businesses online.

In order to help guide our small businesses, we’ve compiled a list of 11 FREE tools to help your business during COVID-19:

 

VIRTUAL CONFERENCING:

The silver lining to quarantining is the expanding usage of video conferencing tools. Using one of the popular platforms listed below, you can gather multiple employees on one meeting call.  Simply set your meeting and share the URL in your calendar event. And for the best part? They’re FREE. Attendee and time limits exist for each platform and vary for each. Here’s a brief breakdown of the two most popular platforms: 

1.  Zoom.us

Zoom provides HD Video and audio to its users across a platform that is friendly on any device. Zoom can also be accessed from desktop or mobile. A free account with Zoom.us includes the following:

      • Up to 100 guests
      • Up to 40 minutes
      • Multiple screen sharing 
      • View all guests in grid view

2. Google Hangouts

Google-Hangouts-logo

Hangouts is a free tool for US and Canada that can be accessed within any existing Google account.  Don't have a Google account? Create a free gmail.com account to get started using both.

      • Up to 25 guests on video / 150 in Google Hangouts chat
      • Unlimited minutes 
      • Individual screen sharing (one at a time)
      • View 10 active participants in the bottom of the screen

 

MESSAGING:

3. Slack Messenger

slack-messenger-logo

Slack is an instant messaging tool that brings your company together and helps you to stay productive, regardless of location. Your business can save time with Slack by decreasing the need for back and forth emails and meetings to discuss and approve small tasks.  Additionally, Slack creates a more casual workplace that can be categorized with different channels to keep conversations organized.  Get started using Slack remotely with these tips. With the free version of Slack, you can:

      • 10k searchable messages
      • 10 apps and integrations
      • Two-factor authentication
      • No channel limits

 

VIDEO INSTRUCTION (COMMUNICATION):

4. VidYard

VidYard-logo

VidYard.com is an online video platform for users to create, house, and share video content. This resource is useful for marketing, instruction, and internal communication purposes. During the coronavirus pandemic, it more important than ever to stay connected not only via video conferencing, but also with on-demand videos and video messages. VidYard for Internal Communications is available for free through 6/30/20and includes the following features: 

      • Centralized administration of security policies, user provisioning, and content management 
      • End users can capture,share, and store unlimited videos via web-based extensions to Google Chrome, Outlook, and Gmail - no desktop software required
      • Access control to video content via Single Sign-On authentication
      • Password Protected or IP whitelisting for videos

 

ORGANIZATION/PROJECT MANAGEMENT:

5. Trello

trello-logo-full

Included in the Forbes.com 10 Essential Productivity Tools, Trello is a color-coded organization tool that is also user-friendly.  Manage projects from the board view, create to-do lists and editorial calendars, and plan SEO campaigns with many other options to explore. This visually appealing organization tool is a favorite!

 

DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT & SHARING:

6. Google Drive

google-drive-logo

If you’re not already using Google Drive, add this to the top of your to-do list for today! It is easy and free to begin - simply use your free Gmail.com email address to get started. Google Drive allows you to share + create documents to share with anyone. For instance, when you have access to working documents, multiple team members can work in the document at one time. This article provides some in-depth examples of how to integrate Google Drive into your business.

 

THE POST AND COURIER RESOURCES:

7. The Post and Courier’s COVID-19 Coverage 

With daily news updates and an updated South Carolina coverage map of the virus, The Post and Courier has you covered. We are working hard behind the scenes in Charleston, SC to keep you informed and to provide our readers with community updates in an effort to support our state and its businesses as we navigate this unprecedented time together.  Therefore, we are currently offering this COVID-19 News for free without subscription as a public service. 

the-post-and-courier-covid19-news

 

8. The Post and Courier COVID-19 Business Guide

We are here to help our businesses and community connect! The Post and Courier has launched a new COVID-19 Business Guide as a free service! This guide provides a place for businesses to provide their updated hours, location, current deals, or send a kind message to the community. Follow this link and submit your information for free!

Post-and-courier-covid19-business-guide-page

 

9. The Post and Courier Dining Guide

Looking for some curb-side dinner options? In addition to the COVID-19 landing page, we are gathering and providing an active list of local Charleston food & beverage businesses that are open and providing take-out options. We’re here to help you support our local restaurant industry! Send us your restaurant's info here!

Post-and-courier-coronavirus-dining-guide

 

10. Marketing Your Business in a Time of Crisis:  A Free Webinar with The Post and Courier + Evening Post Newspapers 

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed the marketing landscape for businesses. As a result, The Post and Courier wants to provide useful marketing resources for our clients. Join us for a live webinar as we host renowned marketing experts to discuss how to manage your marketing in a time of crisis. Reserve your free seat here!

Facebook Webinar Ad

 

11. The Post and Courier Marketing Blog 

As the coronavirus crisis extends further into 2020, The Post and Courier Advertising division is dedicated to providing your businesses with useful blogs full of information and virtual events as an additional free resource.  We're discussing important topics like social media trends,  email marketing strategies, sponsored events updates, and more.

post-and-courier-advertising-blog

 

 

 

Sticky Notes: A Customizable Advertising Solution

Sticky Notes:  A Customizable Advertising Solution

As we look for efficient ways to market businesses via print methods in the year 2020 and beyond, Sticky Notes can be an effective resource that provides a quick read with a lasting reference. Although it may feel like an all-digital world, 81% of customers like brands to communicate coupons and offers in both print and digital in order to not miss out on savings.  

Moreover, 60% say seeing an offer in both print and online makes them more likely to make a purchase. These eye-catching coupons take immediate attention from the newspaper reader on the front page, which is rare real estate. Sticky notes are sometimes a company’s only opportunity to appear in such a prime spot. 

How can Sticky Notes be a smart investment & marketing solution? Not only are these fun stickers customizable and double-sided, but they also have a tendency to travel. Because of their design, Sticky Notes frequently move from newspaper to refrigerator and then (hopefully) into the wallet of a client, leaving a direct impression and feeling of exclusivity.

On the front page, there is no competition with other ads. Sticky Notes deliver high visibility and an immediate impact. Adding newspapers to a campaign boosts ROI by nearly 3 times, on average!

Ask yourself, “What are your company’s primary methods for gauging effectiveness of the advertising sales?” If the answers include increased customers, sales, and traffic, this would be a useful solution for you.

Ask your sales representative how your company can get involved - fill out the form below and our team will be in touch with you promptly!

Let’s chat about customizable marketing solutions:

The Benefits of Newsletter Sponsorship

Newsletter sponsorship is an advertising opportunity not all businesses consider, and can come with some unique advantages. This branch of email marketing allows you to get in front of dedicated audiences that trust the source. You can use that trust and brand loyalty to your advantage to grow your own audience.

A prime spot to advertise

So why do users subscribe to newsletters in the first place? The most common reason is that the user doesn’t want to miss anything from the company. Between news updates, sales, or events, a newsletter offers valuable information delivered to an inbox. Users don’t need to dig through the clutter of the internet.

It’s this very idea of avoiding the clutter that makes advertisements in email newsletters so valuable. People get bombarded with ads on many sites that they visit today. It can certainly be cheap and affordable to purchase a small ad spot on a website. That space is unlimited and always available.

But newsletter sponsorship provides premium brand placement that locks in the reader’s attention. This ensures you aren’t competing with a dozen other ads on the same page of content.

Readers have a positive perception of sponsors

As with any sponsorship opportunity, the perception audiences take away from your ad is typically more positive than a traditionally placed advertisement. 

Depending on how highly the reader thinks of the company delivering the newsletter (being subscribed to a newsletter in the first place means they probably like the company), they are likely to see your sponsorship as a sort of endorsement.

Consumers are becoming more aware of these types of B2B relationships thanks to things like social influencers and podcasts. But the effect trusted endorsements have on audiences is still powerful. 

When the reader trusts the source, like New York Times newsletter readers do, they are much more likely to spend time and money invested in what they’re reading in their inbox.

Block the ad blockers

With more than 615 million devices out there using some form of ad blocking software, strategies need to be built around this. While technologies are being applied to detect and work around ad blockers, email sponsorship is a strong way to ensure you’re appearing in front of the audience you pay to reach.

Of course, a popular approach to avoiding being blocked is to create native content pieces to market yourself online. This remains effective, and resonates well with younger audiences, but it does take up either more time or money from a marketing campaign.

If you already have a digital advertising campaign created, including artwork and trackable links, you can simply take that content and adapt it to a newsletter sponsor spot. Sometimes the work might even be as easy as providing your logo to be placed under the newsletter’s logo with a “sponsored by” tag.

Find the right audience

Some organizations offer a variety of newsletter topics to their audience, allowing you additional targeting tools. 

A company with a large, dedicated audience will likely have a few different newsletters to sponsor. This means that the user respects the organization and trusts it as their go-to source for information on a certain topic. They chose that company over another dedicated entirely to that topic.

At The Post and Courier, we are launching a newsletter focused on South Carolina military updates. This Military Digest newsletter opens up new targeted opportunities to reach an audience that craves military news and content. 

The benefits of being a sponsor for content like this are unique to broad appeal newsletters. The open rates will likely be higher percentages than general newsletters since the readers are specifically seeking out that content. This means they will also have higher trust in the content of the email. This makes your brand stand out even more.

How to Promote your Award-Winning Success

Award season in Charleston is upon us and we wanted to help winning businesses highlight their success. The Charleston community nominated and voted for the top businesses in a variety of categories. Now is the time for you to highlight your honors and give your business the extra boost that awards can provide.

Here in Charleston, customers are always on the lookout for Charleston’s Choice honors, as it shows a business is the best of the best. And this goes for all types of awards any business might be recognized for. Let your community know you’ve been recognized through these branding and promotional strategies.

Brag in your email marketing

You’ll want to make sure that you’re bragging about your award everywhere you can. Emails are a great place for that. You can make specialized emails focused on your award. Or simply add in the honors to your existing communications.

If you have a regular newsletter, dedicate a special edition to announcing the honors. Make an event out of it and catch subscribers’ attention by detailing how and why you won.

What makes your customer relations the best in the business? Why is your business the top tourist hotspot? Awards carry prestige by nature. But customers want to know just why you’re the best.

This is also a good place to start incorporating the award logo into your branding. This would be temporary and wouldn’t be applicable in all branding locations, so there’s no need to rework your logo. So find the best way to pair your logo with the award branding and place that naturally in your emails. Have employees update their signatures to include that your business is an award winner.

Show off the award with pride

Take advantage of this time to promote your award in the digital and physical space. SEM campaigns can show web searchers that you are a business worth looking into. And traditional web page ads catch the attention of audiences in your area, if you are employing geomarketing capabilities.

Businesses with a customer-facing storefront will have an easy time showing off their award. On-location signage promotes your success to all potential customers or clients. 

But businesses located within a large office complex in their own suite don’t have the opportunity to flaunt as much. Local billboards are a good substitute and open you up for even greater reach.

If physical ads by the side of the highway aren’t your thing, you should at least be showing off your victory on your website and social media pages. Update your website’s hero image and fancy up your homepage for a few weeks to celebrate. Maybe even run a contest to show you want to celebrate with your customers, not just tell them how great you are.

Other benefits of winning awards

If you haven’t gotten your business entered into awards, consider the added benefits outside of attracting new business. The prestige of being an award-winning organization affects all aspects of business.

Awards can bring growth to your business internally as well. It’s not always about showing off the award to the public. Current staff will be able to take pride in the work they do and the company they belong to. It’s an opportunity for a great boost in company morale. So even just putting up the award logo around the office can have great effects.

The celebration events for the awards themselves can also be a great opportunity for employees of winning businesses. Award parties can be a place to network with other winning businesses and build new business relationships.

Our Charleston’s Choice celebration brings together local businesses and gives them a chance to show the community why they were selected for the top honors. Restaurants and beverage companies can share their award winning creations with attendees.

There is always value in building your face-to-face engagement with your community. Event sponsorships can enable you to directly reach your community and professional peers. It is a great way to build your brand image.

Signs, advertisements and published announcements are the wide-reaching way to show off your accomplishment. But, an event sponsorship gives you a more intimate way to connect with potential customers or partners.

Finally, it should go without saying that a little time to unwind does wonders for everyone.

 

Website Redesign

5 Reasons it’s Time for a Website Redesign

A website is every business’ online front door. It’s the first thing people see when they arrive at your doorstep looking for more information about your products and/or services. Once your site loads, it takes .5 seconds for users to form an opinion about your overall brand. Needless to say, you need to make sure your website is visually pleasing and provides a quality user experience from the get-go.
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