Throughout the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the positive aspects we hope carries over into the new normal is the resiliency shown by small businesses.
Here at Ripl, we love hearing the stories of the creative ways our community was able to pivot and adapt using social media. Today we’re showcasing how one business built a social media that got new customers online and on the road.
A mother and daughter small business team
April and Joy Edwards are the owners of Grapevine Cottage, a home decor and gift store in Collingwood, Ontario in Canada. They are a mother and daughter team that have been in business for over 20 years together, and love what they do.
Grapevine Cottage offers a variety of products such as home, garden and seasonal decor, ladies’ fashions, jewelry, purses, and Canadian-made candles.
April and Joy credit the magic of social media for their broad range of customers that are both local and across Canada.
Customer service comes first
Even before the pandemic April and Joy prioritized a hands-on approach to customer service and customer engagement. They strive to go above and beyond to meet their customer’s needs.
“This includes such personal touches as handwritten cards and a small gift with online orders, or curbside pick-up orders. We have also hand-delivered and some porch delivery service, especially in these times with the pandemic.”
Applying customer feedback has a similar approach for them.
“We listen to our customers' requests and try our very best to source out the products and items they are looking for. We ship out gift orders for customers all over Canada for Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and birthdays.”
The lockdown created an added factor to consider for April and Joy when it comes to helping their customers.
“When garden, cottage and staycation season comes around, we assist our customers in choosing the perfect decor items to decorate and make their places more enjoyable, since most people are now staying home and not traveling.”
Their social media journey
How they reach their customers has changed over the years. As April describes it, “first we were old school and waited for them to walk through the door to make their purchases and to browse in our shop.” They found that the playing field changed with the introduction of online social platforms, and they had to find new and inventive ways to reach existing customers and create a new customer base to avoid falling behind.
Like many, their first foray into social media for business was creating a Facebook page, followed by Pinterest and Google. They were able to quickly learn the ropes, and start putting their own creative spin on their content.
“To make our Facebook Business page stand out, to build likes and shares, grab customers’ attention, and sell the products in our store, we had to get creative! So we took small videos of ourselves featuring the products that we sell and post every day. My mom is a great model, and she loves to dance, so that became one of our draws—customers would tune in to see what she was wearing and selling that day.”
One way Grapevine Cottage amassed over 16,800 followers across their different social media profiles is by utilizing giveaway contest videos. Each month April and Joy select a product and give their followers a chance to be entered and win by liking and sharing the video. This increases their customer base, engagement rates, introduces new products to their customers, and most of all is a fun way to keep in touch with them.
Reimagining business in the time of COVID-19
Like many small businesses impacted by lockdown and safety measures from the COVID-19 pandemic, Grapevine Cottage had to completely change the way they did business. While the future of restrictions is uncertain, one thing has become abundantly clear for April, and that is the impact social media marketing has had for her business.
“Without being able to reach our customers by social media we would NOT be in business. This has been our BEST and ONLY tool to reach our customers and sell our products during these provincial government lockdowns.”
Some adaptations they made includes: posting daily to their Facebook and Instagram business pages, allowing customers to make orders via private messages and phone, and arranging for orders to be shipped or picked up curbside.
From Facebook ad to 2 hour road trip
Once they saw the impressive results from sharing to social media, they began investing in tools to make it easier and more effective.
“Ripl has been a wonderful marketing tool to help us to reach our customers during these lockdowns and to get them to walk through our “social media door”. We love and use Ripl to make small mini commercials of our products and our new arrivals.”
It turned out that April and Joy’s “social media door” inspired a road trip for one of their customers.
“We have had some customers drive from 2 hours away to purchase items they have seen featured in an ad I made with Ripl.”
Advice for other small businesses on the fence about prioritizing social media
In spite of the benefits, some small businesses may feel hesitant or overwhelmed about using social media to market their business. We asked April for her advice.
“My advice to other businesses on social media is to just do it, don’t be afraid of it, and have some fun with it.”
As evidenced by Grapevine Cottages’ colorful and fun social media profiles, this is something they have come to embrace.
“If you make a mistake, take a deep breath, learn from it, and carry on. In order to survive in business now and in the future, it is a must. In the days of smartphones, you can be your own marketing department. It is all at your fingertips. I use my iPhone all the time for social media to create the posts and Ripl videos for Grapevine Cottage. Marketing apps like Ripl are easy to learn, and can help you reach your customers, make your Facebook and Instagram pages more interesting, and best of all, increase your sales.”
To see how Ripl works for your business, sign up for a free 7 day trial today.