Are You Ready to Promote Small Business Saturday? - Page 2

By Jamie Bsales
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As part of the Small Business Saturday promotion, YourBuzz will offer additional ways for small businesses to market themselves online. For example, you'll get $200 in free advertising credits on two online platforms where discussions about small businesses take place: $100 credit for LinkedIn Ads (for the first 6,500 business owners that register) and $100 in additional advertising credits on Facebook (in addition to the aforementioned Facebook ad credits). Business owners will also get free offerings or 50 percent off of any package from Pagemodo, a company that helps small businesses create professional Facebook Pages.

Back in the bricks-and-mortar universe, the business owner toolkit will also include downloadable, point-of-purchase displays for small businesses to let customers know you are involved in the initiative. The displays will allow merchants to include their own branding, details about their business, and any special offers they are promoting for Small Business Saturday.

Customizable email templates will also be made available for businesses looking to conduct email campaigns to customers and prospects. And FedEx Office has announced a special 20-percent savings on all Small Business Saturday materials that can be printed via FedEx Office Print Online. The offer extends to all online print orders through November 26.

Other Small Business Saturday Strategies

Of course, you shouldn't rely solely on the offerings in the Small Business Saturday toolkit to ramp up interest. Forge your own path by signing up with a leading small business email marketing service such as Constant Contact. The service's online tools let you execute email marketing campaigns and gauge the results, including the ability to track which users opened a given email.

You can even make any word or phrase in the email a hyperlink, which lets you see what verbiage clicked with your audience. There are a host of pre-designed templates for a range of email types (newsletter, promotions, events and so on), and you can build recipient lists by location, interest categories, or other criteria you've tagged each customer with. And if you are planning an in-store event for Small Business Saturday, Constant Contact Event Marketing will help you professionally promote and efficiently manage registrations and RSVPs.

Another option is iContact, which offers email marketing, social media marketing, contact management and more. It features MessageBuilder, a drag-and-drop tool that lets you build great-looking custom messages, no HTML coding required. The company also recently introduced built-in social media analytics tools for small businesses to publish, schedule and track their social media marketing efforts on Facebook and Twitter, either as standalone campaigns or integrated with their email marketing programs.

If you want potential customers to find you as they search for local businesses, turn to a service such as ReachLocal. As part of its offerings, ReachLocal provides small businesses with a service for creating online marketing and advertising campaigns, ideal to promote your store for Small Business Saturday. ReachLocal's ReachCast service lets you connect with consumers via Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, YellowPages.com and so on, and it includes analytics so you can measure its effectiveness.

Once you've got them in the store, you'll want to keep shoppers informed about specials and promotions. One impressive way to do that is with state-of-the-art digital signage. For that, look to SignChannel by Scala, a do-it-yourself digital signage service that lets small business retailers implement a promotional system with very little effort in a short amount of time.

SignChannel includes pre-designed templates that allow you to create professional-looking promotions and manage your content online, and download them to SignChannel-certified display devices via Wi-Fi when you're ready. Digital signs are more engaging than handwritten messages on a blackboard at the door, and much more flexible than pre-printed traditional signage that can't be changed on the fly.

And if Small Business Saturday has your business hopping, you'll want to be sure the check-out process can keep pace. Of course, lining up more cash registers for peak demand is not practical or cost-effective, but Verizon Wireless and Intuit have a solution. With Intuit GoPayment, it's possible for your employees to process credit card payments wirelessly on smartphones and tablets using a pocket-sized credit card reader and the GoPayment app.

This lets you set up temporary check-out areas anywhere in your store or even outside -- sidewalk sale, anyone -- to better handle busy shopping times. The app and the credit card reader are free. You just supply your own compatible smartphone or tablet (the system supports iOS, Android and Blackberry devices) and pay a fee per swipe: as low as 1.7 percent for the high-volume plan, or 2.7 percent for the pay-as-you-go plan.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with more than 18 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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This article was originally published on November 09, 2011
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