How to Take Advantage of Cyber Monday / Small Business Saturday
If you are a small business, these special holiday shopping days can bring opportunity for big sales and increased customer awareness.
Every year the Holiday shopping season is like Ravel’s classical (and classic!) arrangement Boléro. It starts off with just a few strings but ends with the whole orchestra blasting. If you run a small business or an online business, you’ll need to be ready for the crescendo. That means preparing your website for the holiday season to make sure it is running smoothly. And by creating a strategy to take advantage of 2 of the busiest shopping days, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday.
These two shopping days have their roots in Black Friday, the most famous shopping day of them all.
For many consumers, Black Friday is the official start date of Christmas shopping. Of course, some people start shopping before the end of November (but only the rare few will admit to it!) Black Friday is a respectable day to come out of the Christmas shopping closet to battle with crowds of bargain hunters. This often means forgoing sleep to get that hard-to-find item or the biggest discount. It’s a dizzying day of shopping and deal making.
But even after Black Friday, stores and shopping centers remain packed until the last minutes on Dec 24. For many, it only takes one or two shopping trips before they are ready for a different, less hectic experience. No more hiking from the outer reaches of the parking lot only to find the item you wanted is no longer available, or waiting in line when you are ready to make a purchase. Savvy marketers and small business advocates that recognized the possibility of retail burn-out began promoting new days to encourage a different shopping experience.
Step forward Cyber Monday. It’s now a marketing term but it started off as a way for internet analysts to explain the sales patterns they were seeing in the run-up to Christmas. Since 2005 online retailers have reported that their busiest day of the year is the Monday after Thanksgiving.
One day of giving thanks followed by three days of getting more stuff is not enough for the average consumer anymore. They’ll get back to work on the Monday following Thanksgiving, and continue spending online. If you have an online store, make sure you are working to attract customers to your website and that it is ready for increased traffic, and glitch-free purchase transactions.
Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is in some respects an artificial creation. American Express started it in 2010 as a way to help support local economies and promote vibrant, diverse communities. But don’t let its lack of organic authenticity put you off. By getting involved with Small Business Saturday, you get one of the things that both Cyber Monday and Black Friday fail to offer – marketing with meaning. It’s marketing that money cannot buy.
Even if you aren’t a traditional retail store, you should think about having a Small Business Saturday promotion. Shoppers need to take a break and have a coffee, grab a snack or a full meal. Encourage them to do it in your shop rather than one of the bigger chain stores. If you can delight them with your food and your service, you may have made a repeat customer.
And right there is why Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday are so important for small businesses – everyone and their moms are talking about them. So you should take advantage.
How To Take Advantage
Now that you’re on the bandwagon what do you do? How do you take advantage of Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday? Whether you are a 100% online store, operate out of a storefront, or both, we’ve got tips to help you take make the most of the day or days that are appropriate for your business.
One of the easiest things you can do is evaluate what worked last year and prepare your offerings for this year. Was there a product that sold more, or less, than you expected? Any special offer or marketing tactic (email, online ad, radio, signage) that customers noticed? Get your marketing materials in place and plan your marketing strategy now. Also, make sure you have enough staff, or automation in place to deal with the additional customers/orders that come with holiday promotions. Finally, research your competitors, and if they have a good idea or a fantastic deal, match it (or better it!).
Don’t wait until Cyber Monday or Small Business Saturday to start marketing the deals. You should get the word out by any means you can – signs or leaflets in your shop, banners on your website, social media, PPC campaigns, email marketing etc. You can start testing the online campaigns now so you know what works to attract the most visitors and convert the most sales. And you should start promoting the week before Thanksgiving at the latest. Get in front of your customers while they are planning their shopping lists. Make sure your store is listed on Google Maps (and other directories) so that
You will be competing for the attention of your customers so make sure they notice you. The deals you offer should have pizzazz but they should also look legitimate. The most important thing is that they stand apart so that customers spend money in your shop or on your website instead of with one of your competitors.
Be Smart About Timing
Research has indicated that consumer spending on Cyber Monday peaks early in the morning and at lunchtime, so offer extra-special deals, and optimize your promotions to appear at these times. You can do something similar if you are a brick-and-mortar retailer looking to capitalize on Small Business Saturday – offer extra-special deals at certain times of the day, open later / earlier than your competitors, or create a party-type atmosphere to get people through the door.
The final thing you should do to get the even more out of Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday is to keep the momentum going. Reach out to your customers in the days that follow with different offers and enticements. Shopping continues through the month of December, so don’t miss out on those sales!
With a little bit of thought, pre-planning, and a channeling of efforts, the big consumer spending days of the Christmas season can be very lucrative for your business. And here’s one final suggestion. Play Boléro on your iPod or stereo system at some point during the big day. It’s a great way to sashay your way into the season and make sales.
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published on Nov 11, 2013, it has been updated for relevancy and accuracy.