Dakota Business | Marketing Messages in a New Era

North Dakota District Office

u s small business administration
Dakota Business Newsletter, June 2, 2020Marketing Your Business

Marketing Messages in a New Era

By: Eric Giltner, Senior Area Manager
Grand Forks Area Office - North Dakota District Office

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many changes in the way we go about our lives. Our businesses have been shut down or have limited access. We’ve been given new directions on how to navigate through stores and how to sit within safe parameters. With all of these changes, how do you stay connected to your customers? By adapting your marketing messaging. Several themes have arisen in the attempt to connect with the customers:

  • Expression of Optimism. “Times will get better” is often heard. The business is encouraging the customer to have patience and the company will always be there to help us get through this together!

  • Positioning the Customer as a Hero. Yes, look at how wonderful you are Moms and Dads! You have transformed your living rooms into schools, your spare bedrooms into workspaces, and you still have time to see that your family is fully engaged in enjoying life from the confinements of home.

  • Offer of Safety and Extended Service. Businesses will point out all their efforts to keep customers safe through extensive disinfecting of common areas and equipment. Service levels have been raised to provide curbside and/or home delivery, so customers won’t have to leave the sanctuary of their cars and homes.

  • Praising Front-Line Workers. Businesses offer praise for those providing essential services such as fire and police professionals, truckers, delivery specialists, health professionals, and food workers. Some businesses announce special donations or offer discounts for such workers as a way of saying “Thank You!”.

  • Changing the Business Model. New and used car dealers are offering unprecedented changes to how customers buy and take delivery of their new cars. Loans are at zero percent with no payments for six months or more. New car buyers can shop online and take a “no-touch” delivery of their new rides at their homes.

  • We Know Your Pain. Marketers are telling us they understand the difficulties of living in this “New Normal”.

Businesses need to continue to connect with their customers because things have truly changed.  Business models, the process a business employs to meet the customers’ needs, will never be the same again. Think of a department store’s beauty section where makeup can be tested. What kind of changes will they have to make? What kind of changes will you have to make for your businesses and how are you going to let your customers know about those changes? Which of the above marketing techniques will you try?

Eric Giltner has been a Business Development Specialist and the Grand Forks area manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration since 1998, having formerly been assistant to the dean of the UND College of Business and Public Administration.  He received his B.S. Degree in Geological Engineering and his Master's Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Dakota. Eric can be reached at eric.giltner@sba.gov.


Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

The Paycheck Protection Program is still accepting loan applications from participating lenders. Funding can be used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Contact your local lender to learn more.

Many businesses that have used the PPP are likely approaching the 8-week covered period for loan forgiveness. Don't rush into the forgiveness application process; take your time to fully understand the procedures. There is not a set deadline to apply for forgiveness, and the existing guidelines require supporting documentation that may be easier to develop after filing quarterly reports on June 30. In addition, there is new legislation pending that may substantially change the criteria for forgiveness.  

New guidance is released regularly on SBA's Paycheck Protection Program web page. Keep detailed records and supporting documentation of how you're spending PPP funds. Check the SBA website regularly for additional guidance on loan forgiveness.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

SBA continues to process EIDL applications.

If you submitted an application, received correspondence from SBA, and have an application number that begins with a “3”, you are in the queue and your patience is appreciated. If you would like to further inquire about the process and understand what to expect next, contact the Office of Disaster Assistance 24/7 Customer Service line at 800-659-2955. 

Visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/economic-injury-disaster-loan-emergency-advance for more information.

Additional Resoruces

SBA’s North Dakota network of resource partners stand ready to assist small businesses across the state. These partners are seeing clients virtually to assist in minimizing impact exposure to COVID-19 and protect our small business communities.

Additional funding assistance:

Beware of Scams and Fraud Schemes

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the largest financial assistance bill to date, includes provisions to help small businesses. Fraudsters are targeting small business owners during these economically difficult times.  Be on the lookout for grant fraud, loan fraud, and phishing.

SBA Programs - Scams and Fraud Alerts

Upcoming Events:

Business Builders Live: Social Media Foundations

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The one-hour webinar is divided into action-packed takeaways for your social media. It starts with an introduction to the most popular channels for business and ends with question and answer time.


The 4R Project - Getting North Dakota Back in Business

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The North Dakota Small Business Development Centers (ND SBDC) have launched the 4R Project -- Recover, Re-open, Re-invent, (be) Resilient, to help North Dakota's small businesses get "back to business." This is a state-wide collaborative effort to help all of our state's small businesses, regardless of industry, in weathering the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Coronavirus Tax Relief for Employers and Business Owners

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Learn about the IRS Employee Retention Credit, Paid Sick Leave and Paid Child Care Leave. These programs offer a credit on employment taxes to business owners who participate. Find out:

  • Who is eligible to participate?
  • Who must provide paid leave, and for whom is it optional?
  • How does the credit on employment taxes work?
  • What are some pitfalls to avoid?
  • Where can you learn more?