Situated neatly between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a lesser known, but growing, shopping holiday called Small Business Saturday. (with the apropos tagline of Shop Small). Founded by AMEX in 2010, and officially recognized by the U.S. Senate in 2011, Small Business Saturday has quickly become a noteworthy event. Posting numbers of more than $5.5 billion in additional revenue to small businesses across America last year alone, this date presents a unique opportunity for marketers to grab some coattails and hang on.
Often what stands between you and successful integrated marketing—the cross-channel marketing of a consistent brand message—is a brilliant idea. As marketers, we may be more challenged seeking creative inspiration than we are by deploying the actual campaign. Events, such as Small Business Saturday, are apt fodder for an integrated campaign that will speak to and engage your customers on many levels: philanthropic-type support of small business, special offers at a time when shopping is especially top of mind, social sharing, community building, and much more.
Our approach to an integrated campaign is to draft the content and then brainstorm to choose in what channels we can publish the content to "give the project some legs." In the case of Small Business Saturday (SBS), AMEX has provided a fair amount of content for participants; while it may not be ideal for the channels you choose, it's certainly a great start, as that first step is often the biggest—and hardest.
As an example, we sifted through the promotional content and chose to first launch our initiative as a Facebook campaign where we invited our friends and fans to like the post to support small business. For our network followers, who are small business, we asked that they comment on the post, adding their logo and an offer valid only on 30 November.
With the social postings making a regular appearance in our timelines, we then created the email campaign to educate our small-business clients about SBS, give them ideas for participating, and direct them to the site's resources for launching full-blown initiatives in their own communities. To both gain support for the event and foster a closer relationship with our customers, our email offered a complimentary, branded email theme they could use to specifically promote their own SBS offer—no strings attached.
While it wasn't planned as part of our integrated campaign for SBS, blog articles such as this could easily be developed in a way to extend the reach of your campaign.
Big business (B-to-B) can also benefit from promoting events (like SBS) when selling to small businesses, just as we did by offering our clients an email theme. A larger enterprise can nurture goodwill by becoming involved in a way that is beneficial to their clients beyond the bounds of their typical day-to-day business relationship. Clients are much more likely to show loyalty to vendors with whom they feel a connection and benevolent events give both parties a place to come together in a like-minded pursuit.
Campaign inspiration surrounds us, and it's not always about discounting, selling and downloads. As any salesperson can tell you, developing qualified leads requires relationship building, and that is seldom done using email alone. Intersperse your typical business and sales emails with feel-good content that benefits the customer beyond your products and services, and you'll find that engagements become more valuable, last longer and, yes, drives sales.
Join us in celebrating Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.
 If Small Business Saturday isn't right for you, think about other charitable or community events, such as breast cancer walks, balloon festivals, food fairs and the like. Coattails come in all sorts of fabrics. Be receptive to events where content is readily available, and this will reduce the demands on your internal team or external resource needs.
Email marketing is the most effective way to increase sales, improve service, and keep your customers engaged. Email campaigns are best bolstered through an integrated strategy that crosses channels and meets your constituents where they congregate and in the media they prefer. “The Integrated Email” provides best practices and ideas for developing strategies and deploying email campaigns and initiatives while keeping an eye on revenue attributable to marketing.
Cyndie Shaffstall, founder, Spider Trainers, is a successful entrepreneur and prolific author, with many books, dozens of eBooks, and hundreds of articles to her credit. She is the former founder of ThePowerXChange, editor and publisher of X-Ray Magazine, and the current founder and managing member of Spider Trainers, a managed automated email services provider for companies around the world. Connect with Cyndie on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, or join her LinkedIn Group, the Marketing Resource Library for daily links to marketing-critical resources.