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Cornish businesses hit hard by the second Covid-19 lockdown are hoping Google’s Dear Local marketing campaign will help keep them in the public eye. The campaign plays a key role in Google’s commitment to help Britain’s one million small businesses survive through the pandemic and beyond.

Customers are being asked to leave a Google My Business Review of their local traders online. The idea was inspired by research that revealed 70% of local business owners felt online recommendations and word of mouth were the best ways for customers to offer support during the Covid-19 crisis. A massive 51% of respondents felt online reviews would definitely boost their business. The study also shows 88% of Brits have experienced a “more positive connection” with their local area since being largely confined to home during the two lockdowns.

Launched on 27th October, The Dear Local campaign is fronted by British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua and actress Sheridan Smith. They are featured in TV adverts going into genuine local businesses to promote the importance of supporting them during the crisis – marked by the #DearLocal hashtag on social media.

What makes Cornish businesses so special?

Cornwall’s businesses have a largely unique nature and need the public’s support more than ever during these challenging times. With its pristine beaches, rich heritage, superfast broadband infrastructure, access to a hugely talented workforce and funding opportunities, the county is a highly sought-after location for business owners.

While many of its businesses revolve around tourism, it’s also a hub of tech businesses too. Since the Superfast Cornwall programme was launched in 2011, it has become the UK standard for high-speed broadband.

Cornwall’s leisure centres suffer “body blow”

Like everywhere else, life is a struggle at present for businesses in Cornwall. Leisure centres, in particular, have taken a massive hit due to the second lockdown.

Gyms, sports facilities and pools had only reopened from 25th July following the first lockdown. Owners hoped they might be exempt from closure and classed as an “essential business” to keep people mentally and physically well during the pandemic.

However, gyms had to close again on 5th November and won’t reopen until 2nd December at the earliest, when the government is hoping to ease the latest lockdown restrictions if cases of the virus have decreased sufficiently.

Challenges ahead for the tourism sector

Tourism industry chiefs in Cornwall have described 2020 as a “devastating” year. Although it picked up a little when the national lockdown eased in July, the sector has lost around £800 million. With takings down by about 40% on a normal year, Visit Cornwall’s chief executive, Malcolm Bell, says a bumper year is needed in 2021 to claw back some of the losses.

Bell said the only reason tourism businesses were keeping afloat was due to the government’s financial packages but this didn’t alter the fact that summer 2020, across the whole tourism and hospitality sector, had seen the county suffer “immense” losses.

How is Cornwall’s retail sector coping?

The second lockdown “couldn’t have come at a worse time” for Cornwall’s retailers as they began preparing for the Christmas boost, according to Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Retail Association.

He says small retailers need more support during this difficult period, as fears escalate that more festive trade will be lost to online businesses.

Cornwall’s pubs hit by Covid-19

© TJMShots / Shutterstock.com

St Austell Brewery, in Cornwall, revealed it was having to lay off up to 100 of its 1,000-strong workforce as a result of losing 90% of its revenue in 2020. It operates 170 pubs, hotels and inns, mainly around Cornwall.

Meanwhile, celebrity chef Tom Kerridge is hosting a new TV documentary, Saving Britain’s Pubs, on BBC2. It first aired on 12th November and showcased the plight pubs had faced due to Covid-19. Kerridge will look at pubs in rural Cornwall to see how they have been impacted and says they face “massive challenges”.

He believes one of the biggest issues for pub-owners has been understanding the changing rules throughout the pandemic, especially since the first lockdown ended and the three-tier system came in.

A normal Friday night would see the streets full of customers at 11pm, celebrating the start of the weekend. Now, the streets are deserted. Assistant Chief Constable Glen Mayhew says despite Cornwall’s low infection rate, there is “no room for complacency”.

How is Google’s Dear Local campaign helping?

The main thrust of the Dear Local campaign is increasing brand awareness for local businesses. Anthony Joshua, the two-time unified heavyweight world boxing champion, agreed to front the campaign because he wanted to support the area where he grew up.

The adverts show him using genuine local businesses and explaining the value of promoting their services. He describes how and why he feels a connection with each local business and encourages spending your money there, rather than at major national chains, so they don’t go under during the pandemic.

BAFTA-winning actress Sheridan Smith OBE said she had always loved her hometown of Epworth, so it was great that the campaign enabled her to highlight some of her favourite local businesses.

The idea of the Google campaign is simple: the television adverts are calling on viewers to support their favourite local businesses by leaving an online review. This is aimed at boosting trade for everyone and keeping them in the public eye.

The businesses who have had to close during lockdown will still receive publicity, so customers can be reminded of the brand in its absence and shop there again when the lockdown restrictions are eased.

Together, we can crack this

Here at the Cornwall SEO Co, we are dedicated to helping our local business community thrive. Tailored marketing campaigns will help struggling enterprises to secure a brighter future. If you’re a local business and you need a helping hand, we’re offering a 20% discount on any of our services for a minimum 10-hour contract.  Just use the code “20LOCAL” when enquiring – offer expires 23rd December 2020.

On a side note, we sincerely wish our fellow Cornish businesses a speedy recovery.

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