Small Business Saturday is rapidly approaching, and with more than $16.2 billion in customer spending up for grabs, it makes sense to start planning now. You can take advantage of this high-stakes shopping day by implementing a few simple strategies to generate traffic and interest in your goods and services. Kelly McCormick, author of “OutSell Yourself,” has five marketing tips to get the best bang for your buck on November 25.


1. Let customer feedback guide your marketing.

Don’t assume that whatever marketing you put out there is going to be eagerly embraced by your customers. The best way to know what is going to work is to actually ask your customers what they want. Social media is a great place to gather this insight. On Facebook, let followers know you are putting together Small Business Saturday specials—ask them to fill out a Facebook multiple-choice survey so you can rank which specials are most appealing to them. You can also send a survey directly to your email list using an online survey service like SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo. In either case, consider offering an incentive, such as a bonus discount, for completing the survey.


2. You’ve got only so much time and energy—use it wisely.

If you’re using social media to promote your event, focus on the social platforms with the best success rate for your business. For example, if you have to choose between a decent-sized Twitter following with only a handful of retweets or a smaller Facebook following with steady shares and comments for your posts, then focus your efforts on Facebook.


3. Stand out on social media with images.

Images pack a punch on social media and you can use them to increase interest in your products and services. Apps such as Piclay and PicLab make it easy to add text to your images to create professional-looking posts with calls-to-actions, such as “Join us this Saturday for giveaways and discounts. Shop Small!” Make sure to add your website url, which drives traffic to a page outlining your special offers.


4. Look for local partners.

Hit up your list of fellow small business owners that share your target market. Movie theaters and restaurants are perfect marketing mates, as are car dealerships and auto insurance agents. See which businesses are willing to cross-promote with you to offer enticing package deals that increase foot traffic. You might find potential partners through your chamber of commerce or local business development association.


5. Keep your eye on the prize.

No matter how you choose to promote your Small Business Saturday event, create a clear and consistent message that you put into all your materials and posts. Most small businesses make the mistake of being too broad in their marketing around the annual event. Don’t be afraid to get too niched. Understand your audience and who you are marketing to. Then, go after them with laser focus.


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