While major retailers are gearing up for Black Friday, small businesses are hoping to attract customers to their stores and boost sales this weekend with Small Business Saturday. A new effort spearheaded by American Express OPEN to help revive the small business sector, the organization is urging consumers to support local small businesses, and urging small businesses to boost their marketing efforts throughout this weekend and the holiday season.
“About 65% of net new jobs created during the last two decades were created by small businesses,” says Rosa Sabater, senior vice president at OPEN. “We want customers to commit to walking into a small business on November 27 and beyond,” she adds. Sabater also notes the impact patronizing a small business can have on a local community, stating, for every dollar spent at a small business, 68 cents goes back into the community.
So, what can small business owners do to attract consumers and keep up the momentum throughout the year? Sabater offers these tips:
Capture data: Don’t let a new customer–or any customer for that matter–walk out of your store without at least trying to capture their contact information, says Sabater. You can do so by incentivizing customers to leave a business card or ask for a phone number and email address. “This way you can create a loyalty program,” she says. Update customers on special promotions, coupons or new products that may be of interest.
Spruce up the customer service: Good customer service can keep consumers loyal even through economic hardships. It can also be a competitive advantage during the bustling holiday season when larger retailers have an influx of shoppers. Use this time to personalize the shopping experience for each customer. Train or re-train your employees on how to be attentive and communicate with shoppers. Also, try to follow up with customers after their shopping experience to gauge satisfaction.
Bundle packages: While it can be difficult for small businesses to offer the deep discounts like larger retailers, see if there are any products or services that can be bundled. How can you provide added value to what you offer?
Play to your strengths: Understand what your positioning is, says Sabater. While there isn’t one hard and fast rule for maximizing the customer experience or sales, figure out what differentiates your business in the marketplace and build your holiday strategy around that offering.
Tap into your network: Be sure to ramp up your marketing strategy leading up to and throughout the holiday season. If you have an email database or a strong social network, connect with your audience to let them know of the specials. OPEN also has downloadable materials and social media tools to help promote your business.