We’ll admit it — our collective shopping strategy isn’t much of a strategy at all. It’s more like an episode of Supermarket Sweep with a PayPal account and some poor impulse control thrown in for good measure. When it comes to gifts in particular, we don’t exactly stick to a plan, but we tell all of our business owner and retailer clients that they certainly should.

Since we’re invested in helping our clients make the most of their Saturday sales rushes, we’ve been following retail news pretty closely in the past few weeks. Our extra-curricular reading has paid off, and we’ve added some new concepts and strategies to our arsenal. One of the most interesting articles we stumbled upon was a piece in Forbes that challenges business owners to rethink their Small Business Saturday marketing techniques. Here’s what Forbes had to say about the flawed sale strategies adopted by most holiday sellers:

Last year more than 100 million Americans shopped locally on Small Business Saturday. This year President Barack Obama did his part by buying holiday gifts at an independent bookstore in Arlington, Virginia. On Small Business Saturday I was sitting in a Las Vegas hotel room, reading the local newspaper, learning about what Vegas merchants were doing to entice customers to keep their money local. The article caught my attention because local businesses even in Las Vegas haven’t seemed to figure out what Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn learned a long time ago—if you want to attract people inside your business you need to offer them an “experience” they can’t get anywhere else.

In Las Vegas small business vendors showcased the discounts they planned to offer as part of Small Business Saturday: a jewelry store took 20-percent off its products, a hair salon offered 20-percent off haircuts and threw in a complimentary book, a flower store offered 10-percent off its merchandise. There’s nothing wrong with these discounts and I hope they did well. Small businesses create two of every three jobs in the U.S. and it’s important that we support them. But those businesses have to give their customers a reason to support them that goes beyond saving a few bucks.

The bookstore Obama visited with his daughters is called One More Page Books. Owner Eileen McGervey clearly understands that to keep dollars local she needs to offer an experience that’s impossible to replicate online. Each week One More Page bookstore hosts discussion groups, young writers workshops, visiting authors, as well as wine and chocolate tastings. McGervey also maintains a blog and a Twitter account where she shares community information, including photos from … more at Independent Business Owners Send The Wrong Signal On Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday

We couldn’t agree more with what’s being said here. No matter what business you’re running it’s important to remember that you’re selling more than just a product or service – you’re selling an experience. As this article points out, you can offer special events and amenities to help create that experience in-store, but we’d like to add that your efforts don’t have to stop there.

You can also adapt your online marketing strategy to create an experience for your customers on the web. How? By using evocative language in your web copy, by writing engaging blogs that spur discussion and by running creative promotions and contests through your social media accounts. Most small business owners want sales in months that don’t end with “–ember”, too. Contact us today and we’ll help you craft a marketing strategy that goes beyond holiday promotions.

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