person holding cell phone with social media icons floating above
From free ads and services to gift card campaigns, many platforms are offering cost-effective opportunities to businesses struggling amid COVID-19. — Getty Images/CASEZY

Many small businesses are just trying to survive the lockdown, pivoting to sell to customers at home and re-allocating resources to support employees as much as possible. Luckily, advertising platforms and big companies are mobilizing in support of merchants across the country.

Here are some free resources available during COVID-19 if you’re looking for ways to expand your marketing and promote your business.

Join a gift card campaign

Operation Main Street and Support Local are two initiatives encouraging consumers to buy gift cards now to support local businesses with an immediate cash flow injection. If you offer gift cards, list your small business in these directories to help customers find and support you. Gift cards can be redeemed by customers once you re-open, or at your online store if you’re still offering delivery or curbside pickup. There’s no cost to be listed on either Operation Main Street or Support Local.

[Read more: How to Offer Gift Cards at Your Business]

Use Instagram’s free stickers

Instagram is making it easier to promote your business with new stickers you can add to your Stories and profile. Businesses can share gift card, food order and fundraiser stickers that users can tap to purchase. Fundraiser stickers will send a user to your Facebook page or to a personal fundraising page set up for your company. Gift card and food order stickers send users to complete their purchase through your company’s website.

[Read more: How to Promote your Business on Instagram During a Crisis]

Get free ads on Facebook

Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to small businesses (between two and 50 employees). You can apply for a grant and also take advantage of the resources and free fundraising tools Facebook has recently announced. Business owners can create a personal fundraiser on Facebook and also take advantage of the platform’s business resources with guides for retailers, salons and spas, restaurants and more.

Advertise for free on Yelp

Yelp is providing relief for bars and restaurants through waived fees for March advertising, free advertising in April, May, and June and service upgrades. Restaurants already advertising on Yelp will receive a $100 Yelp Ads campaign for May 1-25 running automatically, and restaurants not already advertising on Yelp can access Yelp Business Highlights, Call to Action or Yelp Connect free of charge through May 25, 2020. Read more about Yelp’s assistance for restaurant partners on their blog.

Small businesses have raised over $120 million on GoFundMe for campaigns related to COVID-19 relief.

Watch Now: CO— Blueprint, 12/3

Check out the video from our CO— Blueprint event that took place Thursday, December 3, 2020, where the panel discussed everything you need to know about navigating cybersecurity in this new, remote environment.



Take advantage of Google Ad credits

Do you have a Google Ad account? You may be able to take advantage of Google’s fund for small businesses. This fund is providing $340 million in Google Ads credits to all SMBs with active accounts over the past year. If you qualify, you will receive a credit notification in your Google Ad account that can be redeemed anytime until the end of 2020 on all of Google’s advertising platforms. There’s no need to apply or sign up to claim this credit.

Use Hootsuite for free

Promote your business using Hootsuite, a social media management platform that’s offering small businesses free use of their professional version until July 1. If you run a restaurant, hotel, event venue or performing arts organization, you may qualify for a free upgrade of this social media management tool that can help increase your social media presence, connect with customers and reach new audiences.

Set up a free landing page with Mailchimp

Email marketing is one of the best ways to promote your small business: One report estimates that email generates $38 for every $1 spent, a 3,800% ROI. Mailchimp, one of the most popular email marketing tools, is offering free standard service to nonprofits, local governments, schools and healthcare providers for three months. For other small businesses, Mailchimp is offering a free website builder for up to three months to small businesses as well as a free .com domain for up to five years. This is a great way to set up an e-store or landing page quickly to promote your business.

Take advantage of delivery through Shopify

Shopify is making physical and digital gift cards available on all new and existing Shopify plans, a great option for small businesses that haven’t launched this service yet. They’ve also extended a 90-day free trial for all new customers, giving small business owners access to their suite of promotion tools, like in-store/curb-side pick-up for online orders and local delivery through the Shopify POS. There are also free resources like live webinars and free e-mail marketing for all plans through October 1.

Launch a free GoFundMe

Small businesses have raised over $120 million on GoFundMe for campaigns related to COVID-19 relief. Consumers who are stuck at home are giving in any way they can, but not all businesses are suited to gift cards or e-commerce. Your fundraising campaign may have a specific purpose, like funding staff salaries, and the platform is a great option to raise visibility for your business. The GoFundMe platform itself is free, but note that there is a fee of 2.9% + 3 cents per donation which goes directly to the payment processor. Check out our guide on GoFundMe for tips on how to get started.

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Follow us on Instagram for more expert tips & business owners stories.

Published April 29, 2020