In a pandemic, when physical contact is frowned upon and social distancing is encouraged, more than ever technology can help small businesses connect with customers and even grow.

For the Dec. 10 “Good Morning, Yuma!” virtual event, the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce invited local experts to share hi-tech tips and tricks that can help small businesses maximize their exposure, reach and customer service in the digital world.
The speakers included Jon Perry, “chief geek” and owner of Imaginary Friends Design Studio and Print Zoom; [sic] and more.


During this pandemic, Perry has been “championing” virtual tours. The local businesses that are hesitant to have people come into their brick-and-mortars can have customers “walk” through virtually.
Customers can peruse the goods on the shelves, and if they find something they like, they can click on a hot link that takes them to the company’s website, where they can purchase the item.
Perry pointed to Arizona Lighting Company and Jay’s Party Shops as examples of Yuma businesses that are doing this.
Equipped with cameras with nine lenses, it takes Imaginary Friends from one to three hours to conduct the 360-degree scans necessary for virtual tours.
Perry also encourages businesses to up their social media engagement. He recommends following the 411 rule: for every “hard” sale push and every “soft ask,” post four pieces of useful information. Share a secret sauce, share a tip, post about the sale that someone else is having, promote a partner or a nonprofit. Find content that’s already out there that’s related to the industry and share that as well.


Perry noted that collaboration is important and can be leveraged in the digital world. He suggests working with a couple of nonprofits because not only does this enhance a company’s image and brand, it puts out the nonprofit’s message to the public.
“It’s good to see communities collide when an opportunity arises,” he said.
For example, Perry worked with local schools to make graduation yard signs last school year. It fostered community pride and gave joy to families.
“If there’s ever a time to do something, it’s kind of now. If there’s a chance that comes your way, take advantage of it. It’s inexpensive as far as a financial investment to get started with anything today. It may take a lot more elbow grease than people understand, but the digital opportunities are leveling the playing fields,” Perry said.