Small Business Saturday is rapidly approaching, and with more than $16.2 billion in customer spending up for grabs, it makes sense to start planning now. As awareness and interest in supporting this day grow among consumers, so does the number of small businesses taking advantage of the event. The competition for sales on this day gets steeper each year.

Whether you are working in the B2B or B2C space, you can take advantage of this high-profile day by implementing a few simple strategies to generate traffic and interest in your goods and services.

In this Q&A, Kelly McCormick, a business and marketing strategist and author of OutSell Yourself: Ethical Business and Sales Techniques, has some insights for getting the best-bang-for-your-marketing-plan-buck come November 26.

 

Q. What are some of the biggest hurdles business owners face when marketing themselves and their businesses for Small Business Saturday?

A. People love special events, and Small Business Saturday plays right into that. The tough thing about it is that it has become a very crowded market. Back in 2012, more than 500,000 businesses participated in Small Business Saturday and that number has only increased since. Discounts, specials and/or extra services are tried-and-true ways to get customers excited, but most of your competition will be offering similar deals.

 

Q. What are the steps an entrepreneur should take to put together a marketing plan that will make them stand out on Small Business Saturday?

A. Most small businesses make the mistake of being too broad in their marketing message around the annual event. Don’t be afraid to get too niche. Understand your audience and who you are marketing to and go after them with laser focus.

The best way to avoid the marketing guessing game is to actually ask your audience what they want. Social media is a great place to gather this info. On Facebook, for example, post updates to let customers and prospects know you are putting together your Small Business Saturday specials, assuming those followers match your target demographics. Using Facebook’s multiple-choice survey feature, you can ask your network to rank which specials would motivate them to make a purchase. Keep your survey brief, with no more than five options. And be sure to ask your followers to post other ideas to your page.

For even more feedback, email a survey to your email list using one of the many on-line survey services, such as SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo. In both cases, offer an incentive, like an additional Small Business Saturday discount for completing the survey. Not only does the survey give you the ability to hone in on exactly what to offer, it also starts a buzz around your Small Business Saturday event.

 

Q. With so many digital marketing options, how can a business owner promote their Small Business Saturday deals?

A. If you’re using social media to promote your event, focus on the social platforms with the best success rate for your business. For example, if you have 1,000 Twitter followers, but only a handful of retweets or likes, and you have 500 Facebook followers and your posts get shares and comments, then focus your efforts on Facebook. You’ve got only so much time and energy—use it wisely.

There are so many ways to create awareness on social media. One effective approach is to use images of people using your products and services. Apps such as Piclay and PicLab make it easy to add text to your images to create quick, professional-looking posts. “Join us this Saturday for giveaways and discounts. Shop Small!” Make sure to add your website url, which leads to a page outlining the specials.

Facebook and YouTube make it possible to produce live videos. During the week leading up to Small Business Saturday, broadcast short teasers that give nuggets of helpful advice related to your product or service. As you end your video, you can then let people know you’ll be broadcasting live on Small Business Saturday, giving discount codes that they can use for your products and services.

Email is another powerful marketing tool. During the week prior to Small Business Saturday, send out a few email blasts offering, or announcing, your specials. If you don’t have a big email list, you can ask key supporters, affiliates and others to share your emails with their followers. The secret to getting this support is to provide pre-written email copy and offer an incentive for sharing your specials within their network.

In addition to the outreach you are doing to customers and prospects, hit your Rolodex of fellow small business owners with similar target markets. Perhaps they would be open to partner with you to offer package deals or cross-promote each other’s businesses. If so, you can tap into each other’s networks and create a cohesive and clear plan to market yourselves for Small Business Saturday. This could include sharing email lists or inviting the other business experts to share tips and info in live video broadcasts.

 

No matter how you choose to promote your Small Business Saturday event, create a constant and common message that you put into all your emails, flyers, social media posts and customer contact. Always give people consistent contact information so you can track how people are learning about your deals and improve your small business marketing strategy for 2017.

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