by C. Daniel Baker, Black Enterprise
When Small Business Saturday (SBS) was introduced by American Express in 2010, it was an immediate success. With each year, the number of shoppers and businesses taking part grows. Experts predict as many as 100 million Americans will shop this year at small and local businesses on Saturday November 24. With so many small businesses taking part in SBS, how can your business attract customers and not stand out among the thousands of other small businesses taking part?
Social media is a great way for your business to let potential customers know not only that your business is taking part in SBS, but also what deals or specials you’ll be running. Using the #SmallBizSat hashtag is a great way to get your information to come up when users search for SBS. You’ll want your tweets to range from a general “We’re participating in SBS” to a more focused description of the specific words your customers would use, not marketing jargon. The same technique applies to Facebook, Tumblr and other social media sites. Make sure to update your page or header with the relevant information regarding your company. If you don’t clearly state that your company is a small business, customers will have no way of knowing and supporting you.
Having a mobile presence is more important than ever. Customers rely on their Smartphone’s and studies show that a company that doesn’t have a mobile site will lose potential sales. It’s important that a business make sure their mobile site or page is up to date along with Yelp and Foursquare pages. Pages should be light and load fast, without users having to scroll or zoom too much to access content and product information.
Most businesses have several social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, email newsletters, etc. Rather than posting the same message on each account, owners should take time and customize a message (even personalizing it if possible) and provide informational tips alongside your SBS specials. Engaging the customer in an organic conversation will encourage them to shop with you, as opposed to a cold promo blast that is simply pushing a product at them.
If your business has a physical presence, hosting a small event can boost foot traffic and sales. A simple, free gift or service such as a cup of coffee, a gift certificate, wine tasting, or free cookies can be the difference between the customer shopping with you or the next business for the same product. If possible, meet and greet your customer, so they can see the person behind the business. Engage your shoppers and follow up after the event so you can keep the conversation going through email or social media after the holidays.