Are you tired of the words “new normal” yet?

If you’re like most business owners, you probably are. But whether we recognize it as a new shift in how we do business or a temporary tack we take to survive the current economic storm, the point is how you do business has to change if you want to continue to connect to your audience.

9 Ways You Should Change How You’re Marketing During and After COVID

Give up One-size-fits-all for Good
Customizing your approach to your target market has never been more important than during COVID-19. People want to hear from you and they want to feel like you understand them. But if you’re sending out a generic marketing message to everyone they’re not going to feel that.

Get Social
This is a fantastic time to increase your social media presence and begin having (more) conversations. A lot of people are struggling right now. Providing inspiration as well as commenting on their posts will make them feel good. That’s a way to make a big impression on your audience.

That doesn’t mean you need to comment hours on end. Pick a small group of people who are active on social media and engage them in conversation. Start there then expand. Good people to consider conversing with are your most loyal customers or industry influencers.

Not sure where to start? Look for local groups that you can become a part of. Be careful to follow posting guidelines and be helpful, not salesy. Provide information to people and plug other businesses (not in competition with you). They’ll likely do the same.

Focus on What You’re Doing for Safety and Convenience
It’s very important if you’re changing anything for safety or convenience that you market what you’re doing. Otherwise, your audience won’t know. If you changed how you’re doing business to make it easier for people to buy from you, communicate that as well.

Look for Kinks in the Customer Experience
Many businesses have changed how they do business. Some are doing curbside pickups or making customers wait in the car until the business is ready for them. Think about how those things have changed the customer experience and how you can alleviate any inconveniences. For instance, if you require customers to call you when they are outside your business, consider putting up a sign in the parking lot with your phone number. It sounds like just another expense but for the customer who pulls in and then has to look up your phone number, it’s very helpful. The sign is also a branding opportunity for you.

Provide Reassurance
Whether you feel it or not, spreading a good message that helps people feel reassured and cared for every time they read your content will help you stand out in the market. There is a lot of doom and gloom out there. Don’t be a part of it.

Move Your Brand Online
Just as this is the ideal time to increase your social media conversations, it’s also a great time to work on your online branding and user experience. Revamp your website, rework your content, and look for ways you can improve the online buying experience. If you don’t currently sell online, you should consider it.

Teach Online
Is there some knowledge you possess that can help your customers? It could be product or industry related or you could have a conversation on how to make a buying decision for your product or service. Hosting webinars or an e-learning class is a great way to get out in front of your audience and provide value at the same time.

Share Your Hobbies
A lot of people are feeling disconnected with COVID. Consider creating a podcast or video meeting once a month (or more frequently if it works for your audience) to discuss or teach a favorite hobby of yours. You might be surprised how many people respond to seeing a different side of you.

Your hobby needn’t be associated with your business. The point here is to create a connection. You may want to consider bringing other people who enjoy the hobby onto your “show” for added entertainment.
Some businesses have created a virtual happy hour, for instance, where they talk about how to make artisanal cocktails with a new cocktail featured each episode. You could do something like that even if you’re not in the hospitality industry. The point here is to show your passion to your audience and connect with those who share the same.

Infuse Your Communications with Empathy
Now is not the time to showcase a cold, impartial corporate image. Instead, look for ways you can show empathy to your clients or customers and share your humanity. Consumers want to do business with people they know, like, and trust. Empathy helps with all of those.

Some businesses have changed the types of things they sell or services they offer. Maybe your business is doing fine during COVID. Whether you’ve been wildly successful, or you had to pivot your offerings, changing your marketing to reflect the changes in business is essential and will make you much more successful in the future.

While none of us wanted a disruption like this one, ultimately the changes that are occurring could have benefits. They may end up helping businesses apply better focus on the needs of their customers, increasing loyalty, and creating a win for businesses, employees, and customers.

Six months into the COVID and we’re all still trying to figure out what’s going on. Should masks be required? Will kids be going back to school? Do we need goggles?

But what we do know is that a lot of customers are still concerned about their health and the health of those around them. Because of that, there are several things you should be doing (and marketing) in your business.

First, it’s not only important to change business processes to help ease customers’ worries over safety but it’s equally important to make sure that you tell customers and market what you’re doing. You’re changing how you do business. Make sure your customers know what you’re doing.

Offer Cashless Checkouts
This goes beyond encouraging usage of cards. Cashless, contactless checkouts that use apps like digital wallet programs instead of providing a card mean less exchange between your employees and the customer. While not every one of your customers will feel comfortable or use this technology, for those who do, they will appreciate the opportunity.

Auto-open Doors
These days people don’t want to touch a doorknob. Ideally, you would install auto-open doors, but this is not always feasible. You can also install foot openers or swinging doors for a less expensive solution. At the very least, change out the doorknobs so that people can work them with an elbow, not need to turn a knob. Customers do not feel comfortable touching/turning surfaces right now. Make it easier on them.

Make Room
Social distancing/maintaining 6-foot distance is important to customer safety and well-being but you should also look at ways to work on flow and congestion in your place of business. Few people recognize the one-way aisles you’ve stickered the floor with. Instead, look at your cash register/payment area. If your register is at the end of an aisle, look at how you might put it in an area that would be more convenient and make it less congested. Watch traffic patterns and notice where things naturally crowd up. Make arrangements to adjust the flow.

Also, if you have an item that most people are interested, a big seller or the reason a lot of your customers come in, place it in an easy-to-access spot. In times of no-COVID, you’d likely want them to walk through your business to get it but not now. Make it as easy as possible to get the item quickly.
If you decide signs would help direct traffic flow, make them humorous. In most businesses, there’s a lot going on, including a lot of visual stimulation. Regular signs will blend in and people won’t take notice of them. Don’t believe that? Go to Walmart. That place is peppered with signs that no one reads.

Maintain Great Customer Service
If you have the staff, consider creating points of less contact and offer to get things for people visiting your business. It may mean less impulse buying by your customers, but it will make them feel more secure.

Show Them the Wipes
Don’t make any customers wonder if you’re wiping everything down. Make sure you are. Let them see you doing it. While you needn’t follow them around and wipe every surface the minute they walk by, do let them see you wiping down display areas, doors, and other often-touched spots and products.

Don’t Put It Back Directly
When someone takes something from the shelf and changes their mind before purchasing it, have a very visible wipe down pile that will be sanitized before being returned to a public spot. If your business uses kiosks or touch screens accessible to the public, consider placing a staff member there to operate them for the customer. Doing so will ensure fewer touches on your equipment.

COVID precautions are a fluid subject these days. This is a good start to make your customers feel safer and more secure in doing business with you now. But make sure you inform potential customers of all the extra things you’re doing so they can appreciate your efforts. They will do business with you and they’ll tell their friends and family as well.

If your business isn’t bringing in the revenue you’d like and you’ve tried different discounts and purchase options, it may be time to consider what the business world is now referring to as a “side hustle.” For purposes of this article, we’re not going to cover starting a new business but rather creating a side hustle or an alternative revenue stream for your existing business. Here’s how you can do that.

7 Ideas for a Successful Side Hustle

1. Add Goods to Services or Services to Goods
What do you sell? Do you sell goods or services? If you sell goods consider a service you might add. On the other hand, if you sell services, figure out if there is a good you can create? Think about Ikea or Amazon. They both sell goods that require assembly and now they also offer an assembly service for which they charge. If you currently sell a service, you can create a book or online product that can help your ideal customer.

2. Make Your Customer’s Life Easier
Is there something you can change in your business that would save your customer time or make it easier to buy from you? For instance, a local liquor store now offers delivery because they saw a need among their customers for an easier way to purchase from them.

3. Build Expertise
If there’s something that you are well-versed in, you may be able to charge for your expertise. There are many ways to do this like charging to speak in front of a group or charging an additional fee for special training. This last revenue stream is one that’s common in tech companies. They sell different levels of training packages for their software products.

4. Create a One-Stop
Is there something your customers naturally use with your product or service? Or is there some component in their life that you could work with? For instance, you’ll often see food trucks in front of large hardware stores like Home Depot. The reason for this is that people who are working on home projects don’t have time to stop for food. However, if it’s right there as they walk in the door, they are more likely to purchase.

That doesn’t mean as a hardware store owner you need to diversify into food trucks. But you could create a partnership between you and the local food truck operator. You could charge them rent to be parked in front of your space or ask them for a share of the profits they make. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement for you, the food truck operator, and your customers.

5. Monetize Your Blog and Social Media
If you have a strong following on your blog or social media accounts, you may be able to leverage that for additional income. Marketers for companies that are looking to get in front of your customer base may pay you for ads on your site, guest blog posts, or access to your social media following.

In order to be seen as a viable partner for these marketers, you’ll need a large following and one that interacts with you on a regular basis. Marketers these days are not just looking for numbers. They also want to see that you can drive action among your followers.

6. Create a Referral Network
Are there businesses that you work with on a regular basis? if so, you may be able to leverage that relationship into a referral network partnership. Some businesses may even be willing to create affiliate agreements with you for referring them business. For example, if you have a content creation business where you charge clients to create video and articles for other websites, you may be able to partner with a website designer or agency that will give you a portion of every design project you refer to them.

This can be an excellent way to increase your revenue and to test out an area you’ve been considering going into yourself.

7. Test a New Platform or Point of Entry
If you sell goods, there are a lot of options out there for you beyond a brick-and-mortar location or your own website. In addition to these outlets, many businesses are opting to sell on third-party sites such as Etsy, eBay, and Amazon. While these sites do take a portion of your sale as a sort of finder’s fee, you have to remember that they have very large audiences and you may be able to get in front of a different demographic on these sites than what you’re able to in your store or on your website.

If you are not making the revenue you want to these days, in addition to exploring different markets and introducing a new product, you may be able to boost revenue through a side hustle or additional revenue stream. Most of these can be launched with very little effort but can change the face of your business.

You likely have heard the phrase, “you need to spend money to make money.” I’m not here to argue that from either side but digital marketing has allowed businesses with very small budgets to make a big impression. While it hasn’t exactly leveled the playing field, it certainly has helped businesses gain a larger audience with very little investment.

Most of these tools and strategies are free. But it’s important to note that when it comes to social media or online advertising, you will have to spend some money. In these situations, it’s best to create a very targeted audience for the strongest return on investment. After all, Facebook and other online platforms are very happy to take your money. But if you tell them exactly who it is you want to place your message in front of, you will spend less of it and achieve greater click-throughs.

4 Tools and Tips to Gain a Larger Audience Through Minimal Investment

Before we get into the tools and tips for better marketing on a small budget, it’s important to layout the assumptions. We are assuming you have a website and social media profiles on the platforms your target market visits most frequently. If you don’t, those are the first things you need to secure.

Also included in this list at the end of each tip or tool is advice on things to do later. These items require a little more investment but should be on your To Do List when you have additional money or are drawing up your next budget.

Now let’s get back to that list.


What do people use to search for you? What phrases and questions might they ask to find a business like yours? Incorporate these into your web copy. The top keywords and phrases you want to place for should be used in prominent spots on your website such as headers and titles.

But don’t stop there.

Make sure that these words as well as the cities and areas you serve are used throughout your web copy. Write articles around these phrases as well.

If you have a website, you can go make this change now in a few minutes and then brainstorm ways you’ll create content around those words, phrases, and questions.

Thing to do later: redesign your website with a professional writer or SEO expert who can make the most of your web copy to bring in more interested potential customers and increase your organic rankings.

Call to Action 

This is probably one of the most commonly overlooked ways to improve your sales. When people are reading your posts or content and they’ve gotten to the end, they have spent time with you. Unless they are related to you or they owe you a lot of money, to make it that far shows interest. Capitalize on that by asking something of them.

Your call to action should fit the stage of the sales cycle they are in. For instance, if someone is checking out your about page they generally are just finding out about you and want to know more. Ending your about page with a “buy now” button Is probably a little premature. On the other hand, ending a demo video with a buy now call to action is not.

Thing to do later: Track and test your calls to action. Words, fonts, colors, sizes, buttons, and locations all feed into a person’s likelihood to follow the call to action. Test these things by creating multiple ways to format the same call to action. Analyze your data to see which are your most effective. 


A blog is a great way to allow your audience to get to know you on a more personal level. It’s also the perfect way to tell your business story and allow it to evolve over time. It provides a way to let your personality shine through encouraging people to do business with you.

Keep in mind blog posts should have calls to action as well.

Thing to do later: create a written solution to your customer’s biggest problem. Use it as a lead magnet to increase sales.

Explanation and Framing

While you are reworking website copy, make sure you use some copyrighting skills. One of the many “tricks of the trade” is explaining why your company is the best. Then, use that reason to shape the best buying practices. For instance, if you provide Solution A in your business, create content around how Solution A is the only way to get the best solution.

Marketing your business doesn’t have to be expensive. Now is the ideal time to use some of these inexpensive practices to grow your audience and establish know, like, and trust to improve sales.

Hello neighbors! It has been a little crazy here in the office this week. Our door’s have been a little revolving, but I am loving it! It means you all have needs and that I can help! We have notary services, copying, printing, rental of equipment. We can help you design flyers, social media posts, and get your name out there. We help find you grants, seminars, and webinars. Most importantly, we care. We care about your success and the success of our communities. If there is anything that we can do to help you all, please stop by, give a shout, or send an email. We are here for you!

This week, we have some exciting news that The Legacy of Herington has joined our Chamber of Commerce! I had the privilege of touring their facility and they have so many things to offer. They are a skilled nursing facility with the addition of assisted living apartments! They are dedicated to giving quality care, respect, independence, and affordability to their residents. We are so excited to help them achieve their goals and to begin this partnership with them! Thank you, Legacy of Herington!

There are a few events coming up in the Tri-County Area. This weekend, there is a couple’s golf tournament at Herington Country Club at 1 pm. Backroads Gifts & Apparel is having a HUGE sale on Sunday, Sept 29th online! There will be a variety of women’s & kid’s apparel, so make sure you follow them on Facebook to catch the mega savings!

Discovery Child Care Learning Center is hiring! They need a full-time teacher’s aide & a substitute. If you, or someone you know is on the lookout, please call 785-258-2121 to inquire! Recently, we sent out a hiring newsletter for the job openings in the Tri-County Area. It seemed to have been a big hit! We are going to continue that for you all. Make sure you don’t miss it on our website or on our Facebook page.

Take care, Tri-County!

Hello neighbors!
We are back into the swing of things after a fun filled fishing derby. We lucked out with incredible weather and a great turn out. Cameron Howe won medals for the first fish, the most fish, and the smallest fish! Laken Weber won a medal for the biggest fish! Congratulations to the two winners and to all the kids that came out and fished their hearts out! It was amazing for us to see the smiles on the families’ faces. Putting on these events takes more than just our office to achieve. We want to thank Gordon’s Guns, The Herbal Emporium, L&J Tires, the LIFE program through USD 487 and First Choice Meats. Their commitment to helping our communities flourish is what keeps us going and we are proud to have them!
This weekend, VFW Post 1281 is having a POW MIA Meal for all active duty service members and veterans. It will be at 3 pm at 101 E Main St. Herington, KS 67449. Also, the Herington Fireworks Committee is having a cornhole tournament at North Park at 9:30 am. Registration is $20 per team. Simply Savvy Creations will be hosting “Kids Art in the Park” for $5 per kid. All the proceeds will go to the Herington Fireworks 2020 Display.
Next weekend, the 28th, VFW Post 1281, American Legion Post 12, and Hope American Legion 365 are joining forces! Join them at VFW Post 1281 for coffee and donuts. This event is for all veterans and spouses to discuss what veteran organizations have to offer.
Don’t forget to sign up for the grant writing workshop for November 13. Kansas State Research and Extension is partnering with us, here at the Chamber to teach you all about grants and it’s vital piece in your community’s funding puzzle. The registration fee is $20 and can be paid to Renae Riedy at KState. The deadline to register is October 23, 2019, so don’t miss out!
I hope you have a fabulous week! Take good care, Tri-County!

I hope you all have had an amazing week! As I’m still trying to get my seat warmed up here at the Chamber, I’ve been excited to see and meet all of you. I’ve got to tell you, you all have amazing ideas and I cannot wait to see what we can make come true! So, please, keep the ideas coming!

This week, the Herington AdHoc Community Improvement Effort will be doing some spring cleaning in Father Padilla Park around the spring and waterway. If anyone is looking for any volunteer work, this is an amazing opportunity to get out and make your community shine brighter and brighter. So gather up your tools, boots, and positive vibes and head over to the park on Thursday, May 30 from 1 pm!

From June 1-June 20, Smart Insurance is collecting fun and cool bandages for Noah’s Bandage Project. Noah Wilson was diagnosed with cancer in April of 2014 (when he was only 6 years old), but never let it change his passion to help others. He always had a huge heart, and was constantly looking for ways to help people. His love for others did not change even when he was facing a devastating diagnosis. When his treatment began, he found himself getting pokes almost daily. The hospital where he was being treated did not have cool bandages, leaving the children there having to settle for the boring brown ones. Noah saw this as an opportunity to help his fellow patients, and decided that he wanted to start collecting cool and fun bandages for his new friends. You see, Noah knew that a bandage is so much more than just a wound cover and wanted to help others see how awesome a cool and fun bandage could be. Noah’s Bandage Project has two goals – 1) to help provide cool and fun bandages to kids that need them, and 2) to help raise funds for pediatric cancer research. To hear more, bring your bandages on up to Smart Insurance for an amazing cause!

Also, don’t forget that we have the Father Daughter-Dance coming up on June 12. We are going to have a blast with music and dancing. Flowers by Vikki will have all the corsages you need to make your little girl feel like a princess. I took a hard look at Backroads Gift & Apparel this weekend during the car show, and believe me, the dresses are there for them too! At such amazing prices as well! Make sure you are saving the date and be sure to come hang out with us for a good time!

Once again, I am so excited to be here at the Chamber and to feel like I have the platform to really be able to help our community. Please stop by and say hello! I’d love to get to know you all some more and hear your thoughts on how, together, we can make this place boom!

Small Business Saturday plans are underway and we’re all pretty excited.  Chardy Magnett, Catherine, and myself have been busy getting ready, be sure and mark November 24 on your calendars.  A big thank you to Bri Peterson of Mid-Kansas Dance for the use of her building on that day.  All our members who do not have a brick and mortar location, will be set up in that space.  Chris with Dopey Mixes will be featuring his dips and rubs along with new Chamber member Michelle Pruitt with Paparazzi Jewelry and myself with Perfectly Posh have already committed with more coming on every day.  Any non profit that would like to have a fundraiser during the event can contact the Chamber office or Chardy for details.  We will be accepting non Chamber businesses as well if space allows for $20 and a donation of $10 in product.

A Taste of Home food truck will be set up and we’ll be doing drawings for Local Bucks and handing out the cute canvas bags and all sorts of other fun stuff is in the works.

Be sure and keep an eye on the Think Local First Facebook page as we revive the much loved game “Where’s …..”  This year, we’ll be playing “Where’s Floyd?”  Floyd the Lucky Puppy will be visiting local businesses and each day his picture will appear on our Think Local First Facebook page.  Guess where he is every day for another entry.  On Small Business Saturday, we’ll do a drawing from all the correct guesses and the winner will receive a gift basket filled with goodies from local businesses.  So far the basket has $20 in gift certificates from A Taste of Home, some dips and BBQ sauce from Dopey Mixes, some great hair care products from Kristi Lovett’s Monat, and of course some Perfectly Posh.   Any Chamber business that would like to contribute to the prize basket can contact Catherine or myself.

Let’s keep our community strong and vibrant and do as much of our Christmas shopping from local businesses as we can.

The Chamber’s Dynamic Duo is official!

Monday, Catherine Stinnett joined the Chamber staff as our Member Relations/Events Coordinator. Catherine and her family moved to Herington the first time in February of 2013. In June of 2014, they left Herington for Bakersfield, California to take care of her husband’s mother.  Fortunately for our lovely community, she and her family returned to Herington this year after the loss of her mother-in-law. Catherine graduated from Manhattan Christian College with a degree in Business and Ethics and has been in sales and management for the last fourteen years.  Catherine is most excited about getting out to meet all of the Chamber members and the community and being of service to the community she now calls home.

Catherine’s has a full house that includes her husband Darrell, three sons, a daughter, a sister, two grandchildren, a dog, and four cats. Catherine is also a member of the Herington Planning Board and will be joining the Herington Convention and Visitor’s Board.  She is also an active member of the First Baptist Church and has been an individual Chamber member since they returned to our area.

Catherine’s duties will entail coordinating with Chamber members to asses their needs as well as organizing Chamber events.

The position of Bookkeeper at the Chamber was offered to Wendy Jones.  Wendy has a strong background in the Chamber, serving as the Executive Director for 3 years from 2013 to 2016.  Her position will handle all financial duties and she will also bring her skills as a graphic designer and social media marketer to the office.

A trial schedule is as follows: the Chamber office will be open from 10 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday with Catherine working on Monday and Tuesday and Wendy on Thursday and Friday.  Both ladies will work on Wednesday with Catherine using that day to be out on the streets visiting members.

Fall is here with a vengeance and I love it!  All the fall and Halloween decorations in Kay’s Pharmacy and Flowers by Vikki and Miss Lizzy’s makes my heart happy.  So do the pumpkins in front of Barnes Heartland Foods and all the warm and fuzzy clothes in Backroads Gifts and Apparel.

You always know its autumn when Dawn starts making soups again; and if you haven’t tried her baked potato soup you are missing out!  Speaking of soups, Becky over in the Barnes deli is making soups too; my favorite there is the Santa Fe chicken soup. By the way, if you aren’t following Becky’s BBQ Mermaid account on Instagram, you should be.  I go back and forth between laughing and drooling at all the great food.

Another sign of fall is when First Baptist Church starts back with their Wednesday night AWANA program.  They better hurry up and finish that new sanctuary before they outgrow their current one; they had 87 kids in attendance last week!  Did you know that churches could be Chamber members?  FBC Herington is one of two churches in our area that are members, along with Iglesia Templo La Hermosa Billingual Church.

We have a nice list of upcoming events to keep us busy this fall like Woodbine’s Fall Festival on October 20, the Trunk or Treat in Herington on Halloween, A Taste of Home’s Grand Opening Celebration on October 27, and the American Legion’s Ham & Bean supper on Veterans Day.

Here at the Chamber, we’re starting to make plans for Small Business Saturday.  There will be the usual games and prizes along with some new activities this year.  Keep an eye on our Think Local First Facebook page for more details coming.

Big congratulations and well wishes to Ryan Stevenson and Dani Jackson owners of The Herbal Emporium and Hair Gypsy who tied the knot this weekend.  I am so happy for you both!