Shop local – digital tips for businesses during COVID-19

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The Hobsons Bay business community is being significantly impacted by the measures required to flatten the transmission curve of COVID-19.

Whilst we are all closely following the news and health authority advice, it is important for our community to continue to support local businesses.

Below are some tips on keeping your business visible even though foot traffic is down.

Keep connecting with your online audience – remind them you are still there!
Messaging should encourage the community to shop/eat locally and support local, independent businesses where possible whilst following health authority advice. Businesses should send encouraging, hopeful messaging - delicious food / beautiful products can be a welcome distraction for bad news, even if it’s just a beautiful photo online.

Clearly communicate anything your business is doing to reduce risk in your venue
This should be communicated to your audience via email/e-newsletters and social channels. Are you spacing tables further apart? Or implementing extra hygiene precautions? It’s imperative to use language that is measured, reassuring and clear rather than panicked.

Sell menu items via delivery platforms or offer pick-up
This is an option for restaurants looking to service the community who are isolated at home but still want restaurant-quality food. Setting this up earlier may help restaurants continue to operate if they are forced to close for service. Stick to key dishes that travel well. Organise branded stickers to go onto bags and packaging.

Do you have dry or shelf-stable goods you can offer to sell to your diners? Rice? Pasta? Wine? Chicken stock? It may be a good idea to put some packages together for diners to collect. It’s important to communicate changes to your audience in the right way via social and e-newsletters.

Adjust your opening hours
Consider adjusting your opening hours to cater for the community’s needs. A great example of this are the main supermarkets who are offering special service times for the elderly and disabled.

Offer vouchers via your website so shoppers can come back later
Offering vouchers is a great way to encourage spending up front and ensure your diners come back once things have settled down. Also, why not put merchandise online whilst you’re at it?

Offer phone orders
Let people call ahead and pick something up without contact. Even if you can't take payment over the phone, allowing people to minimise contact time is great.  

Diversify your offering
If you've got access to in demand supplies (eggs, toilet paper etc.) you could offer these as an add-on to your customers.

Quiet day? Check your online ‘footprint’:
Attract new customers with a free Google listing
Your listing appears right when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search or Maps. Google My Business makes it easy to create and update your listing so you can stand out and bring customers in. If you haven’t already registered, start your listing here: www.google.com/business

*Add your business to Google maps
Have you added your business to Google maps or checked to see if it comes up if a customer searches for you?

Adding, claiming and verifying your business helps customers find it on Google. Once you’ve added and verified your business, you can edit business information  like address, contact information, category, and photos.

Follow these six easy steps:

  1. Open Google Maps and make sure you're signed in
  2. Zoom in to the map where you want to add your business
  3. In the bottom right, click ‘Send Feedback’
  4. Click ‘Add a missing place’
  5. Drag the marker where your business is and add any relevant information
  6. Click Submit

For more info on Google My Business visit https://support.google.com/business/answer/6174435?hl=en

*List your business on TripAdvisor
Are you taking advantage of TripAdvisor’s free listings?

*Reach millions of travel customers
More than 60 million consumers each month research their travel purchases using TripAdvisor. You can introduce your travel products and services (hotel, B&B, attraction, tour package, restaurant, etc.) to millions of qualified travel buyers.

*Appear on the top travel sites on the web
By listing your products and services within TripAdvisor's travel directory, you not only will be seen on www.tripadvisor.com's award-winning site but on other leading travel sites.

*Deliver your message at just the right time
With its sophisticated search technology, TripAdvisor can help you reach consumers at the very moment they are researching your location. As a hotel owner in Williamstown, for instance, you would benefit greatly from listing your property with TripAdvisor. Consumers looking for hotels in Williamstown could access your information, including a description of the property and a photo and be well on their way toward booking a room!

*Select your business type
If you're an official representative of your property, service, or company, set up your free TripAdvisor listing today.

Visit https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/GetListedNew

Read their listing policies below for more details

Restaurant - https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/GetListedRestaurant

Hotel - https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/GetListedAccommodation

Attraction - https://supplier.viator.com/signup-listing-type?m=61262&localeCode=en_AU

Need to update an existing listing? Go to https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Owners and log in to your account.

*List your business on Zomato
Zomato (formerly Urbanspoon) is an online search engine to find places to eat. There are 3.8m monthly online visitors in Australia. Zomato can help with the search and discovery of restaurants/ cafes located in Hobsons Bay.

Zomato helps you build the digital profile of your business and attract more customers. Your listing is your digital presence. It is your opportunity to add photos, menus, booking details, promos/events, blog posts and it is free to use.

Customers can also rate you, and what other people say about your business influences people visiting. Zomato is where people come to see real users’ experiences and your businesses’ responses to them.

Currently there are only 90 businesses in Hobsons Bay listed and making the most of this user generated content marketing. Page analytics and Zomato staff are also available for a ‘health check’ meeting with you for further assistance.

If you are not listed it is really easy to add your cafe/restaurant - just click on the link below. This link takes you to a user-friendly tool that allows the merchant (business) to easily add a restaurant themselves.

https://www.zomato.com/addrestaurant

*Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW)
Is your tourism business listed on The Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW)?
The Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW) is Australia’s national tourism database and distribution platform which represents over 40,000 small and medium sized tourism products and destinations.

An ATDW listing (formerly known as a Visit Victoria listing) will increase your business’ online exposure and website traffic. More than 50 key tourism websites (including Discover Your Own Backyard, Visit Victoria and Australia.com) draw on ATDW listing content, providing you with organic traffic and valuable links from many highly credible tourism websites.

By listing a product in the ATDW database, tourism operators benefit from being listed on their State or Territory Tourism Organisation’s consumer website, the Australia.com website and through ATDW’s network of over 200 tourism distributors.

Registration and approval of ATDW listings is managed through State or Territory Tourism Organisations and submissions are made via the ATDW online portal

*Hashtag suggestions you could use for social media
Hashtags are definitely necessary if you want your content to reach a wider audience. Industry recommendations are that around 15 hashtags are the expectation these days.

With the recent changes in Facebook and Instagram's algorithms, it's estimated that 70% of your company's organic social media content is going unseen. Hashtags can help your content get discovered and including a hashtag with your posts also helps to categorize content for your audience and you have more chances of being shared.

If your business/ social media manager could tag @HobsonsBayCC and use some of the list below, that’d be great. Council would love to ‘share’ back on instagram if #experiencehobsonsbay is used.

Hashtag recommendations:
Australia.com official # for potential sharing of posts is #seeaustralia
Visit Victoria official # for potential sharing is #visitvictoria and they also share the following example  #visitwilliamstown (or #visitaltona #visitspotswood etc.)
Love the West (managed by Western Melbourne Tourism) # for potential sharing of posts is #lovethewest

#experiencehobsonsbay
#visithobsonsbay
#restaurantaustralia
#visitvictoria
#seeaustralia
#melbwest
#lovethewest
#discoveryourownbackyard
#melbournenow
#dyobwilliamstown
#visitwilliamstown
#dyobaltona
#visitaltona
#dyobnewport
#visitnewport
#dyobspotswood
#visitspotswood
#dyoblaverton
#visitlaverton
#dyobsouthkingsville
#visitsouthkingsville
#westisbest
#welovelocal
#mustseemelbourne
#visitaustralia
#vernonstreet3015
#spotswood
#atona
#visitnewport3015
#williamstown
#altona
#waterfrontwilliamstown
#nelsonplace
#melbourne
#innerwest
#weeklyspecial
#localbusiness
#welovelocal
#williamstown3016
#mustseemelbourne
#visitaustralia

These times are unique, and it’s important we all support each other, make a plan and be proactive. It is also important to stay up to date with public health advice to adapt your strategies accordingly.

Businesses across the state can access information on dealing with COVID-19 by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

Your customers will be back, it’s important to not lose contact with them.