Friday, November 20, 2015

Counting Down to Small Business Saturday and the 2015 Holiday Shopping Season

It's just over a week until every retailer's biggest time of year.  Small business - companies with less than 10 employees - make up 80% of Dunwoody's registered businesses.  There's plenty of opportunities for our residents and commuters to patronize a Dunwoody shop or service in the coming months.

Dunwoody's population quadruples during the day, every work day of the week.  Don't forget the commuters in your promotions.

Are you ready for the seasonal stream of customers that November and December bring?  Can your customers find you online?  Take these few days to put your best foot forward online.  SDOC is burning the midnight oil to assist our website customers for the season.

1)  Go Google Yourself  (or Bing yourself.  or Yahoo! yourself)  Search for your company or products online.  See where your company ranks in the results.  You probably can't change your search engine ranking in time for Black Friday or Cyber Monday but you can still create or update your business listing maintained by each search engine.

Even if you are not using e-commerce on your company website, a free business listing in the search engines is critical.  According to Google, almost 90% of shoppers will search for a business type online before shopping.  Your listing makes it easier for your shoppers to find you, or call with questions, or get directions to your door.  Make sure your phone number and hours of operation are correct.   Plus search engines will direct shoppers to the location nearest them.  It's easy and only takes  a few minutes each!

Google Local (requires free creation of a Google+ page, also helpful for search engine rankings)

Yahoo Small Business for local listings. (Customizing your listing for search engine rankings is free, but a paid directory submission service is available.)

Bing Places for Business (Same idea as Google and Yahoo but owned by Microsoft. Requires a free Microsoft account)

2)  Visit your website.  Better yet, have your mother visit.
Have you looked at your website lately?  Do you know what's there?  How do your customers react to it?  Is everything working?  Better to take some time and check.  Get someone who is not familiar with your website to do the same.  A set of fresh eyes will spot mistakes or problems that you might miss.  
  • Click on all of your links.  Fix the broken ones.  
  • Check your website's images.  Add fresh ones if the others are looking stale.  Maybe take some new photos of your store's decor for the holidays
  • Make sure your contact information is easy to find.  
  • Make sure your telephone number is a tappable link on phones.  
  • Does your website have a search function?  Try it out.    Ask your web developer to make sure all of your website pages meet Google's latest SEO guidelines.  
  • Double check your social media links and integrations.  
  • Are you using e-commerce?  Try the store out as a customer and find any mistakes or problems.  Check your inventory.  Remove discontinued or out of stock items and add your new inventory for the holidays.  Are your prices correct?  Coupons and discounts updated?  Added value upsells included?  Gift Certificates configured?  Your web developer can expedite these fixes
3) Take all the free publicity you can get.  Start with #ShopSmall Saturday

American Express began the Shop Small Saturday movement several years ago to bolster their small-business merchants.  Through their website, your business can get more online exposure and marketing materials to use in your shop or online.  

Get signed up at the official Small Business Saturday website.  There is no business too small - home based, solopreneur, Etsy shop, all are welcome if you accept American Express from customers. That also includes PayPal, Square, WorldPay users!

Your online marketing materials will include custom- made Facebook banners and graphics like the ones in this post and on SDOC's Facebook.  There's also some boilerplate copy you can include in social media or website/blog posts.  (Just be sure to customize it for your company and your products.  There's nothing worse than overlooking an (insert product here) tag in your post!

We wish all of our visitors a successful and prosperous holiday season in their enterprises.  For Dunwoody's visitors and residents:  don't forget to patronize local restaurants and coffee shops when you've shopped til you've dropped!

This week, SDOC will be taking exactly these steps to assist our website customers with their online outreach.  Drop a line if you're looking for some last minute help before the big shopping rush hits next weekend!

No comments: