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Article · Nov 21, 2015

How to enjoy Small Business Saturday success all year long

How to enjoy Small Business Saturday success all year long

Small Business Saturday is a great event, but it’s a little like the shooting star you see flash across the dark night sky – it’s gone in an instant.

So instead of relying on Small Business Saturday to put a big dent in your total holiday sales, see it as a way for you to leverage other people’s money to promote your small business. It’s not everyday you get a major global corporation to throw its weight behind promoting local small businesses.

With this in mind, not only do you need to carefully consider how you merchandise your store, make sure your customer service is in top form and find ways to give customers a sense of why they should shop your store year around.

Customer service
Frankly, if you want to be truly competitive today, you need to consistently provide world-class customer service, so consider this advice applicable all year long. Small Business Saturday just gives you an opportunity to revisit what you’re doing to be sure that it measures up.

Presumably, you’ll have a good volume of customers coming through your store on Small Business Saturday. Do you have the staffing to adequately meet their needs? Will buyers find themselves in lines waiting to check out? If you haven’t yet adopted mobile pay via tablets or smartphones, this might be the ideal time.

I’m always impressed when I see employees jump into action and start helping people in line by using mobile payment technology. I don’t know if it’s much faster than opening a second cash register, but I think it does make a more dramatic impression on customers!

Along with helping people make their purchases quickly, be sure that you have enough sales help on the floor. I don’t think there is anything more annoying in retail than having to hunt down someone for help.

Know your stuff
Not only do you need enough sales associates on the floor, they need to be well trained and have the kind of positive attitude that makes your customers enjoy and benefit from their interactions.

Your sales associates are in some ways the “shock troops” that will help you win the war against online shopping. As I said, they need to be knowledgeable, likeable and trained to deal with “web rooming” situations – that’s when shoppers come into your store, find items they like and then go online to compare prices.

If you’re going to have some featured items on sale for Small Business Saturday, be sure your price is among the lowest when people start to compare. If you don’t, Small Business Saturday could backfire on you.

Further, define a policy on web rooming. You could, for example, have a low price match guarantee. However, along with this your sales associates need to be savvy enough to discern the differences between similar products. If you’re selling the deluxe widget, you don’t want to accidentally price match it to the entry-level widget.

As I said above, you want Small Business Saturday to be “the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” if I can quote Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca.” There are some strategies that will help you achieve this.

Promote your social media accounts. Have your social media IDs on every piece of printed material customers walk away with. You might also have a computer set up with an auto-play Powerpoint presentation that scrolls through your social media pages, especially if you feature great photography on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.

Ask for email list signups. Have a computer handy to capture email addresses, or even a clipboard or guest book. Let customers know that you often circulate coupons or sales notices only to your newsletter recipients.

To encourage social media followers and newsletter signups, have some kind of contest for new names.

I’ve outlined some specific strategies you can use that will help you leverage the increased traffic of Small Business Saturday for better business throughout the year. So as you get ready to open your doors on Nov. 28, think of the day as an audition and you want to win a role in people’s lives that’s long running.

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Susan Solovic

Susan Solovic – The Small Business Expert – is a woman of many talents. She's an award-winning serial entrepreneur, a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, top 100 and USA Today bestselling author, a media personality, a sought-after keynote speaker, and an attorney. She was recently named in the Top 10 of SAP’s “Top 51 Potential Human Influencers” and she consistently ranks in the top five of the “Top 100 Small Business Experts to Follow on Twitter.” In addition to running her business, Solovic serves as the media director for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, an advocacy, research, education and networking organization dedicated to protecting small business and promoting entrepreneurship. For more than 20 years, the SBE Council has worked to strengthen the ecosystem for small business success.

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