Black-owned businesses have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, closing at twice the rate of other small businesses. For many, this holiday season will be a make or break moment, but the good news is that people want to help. At Facebook, for example, we launched a three-month long Season of Support to provide free resources, education and training to help businesses all over the world as well as #BuyBlack Friday in the US – harnessing the energy of the year’s biggest retail day to celebrate and support Black-owned businesses and their communities.
What can Black entrepreneurs do to make the most of this opportunity? Here are four tips for Black business owners who are looking to capitalize on this unique seasonal moment to close out 2020 with a bang.
1. Get connected with customers in an online community
Everything from events to social gatherings to shopping has moved online – and so have your most loyal customers. Creating an exclusive online group can be a great way to deliver a distinctive experience for them. La’Asia Johnson of Flint, Michigan, owner of Elle Jae Essentials, which creates and sells all natural skin care products, had to close her brick and mortar business during the pandemic and saw revenue drop by 70%. To avoid shutting down completely, she invested in ways to engage with her most loyal customers through a private Facebook Group called “The Garden.” L’Asia connects directly with them to brainstorm business ideas and help identify what products they’re most interested in. She credits The Garden for helping her drive online sales and weather the storm while her doors were closed. Looking to holiday, she’s tapping into the community – and customized virtual events through Facebook and Instagram – to launch her newest line of soy wax candles.
2. Help shoppers find Black-owned businesses like yours
It’s clear that people want to celebrate and support Black-owned businesses and their communities. Since March, more than 3.5 million people on Facebook in the U.S. have joined new groups created to support Black businesses they know and love. To help people discover and support even more businesses, Facebook recently introduced a way to self-designate your business as Black-owned. It’s as easy as going into your Page settings and updating your account. And Facebook will be featuring Black-owned businesses in Business Nearby helping connect more consumers to local small businesses during the crucial holiday season.
3. Provide continuity across digital channels
This holiday season we can expect for more physical shoppers to become digital shoppers. Knowing this, provide continuity across your various channels — ensuring shoppers who come to your website, Facebook page or other social channels are receiving the same information and messages to avoid confusion and increase sales.
4. Be you and share your story!
Shoppers care about the people behind the brand, so be yourself and share your story. The more your customers get to know you – the real you – the more they’ll want to support you and your business. Annette Njau, founder of House of Takura, is a great example of this. Like many small businesses, cash flow became a real issue early on in the pandemic. So Annette took to Facebook and Instagram to amplify the humanity of her brand. She shifted her marketing strategy to be less about putting her crossbody bags in front of people who were struggling and more about putting her and her family’s story out there for people to see and learn from. Once she began using these platforms to communicate the authenticity of her brand, Annette saw an uptick in business – and sold out of inventory over the summer. Seeing a greater interest from people to support Black-owned businesses, Annette recently started to use Facebook’s new self-designation tool and is seeing value in labeling her business as Black-owned, not only from a business standpoint, but also in supporting Black entrepreneurship overall.
By applying these tips, Black business owners can make the most of the holiday season in 2020. For even more holiday marketing strategies, check out the Holiday Unwrapped webinar from Facebook Elevate, as well as the other resources, trainings and mentorship circles it provides, and be sure to look for inspiration from fellow Black business owners in the #BuyBlack Friday Gift Guide.
Brandi Pitts is Global Head of Digital Marketing, Partnerships at Facebook.