If you haven’t already, consider participating this year in Small Business Saturday to kick the Holiday season off to a good start. You can even use Small Business Saturday to launch a bigger campaign that will keep patrons coming back throughout the holidays and into the New Year.
(Click the image to view the full size infographic)
(Click to watch the recording of the November 12th, 2014 webinar)
What will you do beyond Small Business Saturday?
Make sure your customers know what your plans for the future are when they come and visit you on November 29th. Give them a reason as to why they should come back, or at least give them the tools they need to stay up to date.
Modify your promotion, or offer free shipping, for Cyber Monday; give a free gift for the holidays during your mid-December promo; reward customers for their holiday business in the beginning of January; and sweeten the pot by rolling out a Valentine’s Day offering at the end of January.
You don’t have to start here, but knowing what you’ll be doing after small business saturday will give you answers to “why people should keep in touch with you” after the big day.
Lure them in
If your aim is to create a long-lasting relationship with the people who’ll be coming into the store on November 29th, then get them in the store by promoting how your product is unique, or how you’re a part of the community rather than focusing simply on a discount or a promotion.
Give them a “behind the scenes” look at how your business works. Have artisan available to show how a featured product in your shop is actually crafted. Or, if your store sells handmade scarves, have a demonstration of all the ways you can wear it. Join efforts with one or more neighboring stores to co-market and make Small Business Saturday into a bigger event.
Last year, communities got together to create a Passport system, Family Days, Fun Runs and even a kickoff breakfast – how they did it and materials to help your community emulate their success are available online.
Get the word out
After you sign up for Small Business Saturday, you’ll get access to tools that will help you get people into your store, visit your website and find your business.
Get signs printed, tell friends and family, send out emails, share the news on Facebook and Twitter, post pictures on Pinterest and Instagram (The official hashtag is #shopsmall). And ask friends to share for added savings. Depending on the level of involvement within the community, consider inviting local press to the event.
Know your customers
The cashiers at the grocery store where I shop once a week don’t know my name. Nor do I know theirs. But I know about the local farmer who has her stand every week. And she knows me: she asked me for my email address and sends me messages to say what’s in season and how I can use the new type of chard I just picked up.
Of course, if she hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t be making my chard pesto. But the only way to get the information is to ask – so make sure it’s easy for them to give it to you. Get your customers’ emails while they’re waiting to pay, right next to your register. before every transaction. Have a signup form on your website (“Want to read similar articles? Sign up for our newsletter.”) and near much product shelves (“Want updates when new stuff gets in the store? Product not in stock? Enter your email here to receive a notification when it’s available”). These are the prompts that make me signup most often.
Don’t forget to show your visitors the different places where they can find you online. Provide links to your website, Facebook page, Twitter profile, Instagram account or Pinterest board on receipts, business cards and pamphlets.
Once you get their email address, quickly email them to confirm they are the right person to receive your emails. Make sure to say thanks for visiting your shop, for being a repeat and loyal customer (or for being a new customer!) and for signing up for your e-newsletter.
You should aim to send an email to your contacts once a month: this helps you maintain a conversation and dialogue with people who are interested in what you do, and tell them what’s new.
Get to know your customers better by asking them questions that are engaging. See which emails they open and which links they clicked on to send them emails on similar topics, or use information you know about them to tailor the emails you send to their specific interests.
Since one of the reasons people visit small businesses is for the personal service, it’s important to extend your personal touch beyond the four walls of your brick and mortar place of business.
Customer engagement – dialogue and meaningful exchanges – have the long-term effect of promoting sales. Be purposeful in your approach to engaging and enticing customers to choose your business, this holiday and beyond. Sign up to be a Small Business Saturday participant and get the newsletter templates by creating your CakeMail account or by downloading the Small Business Saturday newsletter template.