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Make your small business stand out

Date posted:  5/13/15 08:30:00 AM It can be hard for small businesses to stand out during the holiday shopping season.

It's not easy for a small business to stand out in a crowded retail sector - especially during the busy holiday season when consumers are bombarded with hundreds of different advertisements and marketing campaigns.

But that doesn't mean small businesses should pack their bags and wave the white flag. Many small business owners have found their own unique ways to become prominent figures in the retail sector. In fact, many are already doing a great job. The Small Business Administration reported the 23 million small businesses located across the country accounted for 54 percent of all sales.

Mary Tague, owner of the Florida-based Toy Town, tries to stand out by pointing to the obvious, according to the Miami Herald. The tagline on her website reads: "You're invited to shop small at Toy Town."

The store has been open since 1954 and is thriving in the 18 years since being purchased by Tague. The owner said shoppers continue coming back, showing their loyalty to the store every year.

To prepare for the holiday shopping season, Tague doubles the inventory and amps up Toy Town's presence on social media, which include channels on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Tague kept certain jobs in the family, hiring her 27-year-old daughter, Megan, to design the store's website, among other things.

"I wasn't very savvy," Tague told the Miami Herald of her Web expertise. "You have to do what you're good at and hand off what you're not good at. We found that we get a lot of feedback from those platforms."

Tague also hires people she's known over the years. She said she hires a few extra people on a part-time basis - mostly high school and college students she's met during her years running the store.

The Toy Town owner said outside of social media channels, the store's biggest promotional tool is an event called Toy Town's Santa & Elf Magic Party, which is held in the store in December and promotes foot traffic and overall awareness of her company.

"That kind of kicks everything into double-throttle," Tague said. "People realize that Christmas is around the corner, and business picks up quite a bit."

Combine your social media channels
Small businesses that don't have time to plan an in-store promotional event should consider uniting their social media channels, according to Entrepreneur. This asks a company to keep all of its social media channels on one digital platform, allowing business owners to post an image to Instagram, which is simultaneously posted to Twitter.

It also might help grow followers, as not every consumer will be following a company on all of its social media pages. If a consumer is following a company on Twitter, he or she may not be following on Facebook - or even know a company has a Facebook page. That's why business owners should link one social media page to another.

Businesses should target certain demographics when creating a marketing plan
The Miami Herald reported small businesses should target millennials when creating marketing campaigns. The source cited data from Leaders West Digital Marketing Journal, which stated there are 76 million millennials living in the United States. That's roughly 27 percent of the population and an even bigger portion of the consumer segment, as millennials tend to be well educated (63 percent have a bachelor's degree) and know their way around social media (46 percent look to social media when making online purchases).

The Herald suggested business owners should also consider marketing to minorities, as Hispanics account for 17 percent of the U.S. population.