Extending the Goodwill of Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday – a nationwide holiday shopping event created by American Express in 2010 to encourage local merchant patronage – is an opportunity for small businesses to establish themselves as a shopping location/website of choice and increase their customer base in communities they operate. And it doesn’t have to be only a 24-hour window of opportunity. Small Business Saturday can be a launch pad to increased visibility and more engaged customers while providing momentum for the rest of the holiday shopping season – and beyond. Connie Certusi, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions, suggests the following for making the most of Small Business Saturday and leveraging the customer insights gained:
Be on your best behavior – Small Business Saturday has the potential to attract new customers and, as such, you should be prepared to shine. Be ready to showcase or offer samples of your best products or services and pay particular attention to your customer service. You get one shot at impressing visitors, so don’t spare any effort or appropriate expense in achieving this goal.
Incentivize your customers - If you want to increase the probability of Small Business Saturday customers purchasing your products or services again, you may want to offer a gift or discount that can be redeemed on their next visit. One efficient way to give out coupons is investing in a payment terminal that automatically prints discounts along with the customer’s receipt. Coupon details can be programmed and customized in advance, saving you the time and trouble of remembering to provide the coupon every time you help with customers’ purchases.
Social Media – Use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to promote your Small Business Saturday deals and encourage conversations about your business. Present your followers with a discount or gift when they visit you on Small Business Saturday, bring a friend along or recommend your business on their profiles. After Small Business Saturday, encourage people to write reviews of your business and their customer experience.
Track Small Business Saturday customers and best-selling items – Keeping records of the clients who visit your business on Small Business Saturday can aid customer retention. For starters, be sure to get their email address, and put systems in place to track their purchases. This information gives you an opportunity to thank customers for shopping and reward them with exclusive offers. It also helps you understand customers’ shopping behaviors better when planning how to retain their business. Additionally, track what sells best and what extra inventory is leftover afterward to identify sales trends, potential discount items and if additional holiday staffing will be needed. Depending on your size and needs, consider either a contact management or customer relationship management (CRM) tool to track these relationships more effectively, and an accounting system that can track inventory details and purchasing habits for your customers.
Cash in on mobility – Worldwide, businesses big and small are experiencing the many benefits of integrating mobility into their operations. If you haven’t tried it yet, consider testing a few tools on Small Business Saturday. Have your employees use a mobile payment tool via smartphone while assisting customers in the store, or look up inventory on a trial mobile app. You can also mobilize your customer data onto smartphones and tablets so sales associates can use the information to make purchase recommendations when speaking with loyal customers (i.e. a clothing retailer, beauty shop etc.). After Small Business Saturday, you can analyze if implementing mobile tools can further help improve your sales and customer service.
Connie Certusi is Executive Vice President and general manager of the Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions (SBAS) business unit, which includes the Sage 50—U.S. Edition (formerly Sage Peachtree) and Sage 50 Accounting —Canadian Edition (formerly Sage Simply Accounting) businesses, as well as the Sage Accountants Network.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.