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The current COVID-19 public health crisis is causing small craft businesses to evaluate their regular hours and operations, with some even temporarily closing.

With the announcements of a national emergency, state-wide school state closures, and the cancellation of large community events due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, small craft businesses are being impacted in ways that could not have been predicted just a week ago. Reducing operating hours, supply chain and fulfillment delays, and even temporary brick and mortar shop closures have some craft business owners worried about how they can continue engaging customers and leverage sales during a turbulent economic time.

Read 10 tips – from what you can do immediately to what you can do when the crisis is over – from Craft Industry Alliance, complete with resources to help you ensure your small craft business stays connected to customers during this public health crisis.

1. Increase digital engagement with your customers

The fastest way for your customers to get updates about any changes to your business hours or offerings is through email and social media. It’s also the best way for customers to learn about when your small business resumes regular operations. A great way to engage customers now is to ramp up your social media posting and put extra effort into your newsletters.

2. Transition large events to virtual events

Organizers for large craft industry events like the Studio Art Quilts Associates conference and Vogue Knitting Live are moving from in-person gatherings to virtual events. If you are an organizer for a large craft industry event, or even if your small business planned a small or mid-sized educational event, it’s easier than ever to transition that event online if postponing is impossible.

 

Small craft business owners may wonder how to stimulate shopping once the public health crisis ends.

3. Prioritize customer service

Keeping customers happy is a primary daily function of any small craft business. Especially in times of crisis, or when your business is experiencing unexpected disruptions, focusing on providing quality customer service becomes even more important. Being patient and transparent about the cause of your delays can help keep customers happy.

4. Host a giveaway

One way to keep your customers engaged with your craft business is to host a giveaway on social media. Giveaways make people happy and excited about your brand, and best of all, you control the schedule. Consider a giveaway that parents can do with children who may be home from school for several weeks, or a kit that can be completed by someone in self-quarantine without needing to shop for additional supplies.

5. Collaborate with other small craft businesses

Is there another small craft business you like that is also experiencing a disruption because of the public health crisis? Reach out and brainstorm a way to creatively collaborate. Collaborations like joint live videos, craft-alongs, or blog hops can help with cross marketing and amplifying both your business and your collaborator’s business.

6. Host a craft-along

With many people in self-isolation, canceling plans to practice social distancing, or home with kids, online craft-alongs in a Facebook group or on Instagram can help customers stay connected to your brand. Besides being good for business, craft-alongs can help build a stronger online community around your brand that will last beyond the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Crafting has always been part of the “homebody economy,” but during our public health crisis, even more crafters are staying home and looking for ways to connect.

7. Make YouTube or IGTV videos

Crafting is part of what is increasingly known as the “homebody economy,” a growing subset of products and services like streaming services, in-home exercise, e-books, and crafts that cater to people who like to stay in. With even more crafters than usual staying close to home, dipping your toes into YouTube or IGTV for the first time can capture the attention of new and existing customers.

8. Encourage customers to purchase gift cards to your shop if orders can’t currently be fulfilled

If your business is unable to fulfill in-store or mail orders, promoting gift cards can be a great way to maintain your revenue flow. Consider adding a promotion to your gift card to encourage customers to shop when you’re ready to resume regular operations. Offering a free trinket such as an overstocked item, small product sample, or free pattern to customers who shop with a gift card when regular operations resume can help make people excited to purchase gift cards now.

9. Offer a re-opening or back to business as usual sale

If you are able to, offering a small back to business sale can help customers who are anxious about their finances after the public health crisis ends. Given the current fluctuating state of the stock market and economy, customers may be anxious about spending money on their hobbies. A sale could help ease your customer’s concerns.

10. Focus on retaining customers

If your customers are anxious about spending money now or when the crisis is over, making sure you retain your loyal customer base can be crucial for your small business. Remind them why your products are the best, emphasize marketing of your best-selling items, and consider starting a loyalty program to reward your best customers for staying with your business instead of seeking out lower price points.

If you don’t already have one in place, creating a business emergency plan could be useful. No business owner can foresee natural disasters, health crises, or other emergencies, and having a plan in place for how to respond will help maintain calm in a chaotic situation. Once you have learned how your business handles a crisis, make sure to document what was successful and unsuccessful. Learn tips to catastrophe-proof your business and make sure your small craft business is ready for any future emergencies.

Laura McDowell Hopper

Laura McDowell Hopper

Social Media Manager and Staff Writer

Laura is our Social Media Manager and Staff Writer. Her work has appeared in Quiltfolk, Curated Quilts, Modern Patchwork, QuiltCon Magazine, and more. She is also an award-winning curator focused on textile preservation, an avid quilter, and a volunteer on nonprofit quilt boards. Laura believes that every crafter has an interesting story to tell, and she is committed to telling those stories elegantly and rigorously. She lives near Chicago, Illinois.

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