Butler County businesses get creative to reach customers while shut down

With the coronavirus pandemic keeping most people at home and many businesses shut down, local entrepreneurs are working on new ways to promote themselves and help their existing and potential clientele.

Thommy Long, owner of Hamilton-based graphic design and marketing agency LemonGrenade Creative, said he wanted to help out all the small businesses they serve throughout Butler County.

"I watch a lot of seminars and the biggest mistake that I see is when people have retail or restaurants or breweries that are closed, is that they just don't communicate at all with their customers," said Long, who launched the firm in 2015.

“Being silent is not the thing for them to do right now. Even if they’re not having any promotions, even if they’re not closed, they should still have some kind of social media presence that they miss ‘em and they’ll be back.”

Long said he met with Tiffany Grubb, director of membership and marketing for the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, to discuss ways LemonGrenade could help local businesses.

He said Grubb observed that small business owners cannot afford to spend marketing money in the middle of an economic crisis.

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That led them to devise "Free Lemon-Aid," a LemonGrenade outreach program to create up to three free social media and website graphics for other small businesses affected by the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, 30 businesses had reached out to the firm to take it up on the offer, which initially was set to expire May 1 but may be extended, Long said. A form to apply may be found at www.tinyurl.com/freelemonaid.

“It’s been great and … we didn’t plan on this happening, but a few of these people that we’ve given free design to have looked at what we’ve done and said ‘We’ve never seen our brand represented this way … (so) we’d like for you to do this, this and this,’” he said. “We’ve actually picked up businesses as clients from just giving them some free design work.”

Casey Thompson, owner of Beyoutiful Salon Barber Spa, said one of the attention-grabbing social media messages created by LemonGrenade has kept her Hamilton shop’s customers apprised that they’ll be the first to know when it re-opens.

"We got a great response on the post, in general," said Thompson, who opened the salon in Fairfield in 2012 and moved it to Hamilton in 2018. "Us keeping them informed, they appreciated it. On our end, it cuts down on a lot of uncertainty from our clients that we haven't forgotten about them."

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Grocer Jungle Jim’s International Market is turning to social media to keep its name out there in these rapidly changing economic times.

The business, which also has locations Fairfield and Clermont County’s Union Twp., will offer Facebook Live shows led by store experts and founder “Jungle” Jim Bonaminio.

“Jungle Jim’s prides itself on being a destination rather than a grocery store,” said Zack Cobb, the store’s creative director. “Hosting a Facebook Live Stream Series is our way of delivering that Jungle Jim’s spark to those at home.”

Aimed at grabbing the attention of home-bound residents looking to alleviate boredom, the series kicks off from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday with Eastgate Jungle Jim’s cheese expert Somer Wilson, who will walk viewers through the basics of creating a Movie Night Charcuterie board at home. Viewers may ask questions and learn more about creating the proper balance of cheese, meats and more.

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The series continues at 3 p.m. both April 22 with a live question-and-answer session hosted by Oscar Event Center Executive Chef James Trent, who will focus on topics suggested by Jungle Jim’s customers. The series finale on April 24 will be hosted by Jungle Jim himself at the Fairfield location, where he will discuss how he created the now-iconic store.

Customers may add to the conversation, as the goal is to cover numerous questions during the live stream.

Visit "Events at The Jungle" on Jungle Jim's Facebook page to learn more, then click the word "Going" on the event page to receive notifications when the live stream starts.

“Live streams are a great tool to interact with our customers on a personal level,” Cobb said. “The topics have been driven solely by their unique blend of talents, and they are very passionate about sharing with our audience.”

For Jungle Jim’s it’s not a matter of stepping up its game, so much as it’s adapting the game to be shared with as many people as possible, Cobb said.

“We want everyone to learn about the knowledge and passion our team has for these subjects,” he said. “More importantly, we want to give our customers an hour of food education paired with a side of joy, and what better time than now?”

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