Small Business Saturday isn't just a one-day event for consumers to shop locally. It's also a great opportunity for business owners to connect with customers and create meaningful relationships that keep shoppers coming back for more.
Taking place between Black Friday and Cyber Monday — when big box retailers and ecommerce, respectively, slash prices to attract holiday shoppers — Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30) encourages shoppers to support small, brick-and-mortar stores. As such, it's the best time for local merchants to strategize and grow their businesses.
Although retail giants and online stores take the opportunity this weekend to offer deep discounts during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, small business owners actually have the advantage, said Brad Smith, executive vice president of customer experience at Sage North America.
"When you think about it, business is about relationships, and small businesses typically have stronger ties with their local communities than do their larger counterparts," Smith said. "The upcoming Small Business Saturday presents a great opportunity for owners to connect face-to-face with existing and prospective customers in order to gain instant and long-term sales and happy customers."
The key to successfully establishing this connection is to make your actions and activities personal, Smith said. This means taking a moment to understand what a customer needs and delivering the best customer experience possible.
"That way, when consumers have to make choices about where and with whom they want to spend their money, they'll be more likely to choose the business they know well and trust," he said.
To help small businesses get the most out of Small Business Saturday, Smith offered the following tips on how to create and maintain customer relationships that last beyond the one-day event.
1. Be on your best behavior
Small Business Saturday has the potential to attract new customers and, as such, you should be prepared to shine. Be ready to showcase or offer samples of your best products or services, and pay particular attention to your customer service. You get one shot at impressing visitors, so don't spare any effort or any appropriate expense in achieving this goal.
2. Incentivize your customers
If you want to increase the probability of Small Business Saturday customers purchasing your products or services again, you may want to offer a gift or discount that they can redeem on their next visit. Consider investing in a point-of-sale (POS) system that automatically prints discounts along with the customer's receipt; this provides one efficient way to give out coupons. You can customize and program details for the coupon in advance, saving you the time and trouble of remembering to provide the coupon every time you help with customers' purchases.
3. Track Small Business Saturday customers and best-selling items
Keeping records of the clients who visit your business on Small Business Saturday can aid customer retention. For starters, be sure to get their email addresses, and put systems in place to track their purchases. This information gives you an opportunity to thank customers for shopping and reward them with exclusive offers. It also helps you better understand customers' shopping behaviors when planning how to retain their business.
4. Social media
Use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to promote your Small Business Saturday deals and encourage conversations about your business. Present your followers with a discount or gift when they visit you on Small Business Saturday, when they bring a friend along with them or when they recommend your business on their profiles. After Small Business Saturday, encourage people to write reviews of your business and their customer experience.
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.