7 Small Business Saturday Marketing Ideas for Your Online Business

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Consultant

Small Business Saturday (just 6 weeks away on November 29th) is where consumers are encouraged to buy from local businesses, particularly for their holiday shopping. It is an initiative that was started by American Express back in 2010, and it always takes place on the Saturday after the Black Friday shopping day (which is the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday).

Now, while online businesses benefit from Cyber Monday two days later, your online business can still take advantage of Small Business Saturday with these easy marketing ideas.


7 Marketing Ideas for Small Business Saturday

  1. If you sell on a marketplace like Etsy or Storenvy make sure you have entered your city in your profile if you haven’t already, as customers can search for shops this way. You will also want to put it in your shop title and shop description, if only for Small Business Saturday. For your regular website, this is a good opportunity to mention your city somewhere in your title tag and home page, again, if only for Small Business Saturday (see next point on this as well).
  2. Add the keywords “small business saturday” with your city at the end, to your website’s keywords as this is a popular search phrase on Google. For example, “small business saturday nyc”.
  3. Email the editor of your local newspaper (do it this week or you’ll be too late!) asking if they are planning any articles on local companies offering specials for Small Business Saturday and mention a special you will be offering (make it worthwhile, like 30% off today only). Even better, ask if they will consider doing a separate article focusing on local businesses selling online. Can’t hurt to put the idea in their head.
  4. Offer a special just for customers from your city. For example, you could offer, “Today we are offering 30% off for customers in the Boston area, in support of Small Business Saturday”.
  5. Pair up with a few other online vendors in your city who sell complimentary (but not competing) products and ask that they mention you on their website/online shop if you mention them on yours. Kind of like a blog roll of local shops to check out on Small Business Saturday. Again, you only have to keep this on your site for the week prior to, and the days after Small Business Saturday.
  6. Send off some Tweets using the #hash tags #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSaturday #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat, but add your city at the end to get to your local market i.e. #SmallBusinessSaturdayBoston (make sure your Twitter profile lists your city and change your Twitter Trends box to see what is trending in your city). Also, retweet the tweets of other businesses in your city and they may return the favor.
  7. Make sure you have a profile on Yelp, Google Places and Yahoo Local. These listings are free and they help you to show up in local search results. In the case of Yelp, add a photo/image of any special you are offering for Small Business Saturday.

Take advantage of this amazing once-a-year marketing opportunity to reach your local market. There are also a variety of free marketing resources and other ideas available at American Express’ Shop Small website.

small business consultation

GB Oliver

I advise hundreds of small businesses each year. If you feel that your business could use some advice to avoid wasting further money on things that just aren’t working, please see my Services page for my affordable advice options – including my Small Business Consultation for just $129 US – or inquire below.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.


If Your Small Business is Failing, It Isn’t Always Your Marketing

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Consultant

Do you know about the four Ps of marketing – Product, Price, Place, Promotion? They are in that order for a reason.

Screen shot 2014-10-20 at 1.26.22 PM

The problem most small businesses and entrepreneurs make is that they do not spend enough time on the first P – the Product. They get anxious and excited and jump right ahead to the next three. Then, when the business starts to fail, they automatically think the problem must be their price, where they are selling, and/or their marketing efforts.

But more than likely the reason the business is failing is because they didn’t make sure that the product/service they were offering was:

  • Better than the competition
  • Different than the competition
  • Answered a need in the marketplace that competitors were not

Particularly if you are a late entrant into an over crowded market, your business has to have at least one of the above to have any kind of success.

Real Business Case Study

I had a client a few years back wanting to open a cupcake business. The problem was, the cupcake business was already thriving and full of competitors doing a great job. But she was determined and jumped ahead and started designing the website, logo, marketing materials, etc. I had to reign her back in and have her focus on the cupcakes before committing to anything else. If she was going to compete in this already crowded market, the only way she was going to have success was to offer cupcakes that were better, different and/or answered a need in the market that no other business was addressing.

Research the Competition

Your first step in developing a successful business is to research your competition in terms of what they offer. I researched her competition, noting:

  • The look of her competitors’ cupcakes – were they regular size, oversized, mini, mile high icing, round, square, in shapes, decorated, etc.
  • The taste of her competitors’ cupcakes – were they moist, decadent, rich, not too sweet, something I couldn’t make at home, etc.
  • The special types of cupcakes her competitors offered – peanut-free, gluten-free, flavors tailored to men (beer cupcakes), specialty cupcakes for sports teams, companies, weddings, etc.

If her cupcakes didn’t taste better than anyone else’s, look better than anyone else’s, and/or address niches the other companies were not, there was not much point going forward.

How to Make Sure You are Better Than the Competition

My key advice to every business is always this: match your competitors feature for feature, and then go beyond that.

Make a list of every feature your competitors offer, and then compare to make sure you are matching them feature for feature. Now, how do you go beyond? Find out what they don’t have that customers want or features where they are weak and customers have complained about.

One easy way to do this is to read reviews of your competitors on Yelp – a great place to get this information. You can also reviews of similar products on Amazon, again, focusing on the negative reviews to see where a product and/or service is lacking and you can take advantage. There are many other ways, but I have to save something for my consultations :)

Making sure that your product and/or service offering is better than the competition and/or offers something different from the competition and/or covers sought-after niches in the marketplace, is the first and most important step in ensuring the success of your business. Do not proceed with any of the other Ps, until you have that perfected.

600SmallBusinessConsultNeed a Small Business Consultation?

I advise small businesses everyday. If you feel that your business could use some personalized advice to avoid wasting further money on things that just aren’t working, please see my Services page for my affordable advice options – including my Small Business Consultation for $129 US – or inquire below.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.


3 Types of Customers Your Small Business May Be Ignoring

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

I am amazed at how many people set up an online business and then quickly expect world domination, getting thousands of orders daily from customers in every part of the globe. The truth is, a successful business can get the majority of their customers from these three sources:

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1. Repeat Customers

We seem to always be on the hunt for new customers, but what is wrong with your old or current ones? Depending on the nature of your business, 30% or more of your sales should come from repeat customers. Plus, it is much easier to sell to a previous customer than it is to a new one.

Ways to get repeat customers:

  • Follow your customers on social media (so they follow you back)
  • Give your customers special offers and exclusives just for them
  • Reach out every now and then to your customers just to say hello, wish happy holidays, etc.
  • Ask your customers to join an email newsletter list
  • Listen to and try to meet their needs for new products or services

2. Referrals

Happy customers will recommend you to their friends and family. Referrals and word of mouth are typically the easy way to get a sale because the customer does all the work for you.

Ways to get referrals:

  • Ask – it is sometimes that simple. Nicely ask your customers to recommend you if they are happy with your product or service
  • Give an incentive, such as a free gift, free service or discount off of their next purchase for each referral
  • Send them a promo item (t-shirt, bag, pen) with your logo and url on it. When they use it, it acts like a referral
  • Throw a few business cards in with the product, they may pass them on

3. Your Local Market

Why are we such snobs when it comes to our local market? Buyers are buyers, and as I have told my clients many times, you will see that people want to support their local businesses, out of a sense of pride and because local businesses pay taxes and employ people.

Ways to get more local business:

  • Participate in and/or sponsor community charitable events
  • Form alliances with other, non-competitive businesses for cross promotion
  • Make friends with the local business writer at your newspaper to get press or provide needed quotes or sound bites on other local business news
  • Label your products, business cards, and marketing materials with “Proudly Boston-based” or “A San Francisco Company”
  • Join local business networking groups

Ask Me a Question!

GB OliverHave a question regarding your small business or how you can get repeat, referral or local business? Just ask in comments below. If you like today’s post, feel free to share on social media, also below.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved. 


My Marketing Insider Tips for October

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

I have been swamped with clients so I have been absent from my blog for a week and I also will not be getting out my October Insider Report as a result. Bad for me, but good for you as I will give you just a snippet of what I was planning to cover here.

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New Selling Opportunities 

  • Major retailers continue to look to indie designers to enhance their product lines. Retailer Club Monaco recently launched a new accessories line called The Pieces with jewelry and hand bags from indie designers. Think about retailers whose brand suits your offerings and approach them with an idea similar to this one. What have you got to lose?
  • Lucky magazine will no longer be publishing as a print magazine, however, they will be re-launching in the spring as an e-commerce site in a merger with Beachmint, and are currently sourcing merchandise including from smaller indie brands. If you are in fashion, you may want to try to make contact with the buyers for this new site.
  • The wedding social site, Lover.ly, has now evolved into an e-commerce site. Lover.ly will showcase your products to potential brides but send customers directly to your online shop. This new redesign of the site has caused their traffic to increase by 450% in the last three months. It is becoming the one stop shop for all things wedding, so if you sell wedding products or even have a wedding blog (as they will promote that as well), you will want to look into a partnership with Lover.ly.

Social Media News

  • Twitter has begun testing a “Buy” button that allows people to make purchases directly from a tweet.  Twitter says that purchases will only take a few taps on the screen, and your credit card information can be stored for future purchases to facilitate purchases even further. I have always felt that Twitter is better for business to business marketing, but if this proves successful with the stores that are currently testing it, you may want to ramp up your Twitter account.
  • Are you following those new interest sections on Pinterest? Basically it takes the main category boards and narrows them down so you can get topic-specific pins in your home feed. What this means for small business owners is, for example, if your target market is pregnant women, you can go over to the “Kids” category and follow the “Pregnancy” board, which has over 154,000 followers. The pins that appear here are going right into the feed of these followers, so it is a great place to add a comment to the pins and have your business potentially get seen by your target market. 
  • Top Google searches for Pinterest this month: Pinterest Fall Outfits, Pinterest Food and Drink, Pinterest Humor Cats, Pinterest Quotes About Love, Pinterest HairStyles, Pinterest DIY Crafts – do you have boards named as such?

Hot Trends for Spring 2015

  • September was all about fashion, with the Spring 2015 shows starting in New York, then London, then Milan and finally Paris. Here are the top fashion trends for spring 2015, that will also carry over into the home, wedding and kids’ markets: gingham, floral prints, fabric made of art prints, pleats, ruffles. plaid, denim and the color blue in every vibrant shade.

More insider advice later this week, so remember to follow my blog (hit the follow button on the right) and follow me on Facebook for more tips.

GB Oliver

Need help marketing your small business? Be sure to check out my Marketing Services page to find a service that is right for your business, or if you have a specific need, just let me know at attentiongetting@gmail.com.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved. 



3 Online Retailers with Amazing Blogs

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

Everyone keeps telling you how you need a blog as a secondary alternative to drive traffic to your online store. It can be very effective as you target your prospective market with articles they care about, and it inadvertently brings them over to your online store. But a blog is a lot of work, so don’t venture into it lightly. Some big retailers do it really well, with ideas that may inspire you.

3 Online Retailers with Amazing Blogs

1. West Elm

West Elm Blog

Home retailer West Elm has a blog called Front + Main. They cover categories their customers care about such as Food + Entertaining, Before and After Room Makeovers, Bedrooms, Living Rooms, Bathrooms, Kitchen + Dining, Handcrafted, Inspiration and DIY. But also intermixed throughout this highly visual blog are links to recent posts on some of the top home decor blogs, so they curate content as well. They will also answer design dilemmas sent in by customers, giving a personal touch to their business. All content is very attractive for social media-sharing purposes and they actively encourage the use of their #mywestelm hash tag. Front + Main looks like a glossy online magazine that successfully promotes West Elm’s products but not in a in-your-face-kind of way.

2. Free People

Free People Blog

Boho clothing retailer, Free People, has a blog but is not strictly about fashion. They have also given it its own name – The BLDG 25 – and it covers all the topics its 18 to 35 year-old female demographic likes, such as music, beauty, food, decor, DIY, and inspiration. Every Monday they offer their motivational quote (which always do so well on social media), and the blog tends to focus on the bohemian approach to life – yoga moves, granola recipes, vegan smoothies, monthly horoscopes. They only have posts about their clothing every 5 or 6 post, so again, it is a subtle way to sell to readers.


bhdln blog

For wedding retailer BHDLN, a blog almost seems a given. But how to complete with the hundreds of wedding blogs already out there? Well they offer the best of both worlds. Like West Elm, throughout their original content are posts from some of the top wedding blogs. They do promote their products, as Free People does in every 5th or so post, with the other content being articles such as wedding day make-up tips, wedding shoe guide, hot trends, as well as studio visits and interviews with some of their designers. Like the others they give their blog its own name, calling it B-Inspired, and sometimes, instead of posts, they actually post a graphic representing one of their Pinterest boards, and selecting it takes you directly to it. A great way to get more followers.

Your Marketing Take Away

  • Post content your target market cares about
  • Give your blog a name so it has its own identity
  • Encourage using a company hashtag when sharing the post on social media
  • Link right to Pinterest boards as content
  • Curate content from other top blogs
  • Only promote your products every 5th or so post
  • Use it to connect to potential customers by answering their questions

GB OliverNeed a Creative Marketing Strategy for Your Online Business? 

Check out my Marketing Services page to find a service that is right for your business, or ask for something specific at attentiongetting@gmail.com.

© 2012-2014 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved. 


Has Your Business Jumped on the Annual “Pumpkin Spice” Trend?

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

As I told you in my September Marketing Insider Report, when Starbucks came out with their Pumpkin Spice Latte for the first time in September 2003, little did they know that it would set off a seasonal flavor marketing trend. As you can see from the article featured in the photo below on People.com, the release of pumpkin spice products, for a limited time each fall, is a hot trend other companies are starting to cash in on.

Screen shot 2014-09-17 at 11.38.27 AM

All Types of Pumpkin Spice Products

From vodka to hummus to chewing gum to yogurt, it seems like every food company, drink company and fast food restaurant has some sort of pumpkin spice product.

This hot trend doesn’t just have to be for food products. Candles, home fragrance sprays, makeup products, lip balms, body washes, hand lotions, even dog biscuits all have pumpkin spice offerings. Last week, just as a joke, someone even circulated a photo of a Durex pumpkin spice condom on social media (it doesn’t really exist but it shows you how hot a topic it is). This Buzzfeed article, 16 Pumpkin Spice Products That Don’t Exist and Never Should is pretty funny.

Do These Pumpkin Spice Products Sell?

You are probably wondering the business logic behind this trend, in that do these products sell well? The lattes do. Starbucks has sold over 200 million pumpkin spice lattes in 11 years and even moved the release date up to August 26th this year. As for the other products shown here, it doesn’t really matter. More than likely, these products were conceived to get into seasonal editorial, such as the article above. These products will also get circulated on social media because it is a timely topic everyone is talking about with #PumpkinSpiceLatte and #PumpkinEverything trending on Twitter and Instagram. So in other words, at very least, it results in publicity.

Are you planning to try any of these products or offer some of your own, even if just for a limited time? I know if EOS came up with a pumpkin spice lip balm, I probably would buy a few.

What seasonal flavor trend do you think will be dominating products next month? My bet is on candy cane, but find out more in October’s Marketing Insider Report, available October 1st.


Insider Report CoverIt’s Here!

My September Marketing Insider Report is out now! If you want to sell more online  this month, get my very best tactics and exclusive selling opportunities in this month’s report. I also include marketing intelligence from my retail contacts on the current top sellers and what customers are asking for this time of year. Download Now! 20-page PDF.

© 2014 Gail Oliver. All right reserved.


Would Google Search Be Better If Results Were Not Divided Into Pages? Cast Your Vote!

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

Why does Google organize your search results into pages? Same with Yahoo and Bing. Considering that page 1 results garner 92 percent of all traffic from the average search (according to a study by Chitika), why stop at showing 10 to 12 search results and then make users click over to page 2 to see more (especially if only 5% of people do this)?

Having results divided into pages seems to be restrictive to the user. Why not just have the search results keep flowing so technically everyone makes the first page? Considering the growth of mobile, where scrolling down to see more is the typical user action, why haven’t the search engines moved in this direction?

Why Scrolling Page Search Results May be the Way to Go

If you go over to Pinterest, there are no pages, you can just keep scrolling down forever. Maybe that is why it has increased in popularity as a search engine. Instagram is pretty good too, giving you the “LOAD MORE…” option (something Pinterest use to do, but now it is automatic).

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A lot of ecommerce stores also have search results that work this way. Old Navy will automatically show you all items in any category you select, and not divide them up into pages. Maybe they have figured out that visitors are less likely to click over to page 2.

And if an online store doesn’t automatically do it for you, they at least give you the option to see all results on one page, as seen below at Sephora.

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The Benefits of “Show All” Search Results

Think about it. How often do you select the option “Show All” when given it? I know I do. Why do I do it? Because I like the idea of seeing everything in one shot. To me it is more convenient and time saving. It is also a usability issue. The thought of clicking on an arrow or “page 2″ seems tiresome and slower. I would rather hit “Show All” once, than to have to keep hitting page 2, page 3, page 4, etc. Also, if I saw something I liked, what if I can’t remember if I saw it on page 1 or page 5. So then I have to go back through all the pages. I probably won’t bother. If everything is on a continual page, I know I just have to scroll back up to find it.

Tell Me What You Think!

Be sure to share this post on your social media to see what other people think. I will let you know the results in an upcoming blog post. Click to follow my blog.

GB OliverIf you are a small business struggling with your marketing, I offer affordable help that will drive more sales to your business. Please see my Marketing Services page or contact me at attentiongetting@gmail.com for more information.

© 2014 Gail Oliver. All right reserved.



Case Study – How One Successful Small Business Only Needs to Have a Storefront Two Months a Year

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

In the city where I live, every year, for just seven weekends from early October to mid November, a local couple hosts a major shopping event called The Third World Bazaar.

They reside on a few acres of farm land where they turn one of their large barns into a holiday retail space. The owners spend 5 months of the year travelling the globe buying products for the sale from artisans in countries such as Mexico, Indonesia, Thailand, Cuba and Vietnam. Everything from jewelry to furniture to textiles to home accessories to toys to Christmas ornaments to other unique finds. In the 10 years it has been operating, the bazaar has become incredibly popular and proves you don’t need to have a storefront year round, if fact, it might work better if you don’t.

Screen shot 2014-09-15 at 12.16.03 PM


Why Does This Business Work?

  • The owners capitalize on the key holiday buying time of the year, October and November.
  • Buyers know that the bazaar is only open during these seven weekends (Friday to Sunday), so they make the effort to get there, and they BUY, because they know that they are not coming back again for another year.
  • As they own the property and the barn, there is no rent being paid on a retail space.
  • The bazaar barely has to advertise because of strong word of mouth and customer loyalty. People know when it is coming because it is always the same time every year.
  • They have food trucks on the site, and also sell pumpkins and apple cider, making this an all-day fall event.

As I’ve said before, when something is only being offered for a limited time, it forces people to act. If buyers know a store will be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, there is no urgency.

Ways to Have a Storefront for a Limited Time

Depending on what you sell, there are certain times of the year when it may benefit your online store to have a physical store presence. If you sell swimwear, maybe that is May/June. If you sell skis, that would be December. If you selling wedding goods, January is usually prime time. Or maybe you also want to take advantage of the holiday buying season. So what options do you have?

  • Approach a popular local store about the idea of them hosting a pop-up store of your products for just a few Saturdays during your prime selling season.
  • Consider taking out a shopping kiosk in a mall. Malls are hurting right now, so they may be open to the possibility of just a two month rental.
  • See if there is any retail space in your area that has been sitting empty for a long time. Approach the leasing agent about renting the space for just a one month period.
  • Ask your local church or community center if they would be willing to let you use their facilities in exchange for a donation.
  • A lot of hotels and resorts will host local vendors on their premises at certain times of the year.
  • Some business parks will also allow vendors to set up temporary one-day events on their premises, if it is something that will benefit their employees.
  • If you can’t afford some of these options, form an alliance with other local, but non competitive vendors, about going in together.

The goal is to maximize your key selling season with both a physical and online presence that will help carry you throughout the year.

NEW SERVICE! My Marketing and Promotion Blitz

GB OliverI am offering a new marketing service for small businesses. I tend to offer DIY marketing services to keep my prices low, however, a lot of customers have been asking me to offer a service where I do the work for you. So please check out my ALL-NEW Marketing & Promotion Blitz, complete details on my Marketing Services page.

© 2014 Gail Oliver. All right reserved.


Customer Success Story – Why It Pays to Get My Insider Tips!

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

One of the opportunities that was going to be in my September Marketing Insider Report was to submit your business for consideration for Martha Stewart’s American Made Award, but the deadline was too close and my report wasn’t ready yet. 

So instead, I emailed this opportunity to my customers and I am happy to announce one of my customers, Half Pint Ink Studio, has been chosen as finalist!

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How Being a Martha Stewart’s American Made Nominee is Good For Business 

In November, a total of 9 winners will be chosen, one in each category, with the chance to win $10,000 cash, as well as be featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine, on her website, on her radio show and in her marketplace on eBay.

But even to be a finalist is a stamp of approval from a respected publication and something that can be used on marketing materials and packaging to gain even more credibility with customers, used to get wholesale deals, and used it to get publicity with local media. So it is an opportunity that can be leveraged for so many other aspects of your business.

Good luck, Katie!

Why It Pays to Get My Marketing Insider Report

Insider Report CoverIt pays to be an insider because I bring you all the opportunities and exclusive tips you may not have the time or resources to find on your own. Be sure to get my September Marketing Insider Report to learn about more amazing opportunities for your small business, such as this one!

© 2014 Gail Oliver. All right reserved.

“Shop Local” Campaign Ideas for Your Small Business

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

With Small Business Saturday coming up again in just two months (November 29th in the United States, but there are movements in other countries as well), there has been a growing momentum over the last few years to encourage consumers to shop and buy locally produced goods.

locally made product shot

As a small business, are you taking advantage of the local movement?

Local customers love to support local business. Everyone has a sense of patriotism and it extends down to the city level. I don’t know how many times I have recommended this to clients. Start gaining a following and customer base locally, then leverage that success to go national, and then once you have national success, go for worldwide sales.

Your local media also loves to support local businesses. For example, two of my Atlanta-based customers, Margaret Vera Designs and All Earz Jewelry, took my advice and pitched stories to their local newspaper, The Atlanta Journal Constitution and got press coverage in their “Made in Atlanta” section of the newspaper, dedicated specifically to supporting local businesses.

Don’t discount your local market. They will be loyal and repeat customers and they will be more likely to recommend you to friends and family. Many popular, name brand companies started with local success, such as Starbucks, and then turned that local success into national and then international success.

3 Shop Local Marketing Tactics You Can Try

  1. Approach your local media, be it your newspaper, TV station, magazines, even radio, and see if they have a regular small business feature. They are probably even starting to think about editorial for Small Business Saturday, so your timing might work out well.
  2. Approach popular local merchants and see if they will try carrying your products in a small section of their store for just one Saturday, entitled, “Support Local Small Business“. Tell them you will bring all of your friends, family and customers to their shop that day. It could result in press for them as well (local shop supports local business).
  3. Add local labels or tags to your products (such as the logo above) so that when you sell at local craft shows or local shops, customers are influenced by the fact that your products are home-grown.

Tell Me What You Think!

What ideas or tactics will you try to get more business from your local market? Tell me in comments.

Need More Marketing Ideas for Small Business Saturday?

I’ll have more ideas of how you can take advantage of the local movement and Small Business Saturday in my October Marketing Insider Report, available October 1st.

GB OliverHaving Trouble Marketing Your Business?

That is normal, you are simply too close to it to be objective. If you would like to know how I would market your business, get my detailed and customized Marketing Game Plan for Your Small Business and start driving your sales today. More details on my Marketing Services page.

© 2014 Gail Oliver. All right reserved.


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