2020 presented companies with unprecedented challenges. COVID-19 has forced most to turn their strategies online and adapt to a growing digital landscape. While some managed to stay afloat, others were not as successful and many had to close their doors permanently as a result.
Black-owned companies are disproportionately affected by the global pandemic. In the United States, 26% of black-owned companies closed their doors permanently between February and May 2020, compared to 11% of white-owned companies.
That’s why HubSpot is joining Google, the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and other black-owned companies this holiday season – an initiative to improve visibility and support for black-owned companies.
I spoke to Gianne Doherty, Founder of Organic Bath Co., to learn more about what businesses and consumers can do to support black-owned businesses during this holiday season. Below are some of the thoughts she shared during our conversation.
How to support black-owned companies
1. Tell someone about a company or product.
Doherty started by saying the easiest way to support black-owned businesses during the holiday season is to tell people about their products. When you buy something cool or get a good deal, tell a friend. Online customer reviews are great, but a one-on-one interaction is usually the best way to convince someone to review a company or product you love.
If you don’t know of any black-owned companies in your area, Doherty recommends going to Google and doing a quick search. There are many resources available to guide you to a black-owned company near you – one of them is the Official Black Wall Street Directory.
She also suggested searching social media websites to find black-owned companies online. For example, if you search for “#BlackOwnedBusiness” on Twitter, you will find numerous accounts managed by black business owners. Liking, reposting, and sharing their content is also a great way to support these companies.
2. Refer customers to black-owned companies.
Word of mouth is incredibly important for small businesses, especially if you work in a B2B environment. Doherty found that customer recommendations have a huge impact on buying decisions because customers trust each other’s recommendations more than your brand’s ads. If you have the chance this holiday season, refer a black-owned company to your clients or colleagues and help promote their brand.
Doherty also stressed the importance of focusing on the value of the products and services you are referring to – not just the fact that they are illegally owned. After all, “shop black or shop small doesn’t mean inferior quality,” as she put it. When making a referral, Doherty encouraged people to highlight the benefits of the product or service as well as the fact that it was created by people who were historically underfunded.
3. Shop early for the vacation.
The holidays are already a busy time for small businesses, and COVID-19 has made it even more difficult to keep up with customer demand. In the United States, 99% of minority owned businesses are small businesses, which means many businesses don’t have their own shipping companies like Amazon or Walmart.
Most small businesses in the United States use the United States Postal Service (USPS) to ship their products, which can cause delays if orders pile up during the holidays. Doherty encourages customers to purchase their products early in the holiday season to avoid potential shipping issues.
4. Be patient with small businesses.
In addition to purchasing early, Doherty also noted that this year customers will need to be a little more patient with small businesses. The holidays are already full and now many companies with COVID-19 are still learning how to adjust their marketing, sales and customer service strategies. There are likely to be some new roadblocks to overcome this year, and customers will have to be patient with small businesses as they work to overcome these challenges.
Black-owned companies have already seen a surge in customer demand this year, as searches for black-owned companies increased over 7,000% between May and July. Unfortunately, that growth has declined since then, resulting in buyers having to support more black-owned businesses during the holidays. While it’s wonderful to see a sudden spark of interest in the summer, Doherty encouraged buyers to support black-owned businesses year-round, and not just when it’s trending.
5. Affiliate with black-owned companies.
If you are a business owner, you can partner with illegally owned companies by running advertising campaigns. For example, Doherty has worked with other black-owned companies to run giveaways. She will be giving away another brand’s product while that brand is giving away one of theirs. This is a great way for either company to raise awareness of the other company’s customer base.
Here is an example from her company’s Instagram page, where she partnered with two other black-owned beauty brands to give away products.
6. Buy from black-owned companies.
Ultimately, the best way to support black-owned companies is to buy their products. Doherty said, “We vote with our dollars.” The companies in which we spend our money will grow and prosper. If we do not consciously buy into black-owned companies, we will continue to lose them disproportionately. If you really want to support black-owned companies this year, buy one of their products and tell a friend about it too.
These are just a few of the ideas Gianne Doherty wanted to share for Black Owned Friday. We hope this will bring some attention to black-owned companies, particularly those that have been severely affected by COVID-19.
If you’re a black business owner and looking for ways to boost your visibility this season, here are some resources from Google to help you reach new customers.
How To Get Support If You Are A Black Business Owner
Here are three things Google recommends if you are a black business owner.
- Add your company to the US Black Chambers, Inc. ByBlack directory. You can add your entry and become part of the community for free.
- In your company profile on Google, mark that your company is black-owned. By adding the “Black-Owned” attribute, you stand out from customers searching for your business on Google Search and Maps. Here’s how to get started.
- Get free coaching to help your business reach new customers, thrive and grow online. Grow with Google Digital Trainers who provide dedicated small business support from Black and Latinx.