Grants and loans from the US government, state and local governments, Facebook and Google can help small businesses during the economic downturn of Covid-19.
Coronavirus has damaged retail. A Digiday retail segment investigation released on March 30, 2020, "found that 40 percent of top execs expect to have layoffs because of the crisis."
Not long after this study was published, Macy's announced it would hold 130,000 of its employees due to store closures. And later that afternoon, Gap, Inc. sa it would leave 80,000 shop workers as it had also lost almost all of its revenue.
Even e-commerce companies have faced challenges. Many have encountered supply chain disruptions and weak consumer needs. By March 30, 2020, several US states had announced stay-at-home orders that did not allow some of the e-commerce warehouse operations to remain open.
Fortunately, help can be on the way.
The US Congress passed the "Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act" or CARES Act, which will, among other things, provide about $ 350 billion in small business relief.
The vast majority of these funds extend the available loans through U.S. Small Business Administration.
The loans, which are said to be part of a "Paycheck Protection Program", will be offered to companies with 500 or fewer employees as of March 1 and with proven ongoing labor costs. The eligible business must also have been damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
As The SBA explains it, "The paycheck protection program is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on wages by giving each small business a loan up to $ 10 million for payroll and certain other expenses … If all employees are kept on payroll in Eight weeks, SBA will forgive the portion of the loans used for salary, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. Up to 100 percent of the loan can be forgiven. "
The borrowed money can finance salaries, rent, mortgages, tools and debt obligations.
In addition to the Paycheck Protection program, the CARES Act also allows for increased access SBA's financial disaster loan. These loans can be used for operating costs and to buy stock or equipment. Eligible companies will be able to borrow up to $ 2 million with a 3.75 percent interest rate of up to 30 years.
State and local grants, loans
Many state and local authorities have also announced programs to help small businesses during the pandemic. These programs are usually advertised regionally and at the time of writing included dozens of loan and grant options.
As an example, California's cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento each announced programs to help their small businesses. The Sacramento program, which sets aside $ 1 million for interest-free, small business loans of up to $ 25,000 each, was so popular that the city had to stop accepting applications.
Several websites have tried to track the various state and local aid options. These sites include:
E-commerce and omnichannel merchants should check with their state and local coronavirus relief agencies.
Facebook has set aside $ 100 million small business contributions to help offset financial damage from the pandemic. These grants can take the form of cash or advertising credits and will be distributed to as many as 30,000 small businesses in 30 countries where Facebook does business.
According to Facebook, the contributions can be used to pay employees, cover rent or mortgages, advertise or market a company or pay operating costs.
As of March 30, Facebook had not released any eligibility requirements or application information, but they are expected soon. Some companies have reported that they received basic information during consultations with Facebook's team of marketing experts.
E-commerce and omnichannel retailers suffering from the pandemic can sign up for Facebook updates.
Google Ad Credits
Google offers $ 340 million in advertising credits to SMEs that have purchased Google ads over the past year. Credit information for ads is displayed in the Google Ads application for eligible businesses.
"We have recommended scaling all of our customers' search campaigns now, both organic search and paid search," said Joe Rowett, CEO of VELOX Media, a search marketing agency.
“There is a remarkable change in the buying behavior from brick and mortar to e-commerce. This has resulted in an increase in keyword volumes for keywords, and right now this is combined with slightly lower keyword difficulty. This provides a unique opportunity for progressive brands to drive new revenue growth in the largest marketing channels in the short term.
“This change in buying behavior is the beginning of a long-term upward trend for e-commerce. We recommend that you start search campaigns as soon as possible to take advantage of this short-term new revenue growth opportunity. And that is very profitable revenue growth, which provides more than 600 percent return on marketing spend, ”Rowett added.
Given the likelihood of success with performance marketing, Google's efforts to help small businesses drive revenue can be valuable.