Marketing Monday: What do Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday mean to you?

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday … remember when it used to be just plain ol’ Thanksgiving?

It seems there’s been more buzz this year around Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, making this a long weekend devoted to conversations of shopping and discounts.

Should your business participate? Obviously too late to join in for this year, but maybe you’re Monday morning quarterbacking or thinking about next year.

Recently I wrote a post about starting with your business goals, then taking actions consistent with those goals and building a communications plan around those actions.

Deciding whether to take part in any of these themed days — or anything like it, maybe a chamber of commerce promotion or a street festival — goes back to those three steps.

Do you want to get introduce your business to new customers and is the event likely to attract the kind of new customers you want? Are you more about retaining your existing customer base? Will the event be fun and exciting for them or annoy them so they won’t spend money with you during the promotion?

If you decide to run a promotion around a themed event like Cyber Monday, make sure you motivate the right actions by customers. If you give a blanket 30 percent off everything, will you lose money on some sales? Would you rather give a discount on bigger purchases, for example, or give a coupon code only to past customers to say thank you?

Just running a promotion isn’t enough to bring shoppers in — they have to know about it — so you’ll need to plan your communications. How far in advance will you give notice of your deal, and will you worry that you’ll lose sales and people wait for a discount? If you just promote it on Facebook and Twitter, will you lose out on less tech-savvy customers?

You might get some additional attention from new shoppers, but you might also find it harder to compete with the huge number of other businesses — many with bigger budgets — promoting their own offers. If you’re small with limited resources, you might weigh that against the option of doing something another time when you aren’t one of dozens or hundreds of similar businesses vying for eyeballs.

But if you can do something that feels right for your business goals, encouraging purchases that are profitable for you, within your business budget, maybe you experiment and see what it does for your cash register? There’s no better way to find out if something’s right than to try.

Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy. She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.

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