Post Black Friday, small businesses trying to find ways to compete

In the wake of what promises to be a frenzied Black Friday, an email marketing outfit is launching a free emailing bundle to help small businesses ask their customers not to forget them as they launch into the shopping fray this weekend.

Montreal-based CakeMail Inc., which helps small businesses create email newsletters and marketing campaigns, is offering a free one-month trial for its service. It also runs a free version for small businesses sending up to 12,000 emails a month to 2,000 contacts or less, although the free version will always show CakeMail’s logo at the bottom of its newsletters.

The promotion lines up with Small Business Saturday, a U.S.-based campaign that American Express started in 2010. The day falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the U.S., encouraging consumers to buy from smaller merchants, instead of only shopping at their big box counterparts.

CakeMail and American Express aren’t the only businesses trying to get small businesses a piece of the retail pie.

Canada actually celebrates Small Business Month in October. So last year, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business ran a Small Business Saturday just after Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend. By day’s end, 4,500 small businesses posted an online deal on the CFIB site, but many of them were asking for more, said Dan Kelly, CFIB president, in a statement. That pushed the CFIB to build a permanent directory for small businesses.

This September, the association kicked off a year-round campaign called Shop Small Biz. It features an online portal for small, local businesses who want a place to feature their sales and deals. When potential customers go to the Shop Small Biz Web site, they can indicate which cities they live in. The site will then show them deals from local merchants who are also CFIB members.

For example, at the time of this writing, a Toronto-area customer might see offerings from merchants like Cool East Market, which is offering deals on Japanese-style  footwear, or discounts on commercial building cleaning from Advanced Cleaning Services.

Still, given that Small Business Saturday is sandwiched in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S., with some spillover for Canadian customers looking south of the border for deals, smaller retailers are facing some stiff competition on this particular weekend – and the lure of a discounted flatscreen TV at the big box store may prove difficult to beat.

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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