While Talk of the Post-Pandemic Future Is on the Rise, SMBs Continue to Struggle

Here’s how the marketing and advertising industry can help

For a large percentage of the 30 million small business owners across the U.S., hard work unfortunately does not guarantee success in the wake of Covid-19. With consumer demand down, the reality is small businesses are still struggling to keep the lights on. In fact, three out of every 10 small businesses say they are at risk of closing for good this year, according to a recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank. Recovery may be within reach thanks to vaccination rates steadily on the rise, but there is still a lot more work to do collectively.

Small businesses, big impact

You may not realize it, but small businesses generate nearly 50% of all U.S. economic activity. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, where nearly two out of every three new jobs are generated. While this channel may typically be thought of as predominately store-front locations, an exceedingly large number are white collar professional services. In fact, 96% of Captivate venues are made up of small business tenants. That’s nearly 40,000 companies in our U.S. footprint alone.

Obstacles and optimism

According to a recent survey, 44% of small business owners said securing new customers is their biggest concern, while 30% are troubled by the lingering economic impacts from the pandemic, and 21% are worried about lower sales and consumer demand.

But while there are obstacles to face, there is also optimism. Results from a new Office Pulse study shows the number of small business employees who think the worst of Covid-19 is behind us has jumped from 30% to 44% since the week of March 1. Since the week of Feb. 1, that jump is from 14% to 44%.

The study also found that on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being “Getting Better,” small business employees’ confidence in the business climate grew from 4.6 the week of Feb. 15 to 5.5 the week of March 15, a 20% jump in just 30 days. And the feeling of job security also increased from 5.7 the week of Feb. 15 to 6.0 the week of March 1.

An industry in need

In the U.S., May has historically been known as Small Business Month, highlighted by the SBA’s Small Business Week. Unfortunately, many small businesses had to cut their marketing budgets over the last 13 months due to the negative effect on their bottom line. While they understand advertising is a key driver in acquiring new customers, it is a luxury they simply cannot afford at this time.

So how can we as advertising and marketing professionals help?

It would be a disservice to our favorite local companies and entrepreneurs—not to mention a huge blow to the economy—if marketers don’t step in and use our media channels for their benefit. In support of Small Business Week/Month, Captivate will be using our platform to call attention to those businesses adversely impacted by the pandemic. Throughout the month of May, Captivate will launch the Small Business Spotlight and donate up to $1 million in advertising inventory to local business owners to promote their products/services on our network. Additionally, we will feature as many small businesses as possible in our SMB editorial series, spotlighting those who have pivoted through the pandemic and adapted to survive.

As we slowly shift into a post-pandemic reality, both personally and professionally, consider what you can do to uplift the small business industry during this critical time.

Lorenzo Papa is a media sales executive with over 20 years of experience in out-of-home. He has spent 15-plus years at Captivate where he is currently the chief revenue officer overseeing advertising monetization across North America.