Alternatives to Small Business Grants For Maui Business Owners

On behalf of the team at Nick Ponte Marketing, I want to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving. This isn’t the kind of year-end any of us wanted, but if you stop to think about it, there’s always more to be thankful for than we think.

Last week was the deadline to submit paperwork to participate in the Maui County Adaptability Fund. We encouraged several local business owners we knew to participate. 

Unlike loans, business grants don’t need to be paid back. If you can make a persuasive case that a grant would help your business grow, you can sometimes find the money you need to take one more step in the right direction.

If you missed that deadline, however, there are still other options to take the sting off our prolonged battle with COVID-19.

If you’re a new reader, welcome! I am the founder and CEO of Nick Ponte Marketing, a trusted company based in Maui that generates more customers, sales, and leads for local businesses through proven marketing strategies.

We’ve spent many years helping businesses in Hawaii retool and restructure. Specializing in Search Engine Optimization, building websites, Pay Per Click advertising, and Social Media Marketing, the creative team here at Nick Ponte Marketing are experts at turning your local business into a global one, through the power of technology.

Why Brick-and-Mortar Companies Are Going Digital

Before I share with you some of the funding sources still available to you through grants, I think it’s good to ask the question: “How ‘digital’ is your business?”

While I don’t pretend to know your circumstances, there might be some financially doable, less stressful solutions in front of you than asking the government for grants. By all means, claim as much debt relief and free capital as you can get your hands on … but don’t forget what got you started in business in the first place. (Hint: It wasn’t them.)

In other words, be willing to consider how you can use the same drive and eagerness you have for your local customers, to serve new customers around the world. I’ve got a few ideas you could consider, that don’t cost a lot, to get started.

  • Organic SEO

If you’re new to the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it can feel intimidating and overwhelming. It was a big investment before COVID-19, but the evidence piled up afterward that those who invested prior to the pandemic profited the most when everything changed and we began doing more than half our purchasing from home.

We don’t know how long this pandemic will last, but at the time of writing, it appears to be part of a new reality. It’s not the one any of us would choose … but it isn’t going away, either. And if you’re an entrepreneur, you need to think about how to adapt to this, whether you like it or not. 

One way or the other, solid SEO for the digital wing of your business is essential, if you want to live to fight another day.

This handy document we’ve prepared for organic SEO should give you some idea of where to start, if you’re doing this on a shoestring. But if you’re a little further along, and time is more scarce than money, we’ve been helping clients do this for years – click here to schedule a call.

  • Organic Social Media

By now it must be clear – social media can play a huge role in your continued success. Your local audience in Maui is on it, as well as every tourist group that still manages to make it out here.

Many companies still don’t understand the “human factor” of social media – which is funny, when you consider that no other creatures use it. That aside, the organic reach of sites like Facebook, InstaGram, YouTube and Twitter gives you the opportunity to stay “top-of-mind” with the people in your community.

Just remember – as long as you can be social, and not sales-y, you can start and reinforce a solid bond with your marketplace. It’s okay to make a special post, if you’re running a limited-time offer, or something for the holidays. But day-to-day, you want to share content that’s inspiring, humorous, relatable and uplifting.

  • Social Media Advertising

If there’s room in your budget to start running ads, we’ve prepared a report on the most up-to-date methods of how it’s done. Like many things, it’s “harder than it looks” – but we know people who’ve seen some success, armed with a basic understanding. A lot depends on your business’ product or service, and how narrow or broad your audience needs to be.

What’s cool about paid ads is that they’re responsive to consumers’ behavior outside the social media sites. The Facebook Pixel observes what captures people’s interest elsewhere in cyberspace, and it programs relevant ads accordingly. If someone views your website, for example, but doesn’t buy anything, paid ads will show up later when they log into Facebook – to “remind” them of what they looked at earlier.

  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Available with Google and other search engines, PPC advertising helps you “brand for free and generate leads for pennies on the dollar,” when compared with traditional advertising.

Let’s say you run an ad on Google. Your audience will become familiar with your brand name subconsciously, even if they don’t click on it. In that case, you don’t have to pay for impressions; you keep chipping away at your ad copy, until people begin to click on it.

We don’t mean to make this sound simpler than it is … you’re going to need good branding, a compelling offer and a systematic funnel for capturing your leads. But you can make some moves in that direction by learning about PPC and getting your feet wet.

We’re also here to help with PPC, if you need it. Don’t forget – for many local businesses, you don’t need to stop at the beachfront, or Oahu, or even the mainland. Tech-based solutions like social media, PPC and SEO frequently turn local businesses into global ones … and that makes all the difference.

For all your digital marketing needs – if you’re too busy to learn, execute and manage these details – give us a call.



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