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Tucked cleverly between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday (SBS) on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011. Started last year, SBS helps small business owners create awareness and demand for their products and services during the important holiday shopping opener. It’s also a welcome show of support for small businesses eager to help lead the country out of its protracted recession. In fact, almost three-quarters of small business owners believe they will be the driving force behind a U.S. economic recovery, according to the FedEx Office Sign of the Times national small business survey.
Free marketing tools and ideas
Last year, as part of SBS, more than 100,000 small businesses downloaded free marketing materials from program founder American Express and primary sponsor FedEx. 10,000 businesses signed up for free Facebook advertising, and small retailers who participated in the SBS program saw a 28 percent increase in sales that day compared with the year before.
Want to make this Small Business Saturday one of your biggest sales days of the year? By using some of the free marketing tools and ideas below, you’ll let your customers—targeted and existing—know you're participating in Small Business Saturday and give them the related benefits and chances to win.
1. Free Facebook tools
Check out the For Your Biz page of Small Business Saturday on Facebook and get free in-store signage and e-marketing materials. Plus, get $100 worth of free geo-targeted Facebook ads to help bring "likes" and customers to your small business via special offers or promotions.
2. Social media strategies
Use powerful—and free—social media to your advantage by creating a Facebook Business Page. Share your business story through a YouTube video you create with My Business Story from Google and American Express, turn your customers into followers on Twitter (just add the Follow button to your website), and find out what people are saying about your business with YourBuzz.
3. E-mail campaign
Create a compelling offer or interesting news bit and e-mail it to a qualified list of customers and prospects. Many websites offer free e-mail design templates to get you started. And while you can purchase e-mail lists, the addresses from brokers can be costly. It’s better to build your own qualified list of existing customers and people who opt in. Design an attractive e-mail marketing subscription form (again, templates are online), place it prominently on your Web page, and offer an incentive for signing up (for example, create an e-newsletter full of useful information).
4. Promotion or special event
Create a special event or promotion to attract customers. For example, host a guest appearance by a designer, author or other guest (who may agree to appear free in return for the publicity they will receive). You can also offer special services such as free gift wrapping, feature holiday merchandise, provide a flat discount or gift with purchase or use another inventive way to bring customers to your door (check out your competitors’ tactics). Use the free signage available on Facebook and an email campaign to let your customers know about the event.
5. FedEx gift-card giveaway
This year, FedEx is the premier sponsor of SBS, giving away $1 million in Shop-Small American Express gift cards (each worth $25) to selected customers and to 30,000 consumers through a Facebook promotion on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Remind your customers you’ll gladly accept Shop-Small gift cards.
For more information about other solutions for small businesses, visit the FedEx Small Business Center or FedEx Online Retail Solutions website to access a wealth of online-retail-industry knowledge and best practices.
Debbie Kuehn is a Twin Cities-based freelance writer covering a wide range of topics in a variety of industries, including retail, financial services, home improvement and many more.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FedEx.
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