Thousands of small business owners across the country participated in Small Business Saturday, an annual event held on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Sponsored by American Express, it is intended to bring awareness to small businesses, and encourage patrons to skip big box retailers and shop small to support their local communities.
Small Business Saturday helped many companies attract new customers as well as potential leads. Instead of waiting for next Thanksgiving, business owners should act now to continue momentum into the holiday season and keep clients loyal throughout the entire year. Utilizing marketing emails, exclusive discounts, and “shop small” events are good strategies to stay in touch with new and potential customers.
An efficient, yet inexpensive way to communicate with your customers is through marketing emails. Sending marketing materials through the mail can be expensive, but with a little effort, you can send emails free or at a low cost. On Small Business Saturday, you likely urged your business’ patrons to sign up for email lists, and now is the time to utilize that list to reach out to them.
We recommend investing in a customer relationship management system (CRM), which will help you manage your client information, and send personalized emails with your customers’ contact information, in addition to recommendations based on their shopping history.
Many CRM programs offer A/B testing, which allows business owners to send two different marketing campaigns, and evaluate which was more popular based on clicks and purchase patterns.
When sending emails, remember that individuals are bombarded by hundreds of emails daily, so make your headlines catchy, funny, and enticing to open!
Exclusive Deals and Discounts
The reason that so many customers frequent local businesses during Small Business Saturday is because they are offered discounts and freebies. Business owners need to remember that discounts can, and should, be used throughout the year to incentivize sales. When customers believe that they are getting a deal, they are much more willing to spend their hard-earned money than if they believe they are paying full price.
How do you structure discounts? Shopify.com lists three main ways to increase foot traffic and maintain loyalty with discounts, which are:
- Promotional pricing – Discounts and bundle pricing, such as “buy one, get one free”
- Point-of-purchase displays – “Impulse buys” that individuals don’t plan on purchasing when they come into the store. Bins with small items next to the register are great incentives for point-of-purchase displays.
- Loyalty programs – Membership and punch cards, as well as a points system which reward customers with discounts or free items.
The holidays are the perfect time to organize events for your customers and potential leads. Planning a holiday party in your location will create a reason for you to invite Small Business Saturday patrons back to your location. In fact, one source claims that purchasing decisions are based more on emotions rather than on logic; therefore, face-to-face events allow brand owners to create an emotional connection to increase loyalty and drive sales.
Be creative and think of original ideas to drum up enthusiasm for your business; for example, IOU Financial held a scavenger hunt partnered with local discounts in Downtown Woodstock, GA.
One caveat is that holiday parties and other events can turn into a financial strain if not planned for properly. Opening the doors and allowing streetwalkers to come inside can quickly lead to hundreds of people sampling your goods without guaranteed sales.
Not many small business owners can allow themselves to host expensive events, especially during the holiday time. Therefore, it is essential to plan and budget for events; one strategy is to hold member-only events with a concise guest list that goes out only to the most important customers. Another way is to invite customers and ask them to RSVP, allowing access to the first 50 who respond.
Keep the line of communication open between you and the customers you met during Small Business Saturdays with marketing emails, discounts and events. Remember, the more effort you put into promoting your relationship with your clients, the more loyal they will remain to your brand.