Small Business store

On November 25, Small Business Saturday is all set to benefit small business owners in the United States, Canada, and the UK. It’s an event that has been around since 2010 and launched by American Express to counter the big box retail days known as Black Friday and Cyber Mondays.

As a small business owner, this is your day to shine. With excellent marketing planning and strategy, you can bring in a lot of sales just like that of Cyber Monday or Black Friday! Last year (2016) there were more than 6,700 small shops and stores and 480 organizations that signed up to participate, which was a 63% increase from 2014. Awareness of this unique shopping day was reported at 72% on a national level, with an astounding 112 million customers enjoying special treats and discounts and spending an estimated $15.4 billion!

Here are some tips on how you can take advantage of this once-a-year international day of shopping for small businesses.

Market Heavily Online

Although Small Business Saturday targets brick and mortar shops, you can and should use the Internet to create advanced promotions and marketing to as many people as you can reach. You have the advantage that Small Business Saturday falls in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so consumers have not depleted their savings yet and are still hot for deals primarily with the holidays fast approaching.

Decide on the items you can give huge discounts on and post them on social media and your website if you have one. Join active local online campaigns for Small Business Saturday, such as those from credit card companies, newspapers, and community newsletters, to name a few. Make regular announcements that include teasers of the freebies, and attractions consumers can enjoy when they walk through your doors on November 25.

Now is the best time to get professional help because the competition has become so fierce. It’s not just local and national competition, but even international consumers who are starting to dictate who gets the sale or not. Fortunately, international buyers don’t care very much about the size of a business as long as it is run correctly, upright and ethically upholds standard business practices. Thus, a good image is critical to your online success and Planned Growth Small Business Services could help take advantage of this Small Business Saturday and expand your online market.

Start a Text Messaging Campaign

Text messaging is a powerful marketing tool because it can reach more American consumers than email, TV, print ads, and even social media. In fact, studies show that 98% of those who receive text messages open the message to read it; so if your message is short, catchy, and enticing, they won’t trash it and may even forward it to friends and family. And don’t forget to use the hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday!

Consider Bundle Marketing

If you have a lot of inventory and you want to move slow items, bundle them with favorite items! However, always make the products available individually and display them prominently alongside the bundled package. This way, you don’t make the shopper feel forced to buy something just to get that one item. They will feel scammed. The best strategy is to give them the option to choose.

Partner with a Worthy Cause

There’s still the option to to partner with a charity or neighborhood cause that will benefit both parties. You can offer part of the proceeds to the charity or give exclusive discounts to anyone who donates to the charity or cause.

Offer Personalized Services

If you are located in a cluster of shops, offer special services like package deposit, home delivery within a particular area, gift wrapping, free parking, free drinks or cookies, seats for tired feet, VIP check-out, daycare, and a dedicated space for husbands, wives, partners, the elderly, or children who can sit and relax but still feel part of the community while the other half goes shopping! These small details can mean big loyalty for the future.

E-mail Marketing signEmail marketing to get more traffic to your landing pages is still effective. According to Campaign Monitor when done right, email marketing can bring $38 for every advertising dollar you spend and an ROI of 3800%!

If you compare email marketing to social media, hands down email marketing will win! In the first place, social media marketing is so competitive and kinda messy. You get better control using email marketing and a quick direct line to your market.

Here are 4 tips on how to turn your email marketing efforts into a successful campaign that will draw in higher traffic and potentially better sales!

Tip #1 Do consider email marketing automation but be very discerning with your choice of automation tool.

Email marketing automation works and can even get you results such as 150% higher click rate and 451% increase in qualified leads. These kinds of tools are used by more than 40% of top companies across the globe – with tremendous results. Just look at what email marketing automation can do for you:

  • Improve customer retention
  • Assist with your social media marketing efforts
  • Boost traffic to landing pages
  • Increase revenues

Tip #2 Segment your products and messages with email marketing. Most companies have more than one message or product to relay to their market. With emails, you can focus on specific items, highlight their advantages, and target the right kind of leads. With analytics, you will be in an excellent position to know what kind of email to send to your network which means your analytics, automation, and emails should all be coordinated.

Tip #3 Subscribers come and go. Don’t dismay and know how to use it to your advantage. When a person subscribes, it shows interest in what you have to show and say. When a person unsubscribes, it only means this person has figured out that he or she does not need the information or product you are marketing. Great! This allows you to hone in and fine-tune your target market, assess your marketing and emails, and improve on your campaigns.

Tip #4 Long subject lines are okay and even better in some instances. The traditional train of thought is “short is better” based on memory retention and available space. However, research from Return Path shows that while the average subject line length is 41 to 50 characters, the subject lines that are personalized with 61 to 70 characters garnered the highest read rate!

Take these tips and work them into your email marketing campaign for higher traffic to your landing pages.

A survey given to professional marketers in the United States reveal that in 2017, the most crucial digital marketing investment to seriously consider is a brand website. More than 62% say that having a website is the most effective way to reach your target market although one must not exclude email marketing and the use of social media. This three-prong approach is, by far, a must-have when defining your marketing goals for 2017.

The Unbranding of a Brand Website

There is nothing new about having a brand website. It is a long-term investment that demands time, resources, and fresh dollops of creativity and uniqueness in order to attract your desired market. Probably the main reason why anyone would balk at creating a brand website is the overall cost. In 2017, the trend will be to “uncommercialize” your brand website so you focus more on the soft sell rather than the hard sell. It will still require some investment and possibly a mindset adjustment.

Fortunately, there are ways to build your brand website without spending a fortune or making ghastly unbranding marketing errors. The basics of branding for 2017 include:

  • Branding is constantly evolving, a mental perception others have of your business
  • Effective branding will sell your business as one of the – if not the go-to website – in your respective industry
  • Subtle digital branding affirms your credibility and boosts loyalty

Branding should supply the following answers:

  1. My business is known and appreciated because ______.
  2. People share and talk about my product because _____.
  3. My products can influence the positive actions of others because _____.

Your brand website should be able to establish a connection between you and your customers. If you can do this, you will make it easier to realize your 2017 business goals.

Enhancing your eMail Marketing Plan

Still connecting to the trend of humanizing business in the global market is the new trends in email marketing. Instead of trying to solicit interest and business by sending out digital flyers through the email channel, the idea is to tell a story without misleading or falsely representing your business.

Today, people would rather follow an unknown brand that is truthful and transparent but able to emotionally connect with its visitors than follow a brand that is cold and demanding. Thus, instead of flashy advertising and marketing gimmicks, consider real tones from real people veering away from the strategy of “Buy, buy, buy!”

Focus on the value rather than the quick sale.

Social Media in 2017

This year will be the year of personalized content.  This will require the intense use of analytics and profiling to get the marketing mix right. Businesses with a defined market (doctors, architects, mothers, students) will have an easier time finding the perfect content compared to businesses that cater to a wider spectrum. However, with good organization, personalized content is very manageable.

At the same time, there is a move towards more interactive content which should help tremendously in building brand awareness.

Marketing in 2017 should also include venture into virtual reality or the 360 degree video. Using one of the GoPro cameras (or its equivalent) makes it easier for small to medium business owners to improve their content with quality videos.

Finally, Livestreaming has taken a life of its own as more and more people are using it to market their brand. This option makes it easier to “tell your story.”

If you are planning your marketing for 2017, do consider these ideas and add them to your goals for the year. These are certain to help you develop deeper relationships with existing customers and expand your customer base by offering value over the typical hard sell.

Most businesses go through at least one period a year when sales are low and there is hardly any activity in the office or store. The dreaded off season is a challenge not only in trying to stretch your dollar to meet all financial obligations and business overhead expenses, but in staying busy and keeping the business from looking like a 24/7 graveyard shift.

There are four goals you can work on during off season which will pay huge dividends for when your sales start to pick up. In fact, it is even possible that by achieving at least one of these goals, you will be able to cause sales to pick-up and shorten the off season period!

Goal Number One: Start working on upgrades and/or renovations

If your business sorely needs a facelift, this is the time to do it. You will have to plan this carefully during your peak season so your cash flow does not suffer.  Although if you want to work on upgrades right now because it is your off season, start with low-cost changes. These could be:

Goal Number Two: Expanding your network and database

The time to grow your database is when you don’t have to go heavy on marketing. Build your email marketing list, convert visitors to your website to subscribers, get in touch with previous buyers and remind them you are still around, and push hard on new and valuable content to generate leads.

You can also work on improving your calls-to-action or CTAs with a blog or tempting offers. Basically, you have to work on improving traffic and quality of traffic. You want to get the right people to your business site; potential customers or clients.

Goal Number Three: Solicit Reviews and Testimonials

If you have been in business even for a few months, you will be able to gather reviews and feedback from previous customers. Just be careful not to overwhelm them with requests for reviews or you could get tagged as a spammer. This is a critical phase in any business because today’s consumers are using reviews to help them decide on a purchase. Around 70% check online reviews before buying while 88% say that reviews have changed their buying decisions.

There are different ways to generate customer reviews:

  • Chat with them if possible through email or when they are on your website
  • Make it easy and simple for people to post reviews
  • Post comments and thank those who offer reviews. In fact, answering negative reviews show a pro-active stance of a business owner who is not close-minded and willing to listen

Goal Number Four: Keep your social channels active and dynamic

There is one huge misconception about social media. A report released last September revealed that Millennials are not shopping through their social media accounts! However, this does not mean that social media should be abandoned. On the contrary, social media is all about branding and brand awareness. Thus, keep working on your social media marketing because consumers are learning about exciting products and promotions through their social media accounts – and they are on their social media accounts at least one hour a day.