danniewriter

Take time to get inspired

The U.S. Small Business Administration realizes that small business owners are often too busy to attend the many great activities that the administration offers during National Small Business Week … because you are busy attending to your small business. That’s why they stream many of those events online.

Check out this year’s line-up here.

Why not schedule some time next week to listen to the speakers, and most importantly, fellow small business owners, for fresh ideas on marketing, promotion, and partnerships? Regarding the latter, check out all the resources on the SBA website and start building a network among your fellow business owners to promote Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25) 2017 in a really big way.

Want to learn from some of your peers? There are links to this year’s SBA award winning businesses from this page.

Case studies can be helpful resources, too, if you are seeking new marketing ideas. Here are a couple from Writtent:

And if you need help once you get that marketing inspiration, give me a call. Your initial consultation is free.

Follow Through Is Everything

Vintage shop buildings on West Chicago Avenue in West Town, a Chicago community on the West Side. Galeria Center and Samson Inc. City street. No people.

You formed a plan for Small Business Saturday. You rallied your fellow local merchants to join you and buy into the promotion. You’ve been spreading the news via social media and traditional advertising. It’s coming down to the wire.

Don’t forget the follow through.

Until now, it’s been about promotion, now it’s time to make sure you and your partners do what you’ve said you will do. The idea is that on Saturday you will be welcoming customers who have never been to your business before. Make sure theirs won’t be a one-time visit.

Get a fresh set of eyes. Ask a trusted friend or family member to walk through your business and give you an honest assessment of its cleanliness, accessibility and overall customer friendliness. Chances are there’s some de-cluttering and extra cleaning to be done.

Make sure employees are in the loop. Do all your employees, and that includes family/friends coming to help on the big day, know exactly which items are on sale or you want to push? Can they answer questions about refunds/returns? Can they give directions to other stores, parking, restrooms, restaurants? As the proprietor, you are going to be plenty busy on Saturday, you don’t want to get bogged down answering basic questions your own people should be able to answer.

Capture that data! If you’ve not done so already, there’s still time to decide on a giveaway that will enable you to get contact information from many of your customers. A basket/bowl for business cards and also a simple paper form and pens are all you need. Make it something good to entice customers. Partner with other merchants for a big-ticket item.

Doing snacks? Put someone in charge. Hot beverages and snacks likely are things you don’t offer most of the time, so make sure they aren’t forgotten by mid-morning. Select an employee to keep everything stocked and cleaned up. If you run out, then clear everything away ASAP rather than leave the mess out front for your customers to see.

Don’t wait to debrief.┬áMake your own list of things that went well and those that fell flat. Consult your employees/volunteers for their input. Then, make sure there’s a debriefing on the calendar with your partner merchants. If the shopping season is too busy for a 90-minute meeting until after the holidays, at least send out an email next Monday reminding your partners to make their own lists so those good insights aren’t lost.

Share news of your success. If you have a great story to tell, submit it by Jan. 11, 2016 for consideration in the 2016 National Small Business Week Awards. If you need help telling your story, let me know.

Mark Feb. 1, 2016 on your calendar. That’s when you will want to start planning for 2016’s National Small Business Week, May 1-7.