Charting your GrowthThere is a certain reverence for small business in America. People hold the idea of the citizen-entrepreneur in high esteem. Probably because success in small business captures much of the American spirit: independence, self-sufficiency, hard work, and never giving up.

If you follow politics you definitely hear a lot of lip-service paid to small businesses. Sometimes politicians follow through with what they say and other times they don’t. But if you ask the average person what they think about small business, you won’t get any lip service. We’re a country that admires and respects small business.

Recognizing that, 2 years ago American Express and partners created the Small Business Saturday to encourage consumer support of small businesses everywhere. On November 24, less than two weeks from now, the third annual Small Business Saturday will be in full swing.

Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to boost sales, grow your customer base, improve site traffic, and provide an all-around boost to the health of your business. There’s not much time left, but we thought we’d provide some tips and advice to help you with last minute preparations for getting the most out of Small Business Saturday.

1. Use AdRoll for a Retargeting Campaign

One of the most important aspects of Small Business Saturday is advertising. One of the best companies to help you implement data drive retargeted ads is AdRoll. Considering the local and consumer driven nature of Small Business Saturday, retargeting might be the best option if your budget is tight.

Josh Constine for TechCrunch reported back in September that these “ads earn businesses up to 16X what they spend.” That’s a huge return on investment. An ideal part about a retargeting campaign with AdRoll is the fact that they can be set up in a matter of days. Even better, if you’re not an AdRoll user already you can get two free weeks of AdRoll service – just in time for Small Business Saturday.

2. Modify your Adwords campaign

Google’s Adwords is one of the most powerful tools you have to get your small business traffic on the net. For Small Business Saturday, you should consider optimizing or adding keywords to match up with a big deal or event you’re running for the day.

Also consider utilizing geographic targeting as you work with your Adwords campaign; if you’re mostly a brick-and-mortar business with a small web presence this can be more beneficial to you.

3. Fire up Twitter and Keep Tweeting

With less than two weeks to go, you need to start using Twitter everyday. Twitter is the perfect tool to keep in touch with your customers leading up to Saturday. You don’t want “out of sight, out of mind” to happen to you.

Use Twitter to remind customers about anything special you’re planning as part of your strategy this year. Provide information about which products or services you offer make perfect gifts and why. Build up to special announcements throughout the remaining days for things like special discounts to Twitter users. These are all very effective ways to maximize business on Saturday.

4. Engage in other Social Media Platforms

Twitter is a great way to interact with customers and promote offers in a short and concise manner. But you should also engage in other social media platforms like Facebook, Google+, and Foursquare. These allow for a slightly different way of interacting with potential Small Business Saturday shoppers.

Facebook and Google+ can be used to share similar information as Twitter, but it’s more acceptable and expected to provide more information. These platforms can be used to provide more media about your promotions or even just to share more in-depth content. You can also provide special deals to the customers who use these platforms as well.

Foursquare is a great tool that doesn’t take long to utilize as you do your last minute prep for Small Business Saturday. If Foursquare is a tool you use to promote your business or clients, consider adding bonus points for checking in at your brick-and-mortar. It’s a small little thing that will encourage people to visit. If you’re not set up on Foursquare hurry up and do so – you have enough time to make it worthwhile!

5. Organize a deliberate cross-platform strategy and execute it

When you’re using traditional marketing, social media, and your website, be deliberate about what you post and promote. Take a few days to figure out what exactly you want to promote on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and your own site and how you want to approach it. Don’t overwhelm customers and followers with too many posts, but don’t be minimal either.

Often times it can be more effective to focus on one popular promotion or service that will sell the best. Informing people with too many offers or products at once can be a turn off. Likewise, be very specific with your posts and promotions. Don’t encourage people to come to your store or site to check out “all of your great deals!” Instead, remind them why they want to come with something like, “Come to XYZ Store between 3pm and 4pm for a bonus 50% savings hour!”

On the day of the event, be sure to take pictures, write updates, and provide content that shows your business in a positive light and also shows satisfied customers.

6. Get your Mobile Site in Order

People who browse stores on a mobile device are a serious demographic in customers today. Don’t be caught with a clunky or non-existent mobile version of your small business’ website. You can be sure that shoppers on Small Business Saturday will be out with their smartphones. Add your mobile site into your promotion strategies and even consider adding a special deal for people who order through the mobile site or who bring a special mobile coupon to your store.

A recent post on the CEM blog by Ross discussed how to get your site ready for a transition to mobile. There are some good points in that post and I also suggest checking this Mashable guide right here.

7. Motivate your Staff

If you have great employees, help them be even greater. Turn Small Business Saturday into an event for them as well. Consider offering rewards for individual employees for their performance. Or you could set a challenge for them to meet on Saturday which will net them all a generous award from the company.

Even something as small as offering a little bonus for sharing your social media posts and retweeting your business’ information can go a long way in getting more business this year. Incentivize behavior or actions that encourage employees (and customers) to share info and referrals to your products and services.

8. Display Important Info Prominently

Make sure your website and your brick-and-mortar is set up in such a way that the most important information you need to get out to the public is attention-grabbing and easy to read. There are a wide variety of options for this in traditional and online marketing.

You could create a special homepage leading up to Small Business Saturday. that directs visitors to the reasons they want to shop at your business this year. For your brick-and-mortar this could involve costumes, special props, or organizing an event at another location to take advantage of a high-trafficked area. These can all get people interested and heading to your store on the day of the holiday.

9. Take Advantage of American Express’ Resources

You’re not without help as your prepare for Small Business Saturday. American Express has a range of resources available to you as a small business. If there’s free help and info available, why not take advantage of it? Three of the best ways that American Express is helping out is by offering free advertising, providing a downloadable traditional and social marketing kit, and highlighting successful small businesses from last year.

10. Keep the Customer in Mind

No matter what you do in the last week or so leading up to Small Business Saturday, make sure you understand your customer. Many people will be happy to help out and participate in Small Business Saturday by shopping at small businesses. But they also want to get products that they need. Many people will be shopping for gifts for others or treats to themselves for a successful year; tailor your efforts to that when you promote your products and services.

Good Luck out there!

Small Business Saturday is a great chance to grow your customer base and get an added boost to your sales. Your success on the 24th is going to be heavily influenced by how well you prepare and market yourself. Don’t think that because there is less than two weeks left that there isn’t much you can do; all 10 of these tips can be implemented in a matter of days especially for the event and net you significant results. Here’s to a more successful Small Business Saturday than the year before!