2020 has presented unprecedented challenges for businesses. COVID-19 has forced most to change their strategies online and adapt to a growing digital landscape. While some have been able to stay afloat, others have not been as successful and many have had to close their doors permanently as a result. Black-owned businesses have been disproportionately affected by the global pandemic. In the U.S, 26% of black-owned businesses closed their doors permanently between February and May 2020, compared to 11% of white-owned businesses. That’s why this holiday season, HubSpot is joining Google, US Black Chambers, Inc., and other companies participating in Black Owners Friday – an initiative to boost visibility and support for black-owned businesses. I spoke with Gianne Doherty, founder of Organic Bath Co., to learn more about what businesses and consumers can do to support black-owned businesses this holiday season. Below are some thoughts he offered during our conversation.
How to Support Black-Owned Businesses
1. Tell someone about a business or product.
Doherty began by saying that the simplest way to support black-owned businesses during the holiday season is to inform people about their products. When you buy something great or get a good deal, please tell a friend. Online customer reviews are great, but a one-on-one interaction is often the best way to convince someone to review a business or product that they love. If you don’t know of any black-owned businesses in your area, Doherty recommends heading to Google and doing a quick search. There are many resources that can direct you to a black-owned business in your area, one of which is the Official Black Wall Street Directory. He also proposed searching social media sites to find black-owned businesses online. For example, if you search for “#BlackOwnedBusiness” on Twitter, you can find many accounts run by black business owners; liking, reposting, and sharing your content is also a great way to support these businesses.
2. Refer clients to black-owned businesses.
Word of mouth marketing is incredibly important for small businesses, especially if you operate in a B2B environment. Doherty noted that customer referrals have a huge impact on purchasing decisions, because customers will trust the recommendations of others more than their brand ads. If you have the opportunity this holiday season, refer a black-owned business to your clients or colleagues and help promote your brand. Doherty also emphasized the importance of focusing on the value of the products and services you are referring to, and not just the fact that they are owned by blacks. After all, “buy black or buy small does not mean lower quality”, as she put it. By making a reference, Doherty encouraged people to highlight the benefits of the product or service along with the fact that they have been created by people who have been historically underfunded.
3. Buy early during the holidays.
The holidays are already a busy time for small businesses, and COVID-19 has made it even more difficult to keep up with customer demand. In the U.S, 99% of minority-owned businesses are small businesses, which means many don’t have their own shipping operations like Amazon or Walmart. Most small businesses in the United States use the United States Postal Service (USPS) to ship their products, which can lead to delays as orders pile up over the holidays. Doherty recommends that customers try to purchase their products early in the holiday season to avoid potential problems that can occur with shipping.
4. Be patient with small businesses.
In addition to buying early, Doherty also noted that customers will need to be a little more patient with small businesses this year. The holidays are already busy and now, with COVID-19, many companies are still learning how to adapt their marketing, sales and customer service strategies. There are likely to be some new hurdles to address this year, and clients should be patient with small businesses as they work to overcome those challenges. Black-owned businesses have already seen an increase in customer demand this year as searches for black-owned businesses increased by more than 7,000% between May and July. Unfortunately, this growth has rejected ever since, creating a greater need for buyers to support black-owned businesses during the holidays. While it’s wonderful to see a sudden spark of interest during the summer, Doherty encouraged buyers to continually support black-owned businesses throughout the year and not just when it’s hot.
5. Partner with black-owned businesses.
If you are a business owner, one way you can partner with black-owned businesses is through promotional campaigns. Doherty, for example, has partnered with other black-owned businesses to run sweepstakes. She will give away another brand’s product, while that brand will give away one of their own. This is a great way for each company to raise awareness about the other among their customer bases. Here’s an example from your company’s Instagram page, where it partnered with two other black-owned beauty brands to give away products.
6. Buy from black-owned businesses.
At the end of the day, the best way to support black-owned businesses is to buy their products. Doherty said, “We are voting with our dollars.” The companies we spend our money on will grow and prosper. If we don’t consciously shop at black-owned businesses, we will continue to lose them at a disproportionate rate. If you really want to support black-owned businesses this year, go out and buy one of their products and tell a friend about them too. These are just a few of the ideas Gianne Doherty wanted to share for Black Friday. We hope it brings attention to black-owned businesses, especially those that have been significantly affected by COVID-19. If you are an African American business owner and looking for ways to optimize your visibility this season, here are some resources from Google that can help you reach new customers.
How To Get Support If You Are A Black Business Owner
Here are three things Google recommends doing if you are a black business owner. Add your business to ByBlack Directory of US Black Chambers, Inc.. You can add your ad and become part of the community for free. Highlight that your business is owned by blacks on your Google business profile. By adding the black ownership attribute, you will stand out among customers searching for your business on Google Search and Maps. Here’s how to get started.
Get free advice to help your business reach new customers, prosper online, and grow. Grow with Google Digital Coaches provided dedicated support for African American and Latino small businesses.