[IMGCAP(1)]With the holiday season right around the corner, many small business owners are planning for the busiest time of the year, and it’s the perfect time for them to appreciate their current customers while gaining new ones.

Social media and the ubiquity of mobile devices make connecting with customers easier than ever. With this in mind, Sage North America offers the following tips to help small business owners and their accountants prepare to maximize profit by connecting with customers.

A great platform for small businesses to grow their reach is Facebook. By establishing a Facebook page and teasing holiday promotions, they can begin to increase early awareness and build buzz ahead of the launch of these promotions. Small business owners can launch holiday promotions on Facebook and incentivize their customers to share the promotions on their personal walls to increase awareness and reach.

Another great platform to launch and increase awareness of promotions is Google Places for Business. Through this platform, small businesses can promote their business in their local market and share offers and promotions with relevant prospects.

Other ideas to help connect with customers and increase holiday sales are:

• Include coupons for 10 percent off in shipments going out to customers now. This will give customers a reason to come back and shop for the holidays.

• Everyone needs help trying to find the perfect gift. Small business owners can take advantage of this and post gift suggestions on their Web sites and include them in shipments that are going out to customers now.

• Provide tips on what will be the hottest gifts this season and how to score them, and post this information to the Facebook page, Twitter account and Web pages. Businesses can do this for the holidays and throughout the year. This will give customers a reason to continue checking the Web site and social media pages.

• Create a mobile strategy with QR codes or digital promotions.

• Offer tips on saving time and money that don’t promote the business but create a reason for people to follow the business on social media, just because!

By taking steps like these to help promote their business now, small business owners and their accountants can easily prepare for the holiday rush and possibly create customers for life.

Connie Certusi is the 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 Simply Accounting (is becoming Sage 50—Canadian Edition) businesses, as well as the Sage Accountants Network.

Her efforts are focused heavily on ensuring that all aspects of the accounting solutions business unit deliver a premium customer experience to small businesses as well as to key recommenders, such as accountants. Prior to joining Sage, she gained comprehensive experience in the financial software industry at MSA/Dun & Bradstreet Software, SQL Financials, and Ross Systems. She spent 10 years with MSA/Dun & Bradstreet Software in various areas of product development, marketing and management. She holds a B.B.A. degree in management science from the University of Georgia.