March 30, 2020
Dear Congresswoman Bonamici and Senators Merkley and Wyden,
Thank you for your service and the important work you do, especially in difficult times as this. We are writing today to ask for your help to Save Small Business.
As a Chamber of Commerce, we view ourselves as first responders to the Business Community. During times a such as these, we are a reliable source of important information, have connections to important resources and have flexibility and agility to change as the needs of our community change. We are closest in touch with what information and help our businesses need. With the deluge of information everyone is experiencing, we serve as a sieve to disseminate and help effectively target necessary info for our businesses.
Our connections with our members brought to light how many businesses have had to reduce hours, layoff employees, and sadly, in some cases, close their doors for good. Many businesses do not qualify for disaster loan programs and some can’t afford to incur additional debt. As the voice of the business community, we need to take immediate action to assist business community to stay afloat during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
Together, with over 80 chambers of commerce and business associations, we joined the Save Small Business Coalition. The Save Small Business Coalition is committed to the survival of a vibrant business community as businesses across the US are feeling severe economic hardships as government mandates force restrictions and closures on business.
We know as our elected leaders you are aligned with our desire to keep our small business afloat, maintaining their employees, making recovery plans and be at the ready to do business as soon as possible and is allowed.
• This coalition is not about one single industry, this is about all small businesses across the nation.
• Small Businesses need funds right now to stay afloat, period. Getting small businesses, the funds to maintain the continuity of their business in the most expeditious way is of paramount importance. Many are in critical condition or on life support as it is.
• There is nothing in any business’s insurance that covers this unprecedented event of the Civil Authority of closing of businesses. Trying to reform the policy contracts after-the-fact will likely end up in protracted legal battles and debate while businesses fail and the families they employ suffer irreparable harm.
• We want to empower a potential solution for small businesses that works with the insurance industry backed by the federal government.
• We believe that with a federally funded backstop to cover the business continuity expenses through defined grants to business owners impacted, insurance carriers and agents could potentially act as a distribution center for funds and likely help define the terms of the grants based on their experience as claims payors and policy writers.
• We are advocating that Government funding be provided to the insurance carriers for a streamlined process without adversely impacting the overall insurance safety net.
• We are not asking our carriers to break or ignore contracts that are held by businesses with their current coverage. We are asking for extraordinary emergency action by the Government to empower an urgent solution that currently doesn’t exist.
• In addition to engaging you as our elected leaders we are seeking the collaborative support of not only Chamber of Commerce members across the country but many of the largest insurance industry associations representing carriers, agents and brokers including but not limited to: the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association.
• We believe that the faster we can collaborate and work together to find a federally funded solution for small business continuity that can be dispersed immediately to small businesses the better we will be able to save this vital heartbeat of the American economy.
On a regular basis, the Chamber is a constant advocate for business. The work we do together is more important than ever.
We hope you’ll work with us on a solution to help the many businesses and nonprofits negatively affected by this crisis as we push for a Federal solution. Will you join us?
Debi Mollahan, CEO Tigard Chamber
Megan De Salvo, Chair of the Board, Co-Owner, Edge One Media
Tigard Mayor Jason Snider
Tigard City Councilors: John Goodhouse, Tom Anderson, Heidi Lueb, Liz Newton
Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington
Washington County Commissioners: Roy Rogers, Dick Schouten, Pam Treece, Jerry Willey State Representatives: Margaret Doherty, Courtney Neron
State Senators: Ginny Burdick, Kim Thatcher, Mark Hass, Rob Wagner
Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi
Executive Branch: Governor Brown, Secretary of State Bev Clarno, Treasurer Tobias Read
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2020
Contact: Nancy Hoffman Vanyek
TIGARD, OR – As many businesses have been justifiably anxious about how to keep their businesses afloat during this time of COVID-19, the Tigard Chamber of Commerce along with over 80 chambers of commerce and business associations across the nation created the Save Small Business Coalition (SSBC) to address exactly that concern. Businesses need cash now, period. The coalition, spanning 15 states, wants to empower a solution for both small businesses and the insurance industry, backed by the federal government.
In the past few weeks, communities across the nation have seen their local businesses make the difficult decision to reduce hours, lay off employees, and sadly, in some cases, close their doors for good. Many businesses do not qualify for disaster loan programs and some cannot afford to incur additional debt. There is nothing in any business’s insurance that covers this unprecedented event of the Civil Authority of closing of businesses. Trying to reform the policy contracts after-the-fact will likely end up in protracted legal battles and debate while businesses fail and the families they employ suffer irreparable harm. The SSBC believes that with a federally funded backstop to cover the business continuity expenses through defined grants to business owners impacted, insurance carriers and agents could potentially act as a distribution center for funds and likely help define the terms of the grants based on their experience as claims payors and policy writers. The coalition advocates that Government funding be provided to the insurance carriers for a streamlined process without adversely impacting the overall insurance safety net.
A member of the California State Assembly, Adrin Nazarian, supports the coalition’s efforts in California, stating that “Small business is the backbone of our economy and it is vital to rebuilding that economy once we defeat the COVID-19 virus. However it is imperative that the insurance industry recognize the ‘business continuity’ claims of small business if this essential part of our economy is to survive.”
In addition to engaging the government, SSBC is seeking the collaborative support of not only Chamber of Commerce members across the country but many of the largest insurance industry associations representing carriers, agents and brokers including but not limited to: the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies; The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers; The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America; and the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association. The faster all of these organizations can collaborate and work together to find a federally funded solution for small business continuity that can be dispersed immediately to small businesses, the quicker the vital heartbeat of the American economy can be saved.
The Save Small Business Coalition is committed to the survival of a vibrant business community as businesses across the US are feeling severe economic hardships as government mandates force restrictions and closures on business.
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Most marketers these days will tell you that the most convincing way to write your web copy is to solve a problem for your audience. You cannot expect your audience to read your site or watch your videos and guess whether you’re good for them or not. Instead, you need to connect the dots for them. You have to be exceptionally clear of the solution you provide and it has to be the answer to the problem they’re struggling with.
But sometimes your audience isn’t aware of the problem. It may be that the problem is not acute enough yet for them to be entertaining a solution. Sometimes they know there’s a problem but they’re unable to define it. Maybe they’re not sure of the cause or maybe they can’t quite separate it from other difficulties they’re having. Whatever the case may be, if they are unclear about the problem, you’ll have difficulties providing solution-based marketing.
In these cases, you need to find a way to help them better understand their problem before you can provide a solution.
But how do you do that if they don’t know what their problem is? And how do you figure it out? As in other types of marketing, the best way to do this is to be as transparent as possible in the following ways.
What is solution-based marketing?
Solution-based marketing is the approach that focuses on the customer need behind particular businesses. In solution-based marketing you use a problem to shape your web copy. Don’t focus on the negative. Instead, present an opportunity for growth or potential for your customers. For instance, remember the McDonald’s catch phrase “ you deserve a break today”? That is an example of (assumed) solution-based marketing.The problem that is not directly names is that people are stressed and overworked. McDonald’s is jumping in and suggesting (without directly saying it) they can provide the solution to that stressful existence. They can provide a much-needed break.
Solution-based marketing is its most efficient when the problem it’s solving for is known by the potential customer. However, in the case of the McDonald’s example, the customer may not even realize how stressed they were until McDonald’s presented the solution in suggesting that they deserve the break.
How Do You Know There’s a Problem?
If your customer doesn’t know there’s a problem, how do you?
Every business has a problem the question is whether the business owner has taken the time to define and understand it.
In many cases what they recognize as the difficulty is not the actual problem but how it is presenting itself. This situation can be compared to a very painful headache. When most people have one, they refer to that as the problem or the reason they can’t do something or why they’re in a bad mood. However that’s just how the problem is presenting itself. There’s an underlying cause of the headache like maybe dehydration. While the headache feels like the problem, it’s really the dehydration that is at the center of the issue. If you really want to solve the problem, you have to fix the dehydration.
Most people look to stop the headache because that’s the pain. This is only a temporary solution. If you’re using solution-based marketing you want to alleviate the pain by getting to the heart of the problem, not just solving how it’s presenting. You can do this several ways.
Look at reviews
Examine your reviews and that of your top competitor. What are the phrases that keep coming up over and over again? Use those words and comments to shape your content and web copy headlines.
Talk to Your Customers
Create a panel of your most loyal customers or if you don’t have loyal customers, talk to some of your most recent ones. Ask them why they bought from you. And if they bought from anybody else. If so, ask them why they bought from that person.
They may bring up price, proximity, or referrals as the reasons why they chose one business over another. These are symptoms just like that headache. You want to dive deeper. Use the words they mention to get to what they’re really concerned about. For instance, if they refer to budget as the reason they selected someone, they’re likely watching the bottom line.
You want to make sure you talk about the danger of the competition that doesn’t stay within your budget or expensive upsells and charges that aren’t negotiated in the original conversation when creating content.
Look at Requests on Facebook
Have you ever noticed people on Facebook asking their following for recommendations on local businesses? When they do, very few people get right to their immediate need such as asking for a veterinarian in New York City. In most cases, they have a story to tell before they launch into their need.
Maybe they’ve gotten burned before or want to make sure they give all the background. Maybe they don’t want to waste anyone’s time or they want to get the ideal fit. But whatever the reason, they tell a story instead of asking for the referral directly.
Because of this, business recommendations can be a wealth of information. Peruse these in your local city group on Facebook or read your friends’ by clicking on the recommendations tab on the left hand side of your Facebook profile.
If you still can’t figure out what the problem is plaguing your potential customers and what’s keeping them up at night, do some research on your ideal demographic. By using your target demographic, you can search for their most common struggles. Through identifying their most common struggles, you can then create content around those difficulties and test how your audience responds to that content.
- Is that content shared?
- Do they click on it and interact with it?
- Did they leave you comments or ask additional questions?
- Is it a heavily visited post?
Any of these things can indicate that you have struck content gold and are providing something that is a great value to your audience.
While you could create content that reflects all of the problems that your ideal demographic might face based on research, the easiest and most efficient way to figure out what’s bothering them is to do some A/B testing with questions on social media.
No one has time to write to every possible concern in the world. You have to narrow those things down. Focus on the top three reasons your customers may be struggling. Ask a couple of pointed, open-ended questions on social media that would help you better understand your active audience. Using this kind of crowdsourced R&D can assist you in creating valuable content without a lot of trial and error.
This tactic won’t completely remove the need to do some testing to see what people respond to but it will get you halfway there and provide you with good insights as to what people need from you most.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com.
Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to eradicate boring copy and bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.