Across the nation, many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Many business owners are still awaiting stimulus payments and Paycheck Protection Loans. While these times may seem uncertain, a Dallas-based entrepreneur is offering advice on how to maintain your brand and keep your customers engaged.
Bree Clarke is the founder of The Iman Project, a series of farmhouse tables and workshops designed to encourage collaboration. She has two lifestyle studios in Dallas’ Bishop Arts and Uptown neighborhoods, in which she hosts events, pop-ups, panels and workshops. With The Iman Project, Clarke is able to combine her passions of design, community and giving back.
“It’s all about showing the true connection of a community,” Clarke says, “bringing everyone to the table and ensuring that no matter who you are, where you’re from or where you’re going that you have a seat at the table.”
With government-ordered quarantine and social distancing, The Iman Project, as well as other small businesses in the U.S., are having to change the way they operate. Marketing campaigns and promotions as we know them are now having to keep in mind what Americans can and cannot do during this time.
Since many people cannot physically be present at events that take place in Clarke’s lifestyle studios, Clarke is making sure she remains in the minds of her customers.
For Clarke, the keyword is “pivot,” which she is advising all of the brands she works with to do during coronavirus-related closures.
“I know a lot of people who weren’t big on social media,” Clarke says. “They weren’t really big on the digital platform, but it’s so needed right now. We’re not outside, we’re connecting online. It’s truly important right now, during these uncertain times, to connect online as well.”
Since the beginning of the government-ordered closures, Clarke has upped her digital presence. She has been hosting digital workshops, engaging with her customer base on social media, and has been working on a podcast. Clarke has even posted gift cards for sale so her customers can apply them to future rentals at one of her studios.
Clarke believes that by maintaining an active online presence, businesses can still remain in the minds and hearts of their customers. She has found that while some people are taking a break from social media during this time, the use of email remains constant.
“A lot of people felt like email was a dying trend. Everybody has been like ‘Instagram, Instagram, Instagram.’ Some people want to take a social media hiatus, but they never take a hiatus from their email. They get emails for their family, for their businesses and for personal stuff. I’ve always made sure that I’m proactive with my email list. And your email list does not have to be big to add value, just as long as you’re putting something out there, that is attractive, that is needed and that is a solution for your audience.”
Things that Clarke shares in her email newsletters include quick, simple recipes, business tips and empowering words. She says that entrepreneurs and small business owners should be focused on adding value to their own work, as opposed to “selling, selling, selling.” Clarke adds that people will remember which brands added value to this time.
While many are advising that people remain productive during this time, Clarke recommends each individual take all the time they need. She says she sees people struggling with imposter syndrome during this time.
“If you need to take a break, then take a break,” Clarke says. “Then, once you’re able to see things in a new light, you’ll be able to refocus your brand. Your productivity does not equal your value. Don’t let the internet rush your progress. We have a lot going on and there is a lot of uncertainty. You have to do things that align with your passion and your purpose for it to actually work.”