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How to survive Crisis as a Local Business


3 Reasons Why You Should Keep Advertising During a Crisis

Why You Need to Keep Your Marketing During a Crisis

When a Recession Comes Dont Stop Advertising

Seize Advantage in a Downturn

Marketing Strategies for survival are listed at the bottom of the article.

Also at the bottom of the article are links to support systems.


We have an opportunity to connect as a community in a way that I have not seen before.


I was in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. My house was roughly about a mile and a half from the epicenter. It was up in the Scots Valley hills outside of Santa Cruz. The community was devastated. Weeks later, people would start crying when there was an after-shock.

I had landed in London England on September 11, 2001, and was only a few months into Yellow Scene Magazine. I turned on the television and the first tower had just been hit. I watched the news as the reports came across the screen in a London hotel of the second tower being hit. We were only a few issues in, and I was bartending at night to support myself and my son. When I got back, I would hear patrons talk in ways that I don’t wish to repeat, but I have come to recognize that trauma can also bring out fear.

In 2008, the world was changed with the Great Recession. Alongside my fellow business community, we fought to find ways to keep our services relevant as global giants were getting bailouts.

In 2013, our community was hit with The Floods.

All of these I felt the fright as the community around me did. What has kept us going is drive. Pure drive. And some loans too, but mostly a lot of drive and unwillingness to give up.

All of these challenges, including the one I imposed on myself when I did my Rupert Murdoch experiment, has brought out a strength that I did not know resided.


Small Business Owner going to work everyday

I am a fighter. It has gotten me in trouble most of my life, but it also built a 20-year business. For me, having been through hell and back over 20 years of owning a small business, the first thing is to decide how much you want to fight for it.


There will be debt if you do. There will be ungodly long hours if you do. It won’t be easy. In fact, owning an independent publication that has remained true to authentic journalism, (even if the haters hate our positions), has been the hardest and most fulfilling work I have ever done. I don’t love debt, I don’t love working ungodly hours, I don’t love dealing with local, national or world crisis while trying to run a business, but I love what I do. I love the freedom — even with the stress. So I fight.

Part of that fight has not been done alone. There has been devoted staff, mentors, coaches, friends and therapists who I have cried with. Who helped me pick my spirit back up when it was beaten down. I have to do the fight, but I have support. Keeping our mental outlook is one of the most important parts of “the fight”.

Attitude affects everything.

I now know, we WILL get through this and I know we can help our community through it too. 

I didn’t know that before going through hell and back, but I do now. We have the strength. We really do.

We don’t know when this will slow (and are hoping 8 weeks or less), but I do know we have the ability to be there for our community in a way that we never have before.

Rather than focusing on what this will do to our business, we MUST focus on how we can be of service.

It will absolutely make you crazy to spend time on “what will happen to me”. It is noise. Focus instead on putting one foot in front of the other. Be of service, there is nothing that beats the healing power of service.

The key is don’t sit idle, don’t panic and don’t withdraw. Since Madison Avenue began 100 years ago, study after study shows that businesses that marketed during down economies fared far better than those that did not.

If the feet aren’t coming in the door, the strategy has to change. Your promotions have to change, and how you think about marketing has to change. Since the usual foot traffic has dramatically changed, we have to adapt.

The second tip to surviving financial insecurity as a business for the short term; Keep the money moving. Yes, it sometimes means borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, but keep the money moving.

In the Marketing Guidebook there is a section dedicated to what to do in downturned economies. Pandemics apply to these principles.

The following are recommendations for how to make those promotions seen. Keep in mind no singular platform will be able to cut through the noise. You need a mix, just as you needed a mix before COVID-19.

The good news is that by making these efforts now, not only will your business feel slightly less impacted by it all, but you will come out stronger when the Curve has started to decline.

We may all be online right now, but digital burnout will also occur and we are being bombarded with bad news, so you can not rely on social media alone to cut through the noise. There is a lot of noise to cut through right now. Now is the time to reach out more than ever.


  • Make Call and Pick Up a big part of your messaging.
  • Offer delivery, this keeps your staff employed and you in business.
  • Pair up with other businesses to help provide deliveries. Cross promote-we can not do this alone. If you are a realtor or other type of business professional, offer to help connect residents to services.
  • Virtual Shopping-make live videos of the wares in your store and promote this.
  • Promote your online or phone ordering abilities.
  • Promote virtual ordering. This can work in the absence of a big online store.
  • Promote what you are doing to contribute to local non-profits. Set up donations for every purchase.
  • Offer Streaming for classes, meetings, services.
  • Add a Patreon button to your website.
  • Promote Gift Certificates and offer Specials.
  • Promote your small size-this is key right now.
  • Promote small classes, limited seating.
  • Promote your local goods.
  • Promote the goods you sell that people can do as home projects.
  • Promote the need for fresh air and being outside. What goods can you offer that help with this?
  • Promote your messages of kindness, your messages of what you carry, and what you are doing locally, how you are working to keep staff employed.
  • Offer community connection services. If you have a great network, share it.
  • Support Community organizations through Donations


  • Yes, social media. But don’t think it will reach all that you need. It wont. Regardless, make videos of your store, products, make videos promoting the local non-profit your business wants to help. Get these posts pushed out. Don’t boost posts that are not community-minded right now. Promote goodwill.
  • Email is saturated. But do it anyway. When you do send out an email make it informative and helpful. Give ways they can still do business with you.
  • Direct Mail. I can help you with this. I have 25 years experience in direct mail. It might cost more but it will help you reach people. Whether we are facing a global pandemic or it’s business as usual, the message matters. We can help you with this through our 30 years of design and copywriting.
  • Network. With non-profits, other business members, create partnerships.
  • Create group advertising. If you reside in a neighborhood shopping center, band together and get a well-thought out message pushed out.
  • Advertise to the future (which is what advertising is anyway). The infections will start to decline at some point. China is now on the decline due to these measures. Life will eventually return to “normal”. Market your message for those times too.

Most of my time is spent advocating shopping locally and pushing this message out:

Right now let’s Be Neighbors like Mr. Rogers.

It might take more effort to shop locally, then rushing the big box stores, but you are accomplishing two things by doing so:

  1. Helping the heart of the community to still be here after this is over. And it will end, we don’t know when, but this too shall pass.
  2. Social Distancing and Flattening the Curve. Masses are not congregated at local stores. Right now rushing big box stores (who technically do have the resources to survive) is doing the opposite of Social Distancing. It can not be wise to have 300 people standing in line like that.



Small Business Association

SBA COVID-19 Funding Application

State of Colorado

Boulder Chamber Business Support Group

The Alternative Board-Denver West Free Town Halls

Nancy Chin-Wagner Professional Networking and Support




Shavonne Blades grew up on the West Coast but moved to Colorado in High School. She left for California after school and returned to Colorado in 1990. She got her start in media at the age of 21 in Santa Cruz, California as an advertising sales rep. Having no experience and nothing more than a couple of years as an art college attendee she felt the bug to work in media at a young age. She learned that by helping her customers with design and marketing, their campaigns would be far more successful and has made a 30+ year career in design, copywriting, and marketing for her clients. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPy4MMdcfLg. She has always chosen to work in Independent Media and believes deeply in the need for true, authentic Community Journalism. She is proud that YS has never compromised journalism standards in its 20+ history and continues to print YS on paper monthly while also expanding web coverage. She has worked at 3 Alternative Weeklies and founded Yellow Scene Magazine in 2000. You can learn more about Shavonne's adventures in the YS 20th Anniversary issue: https://yellowscene.com/2020/10/08/the-yellow-scenes-red-tornado/

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