Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners have had to come up with fresh, new ways to make the presence of their businesses known. From incorporating technology like e-commerce sales and email marketing to pivoting their product or service offerings all together, small business owners have proved themselves creative and resilient in the face of such an unprecedented time.

Here, five small business owners shared with CO— how they've gotten crafty (and successful) with their marketing strategies — not only by identifying and speaking to their customers' needs, but tapping into their hearts, as well.

 Emily and Josh Copus of Carolina Flowers in their dahlia field.
Emily and Josh Copus of Carolina Flowers. — Carolina Flowers/Jack Sorokin

Emily Copus, founder, Carolina Flowers

“The pandemic has shown me how important it is to have deep relationships with our customers that go beyond the product itself. To help maintain those, I’ve been sending out more long-form emails. Flowers are all about imagination and escape from reality, but there's also a lot of hard work that goes into growing them— especially now. I try to capture that. Customers are really responding. They like the idea that they are part of the business. They like feeling invested in our brand and in the story of our brand.” Follow Carolina Flowers on Instagram: @carolinaflowers.

 Manhattan penthouse apartment by Gauthier Stacy, Inc.
Manhattan penthouse apartment designed by Gauthier Stacy, Inc. — Gauthier Stacy

Jim Gauthier, co-founder, Gauthier Stacy, Inc.

“For 24 years, we’ve been fortunate to tend to repeat customers and referrals. The shutdown prompted us to shift focus in two ways. One, we’ve completely rebuilt our Instagram presence from the ground up, putting more effort into each post, which has yielded new followers and energized our existing ones. And two, we’ve done comprehensive client outreach. Our customers appreciated hearing from us. Many are doing a conscious rethink of how their homes work for them, which has led to a host of new projects.” Follow Gauthier Stacy on Instagram: @gauthierstacy.

 p.o.p candy co. display at Whole Foods Market.
Whole Foods Market display of p.o.p. candy co. — p.o.p candy co.

Rachel Flores and Bill Waiste, co-founders, p.o.p candy co.

“When COVID-19 hit, we pivoted. Instead of counting on live events to reach customers, we redirected funds to build our online presence—something we’d been meaning to do for a while. It started with a "HUGS" campaign (because we could all use hugs right now!), developed into an Instagram and Facebook ad campaign, and will next feature a new flavor rollout. Within a month, the ad campaign paid for itself. It also expanded our customer base, established a dialogue with new customers, and strengthened our online sales platform.” Follow p.o.p. on Instagram: @popcandyco.

 Lure FIshbar in NYC.
Lure Fishbar in New York City, one of the boutique restaurants that Mercer Street Hospitality owns and operates. — Mercer Street Hospitality

John McDonald, founder, Mercer Street Hospitality

“The greatest marketing in the restaurant industry is a customer who leaves not just happy, but leaves a promoter. When they return to their office or house, they feel compelled to proactively tell a story about what a great experience they had at XYZ place. Conversely, a bad experience is equally destructive.” Follow Mercer Street Hospitality on Instagram: @eatthisdrinkthat.

 Katherine Fay in Reflektion salon.
Katherine Fay, founder and owner of refleKTion salons. — refleKTion salon

Katherine Fay, founder, refleKTion salons

“Instagram. Our work is visual, so aesthetic is hugely important. A beautifully curated page allows people to feel confident in our work before they even enter the building.” Follower refleKTion salons on Instagram: @reflektionsalon.

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