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We know that many established local businesses have struggled to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. But, what about businesses that opened during the pandemic?

What would they need to successfully open a new business, market that business, and get people in the door during a time when people weren’t really leaving their homes?

For one business, this anxiety-filled scenario was a reality. The Axe And Ale, an axe-throwing bar in Fort Collins, Colorado, opened their doors on June 4 – just five days after restrictions for bars and restaurants were lifted in their area.

The Axe And Ale opened their doors during the pandemic and worked with LOCALiQ to make sure their marketing contributed to a healthy opening.

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We talked to The Axe And Ale owner Ross Ericksen and his LOCALiQ digital presence manager, Carson Dorsey, about the experience of opening and marketing a new business during the pandemic, how his LOCALiQ marketing solutions created a solid foundation for his business, and how his partnership with Dorsey and the LOCALiQ team made all the difference.

Establishing a Solid Foundation with Marketing

Carson Dorsey, a digital presence manager at LOCALiQ, helped The Axe And Ale market their new business and open sucessfully.

Carson Dorsey, a LOCALiQ digital presence manager, helped The Axe And Ale prepare to open their new business with online marketing strategies like social media, listings, and SEO.

Ericksen partnered with LOCALiQ to help him build his bar’s marketing strategy before the coronavirus pandemic. He was in need of a website, social media sites, and local listings for his business. The LOCALiQ team got to work building out his marketing strategy.

And then the pandemic struck.

Rather than hold off on his marketing efforts, Ericksen decided to move ahead – knowing that online marketing was going to be his main source for getting the word out about his business while people were largely staying home – and spending time online.

Dorsey and the rest of the LOCALiQ team spent this time building out his social media sites and website and getting his local listings nailed down so his web presence would be in tip-top shape ahead of launch.

“There was already some buzz about the bar opening, so we took advantage of that on social media,” said Dorsey.

The website team also proposed some games to Ericksen that bar patrons could play with their (socially-distanced) groups to help build out the website content and for use in social media promotions.

With a built-out, SEO-enhanced website, active social media sites, accurate local listings, and social media ads to build awareness and promote the bar, The Axe And Ale was ready to open.

Social Media’s Role in a Strong Opening

Ericksen credits Dorsey and his business’s social media pages with contributing to a successful partial-opening and keeping customers coming through the door.

A Facebook ad Axe And Ale ran with LOCALiQ to promote the opening of their new business.

“We have done very well at increasing awareness of our presence and capitalizing on people knowing that we exist and then actually showing up to throw, and I cannot thank [the LOCALiQ team] enough for helping to make this happen,” said Ericksen.

“I have had dozens of throwers tell me that they learned about The Axe And Ale from ads and posts on Facebook or other social media, and this would not be the case were it not for the efforts of [the LOCALiQ team].”

Dorsey also credits Ericksen with helping fuel that success on social media.

“After the opening, he sent hundreds of pictures and tons of content for us to promote on social,” said Dorsey. “It truly feels like a partnership.”

And that collaborative partnership has continued.

Ericksen noticed that many of The Axe And Ale’s customers were skewing male, so Dorsey and her team started sharing pictures from bachelorette parties that had taken place at the bar to further appeal to female customers.

A Facebook post LOCALiQ team shared for Axe And Ale to promote their new business.

The LOCALiQ team also proposed a college night, something Ericksen is looking into now that school is back in session, to get even more customers in the door.

Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, changing regulations, and the already-stressful process of opening a new business, it seems that Ericksen and his LOCALiQ support team have truly worked together to streamline marketing his new business – one of the reasons Dorsey loves what she does.

“Starting a business takes a lot of bravery and starting one amid a pandemic takes an axe-wielding hero! However, I believe marketing and entrepreneurship take creative minds. My background in music and the arts paired with his entrepreneurial spirit resulted in a collaborative match that allowed us to find unique ways to apply our content and expand their potential reach,” said Dorsey.

“I love seeing how I can integrate my creative side with marketing for local businesses to create a unique and effective digital presence.”

Carson’s Tips for Social Media Posts for a New Business

When it comes to marketing a new business – whether it’s a new business entirely or a new business location – these are some social media tips Dorsey has used for businesses like The Axe And Ale.

Share Progress Photos

When you’re opening a new business or new business location, you likely will be doing walkthroughs or at least drive-bys of your new location. This is a great time to take pictures and let your social media audience follow along with your progress.

The Axe And Ale shared progress photos on their social media sites to promote the opening of their new business during the pandemic.

“Social media is your digital storefront. You want to make sure that potential clients are getting a sneak peek of the actual experience you offer. They want to identify with you. In this case, showing how Ross and his family were building the targets from scratch and the transformation of the new venue gave users a story to follow. A story they become emotionally invested in,” said Dorsey.

Start Pushing Your Open Date as Soon as You Know It

While there may be delays when it comes to opening a new business, once you have a firm date, start promoting it on social media. Post a countdown, share pictures of your location coming together, or share short social media videos from you or your team talking about how excited you are for the opening and what they can expect.

The Axe And Ale built suspense for their opening through social posts created by the LOCALiQ social media marketing team.

“In this case, we made sure to constantly post coming soon updates timed with official announcements about Colorado restrictions lifting. That way users became accustomed to checking in on our progress and open date which effectively built a sense of suspense. Ross ended up having to turn people away to accommodate the initial half capacity mandates!” said Dorsey.

Run Social Media Ads

When you’re opening a new business, you’re probably starting your social media sites from scratch, which means your audience is fairly limited. By running social media ads, you can target users who would be interested in your business to grow your audience, increase awareness for your new business, and (hopefully) drive customers once your business opens.

The Axe And Ale ran Facebook ads with LOCALiQ to build awareness for their new business opening during the pandemic.

“Social media, specifically Facebook, cannot grow swiftly without some paid budget. Facebook is intentionally designed this way. However, a little bit of budget can go a long way,” said Dorsey.

“It is imperative that organic content and paid media work in tandem. Paid media allows you to define your target audience and get their attention, but your organic page and creative content is what gets them through the door and coming back for more!”

This is just one example of how our teams are supporting local businesses across the country. Carson and the team’s dedication to helping The Axe And Ale open successfully through collaboration, creative ideas, and a strong marketing background give you a glimpse into what it’s like to work with LOCALiQ and our marketing experts. To learn more about how our teams can help your business succeed, reach out to schedule a free marketing assessment today.

PS: Read more about The Axe And Ale’s results with LOCALiQ in this case study.

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