Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Oct 1, 2013

Social Media

Secrets of Small Business Success: Holiday Marketing: Be Memorable and Meaningful

Donna Fenn has shared expertise and insights from entrepreneurs who’ve seen it and been through it all. From innovation heroes to customer service champions, in her last installment of the Small Business Success Summer Series, she explores holiday planning for the fast-approaching season. In this blog, Donna spoke with entrepreneurs who learned the hard way that it’s never too early to prepare your business for the  busy holiday season.


Janet – @jzablock


Holiday Marketing: Be Memorable and Meaningful

By Donna Fenn, Small Business Author and Expert

For many small business owners, the upcoming holiday season is the most important time of year, as it represents a huge percentage of annual revenue. While consumers are in the mood to buy, they can be overwhelmed with marketing messages and confused by a huge number of choices.  So how do you rise above the noise? At this time of year especially, customers are more likely to do business with companies they like. Don’t wait until the crowded holiday season to start your holiday outreach. Instead, take the opportunity to meaningfully connect with them over the coming weeks and you’ll reap the rewards in the coming months.  Here are a few ways you can show your customers that you’re a cut above your competitors:

Be generous on social is a new, multi-brand online retailer for people who want to be both stylish and socially conscious, says co-founder Soraya Darabi. “We don’t have a big marketing budget, so community is our first priority,” she says. Yes, she wants to drive consumers to Zady, but part of the company’s social media strategy is to be a trusted resource to people, even if it means sending them elsewhere. A woman recently asked Darabi where to find a great pair of boots. Her response: check out the used Ferragamos on eBay. “We want to position ourselves as experts,” says Darabi.

Host a party. At Zane’s Cycles, which has two bicycle shops in Fairfield County, Conn., holiday sales are just between 9- 10% of total revenue. Still, owner Chris Zane leverages the holiday season to thank and connect with a select group of important customers.  He hosts a VIP cocktail party with tenderloin, shrimp, and gift bags filled with Zane swag and a bottle of wine for 200 of “the customers who are most intimately involved in our business,” says Zane. “They’re the people who help us clean up after our big spring sale, or who wave the flags at the charity rides that we support. It’s about building community around our space and sending the message that we’re here for them.” He knows that message will pay off when it’s time to shop for bicycles in the spring.

Leverage cause marketing. At Back to the Roots (BTTR), an Oakland, Cal., company that sells mushroom growing kits and aquafarms, founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez forged a holiday partnership with Revolution Foods, which provides healthy meals to school children.  “For every Aquafarm that we sell at Whole Foods, Petco, and Nordstrom, we’ll donate a healthy school meal through Revolution Foods,” says Arora. The program, which starts this month, is part of BTTR’s philosophy to “partner with cool companies to do good things,” says Arora.

Of course, your holiday marketing should also include more traditional elements, such as email marketing to your most loyal customers and a holiday card. For a spin on that, check out, a new social greeting card company that allows you to custom create e-cards (free) or physical cards ($4), with multiple pages and signatures, all managed online. Remember, it’s all about differentiating your company to customers in a memorable and meaningful way so that they fall in love with your company, not just what you happen to be selling.

Disclaimer: Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal advice. When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal counsel to determine what laws and regulations may apply to your specific circumstances. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on October 1, 2013 at 10:05 am

Dec 10, 2012

#HolidaySuccess Tips for Small Business Owners: Post-Holiday Management

The New Year’s light at the end of the tunnel is near, but don’t let the last few holiday moments distract you from making the most of the holiday rush.

Our final blog series from USA Today small business columnist Rhonda Abrams, reminds small business owners what they need to do to help take advantage of the final days of the holiday season and make them last throughout the New Year.

For more information on other holiday planning advice, download the full Small Business Holiday Success Guide at

Happy Holidays!

Janet – @JZablock

Phew! We’re almost to the end of the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of the holiday woods. You’ll still have post-holiday customers, and you certainly want to find ways to keep the customers you acquired during the holidays and turn them into year ‘round fans.

As you prepare for the post-holiday season, concentrate on four major objectives:

    1. Keeping holiday customers
    2. Redeeming gift cards
    3. Handling returns
    4. Planning post-New Year promotions

Keeping holiday customers. Every name and email address you capture, with consent, every new follower on Facebook or Twitter, is an extremely valuable lead and potential future customer for your business. After all, these folks have already sought you out—either by walking into your storefront, visiting your website, “liking” your Facebook page, or otherwise connecting with you.

Be creative about how you capture contact info. Of course you can simply ask people for their information at checkout, but you can also hold weekly drawings for gifts when people give you their business cards at your place of business or “like” you on Facebook or other social media, offer discount coupons on your eCommerce website if prospects register for your newsletter. (You do have a newsletter, don’t you?)

Just be sure to ask the customer’s permission before adding them to your mailing list – and of course, promptly honor any unsubscribe requests you receive.

Gift card redemption. One of the best things you’ll deal with after the holidays are all those customers coming to redeem gift cards, if you’ve offered them for sale during the holidays. Many of these customers may be new to you—the happy recipients of a gift card. So make sure you encourage them to sign up for your newsletter or Facebook page. Also, make certain you’re set up to give them excellent service—have enough inventory and staff to handle demand. Keep in mind, many gift card recipients spend more than the amount of the card, so be sure to merchandise your products or services well during this time.

Handling returns. If you have a physical location or are an eCommerce company, you’ll likely have some returns. Make sure you schedule extra staff for the first week or so after Christmas specifically to handle returns. And have a very clear and specific return policy in place (ideally, this should have been clear to buyers before they made a purchase). Your policies may be very strict, such as no cash refunds, only merchandise exchanges, and only items unopened in original boxes, but such policies discourage future purchases. You can certainly have more lenient policies if returns are rare. Whatever your policy, make sure your employees understand its terms. And emphasize to your staff the importance of accepting returns gracefully. Few things are more off-putting than a store that handles returns impolitely. Remember, your goal is to create lifelong customers!

Post-New Year promotions. Last but not least, as the holidays wind down, start thinking of creative ways to keep people coming in, even during the typical doldrums of late January and February. Tactics include:

  • Beginning-of-the-year sale
  • Two-for-one specials for slow periods
  • Multiple purchase packs of your goods or services
  • Loyalty programs
  • Free trials

If you’re diligent about capturing contact information (paying close attention to getting your customer’s consent first) throughout the holidays—and afterward—you could have a large audience for your 2013 marketing campaigns.

Rhonda Abrams  @RhondaAbrams

Disclaimer:  Practice recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for legal, financial, tax or other advice.  When implementing any new strategy or practice, you should consult with your legal and financial advisors. Visa makes no representations and warranties as to the information contained herein.


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on December 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Nov 19, 2012

#HolidaySuccess: Tips for Small Business Owners

A few weeks ago, we shared the Small Business Holiday Success Guide that we recently launched with USA Today small business columnist, Rhonda Abrams. As the holiday season is upon us, we are excited to bring you the first in a series of posts that will provide you with more in-depth strategies to help make this a successful holiday season for your small business. In this series, we will cover money management, holiday marketing techniques, tips for extending holiday success into the New Year, and more. – Janet Zablock @jzablock

6 Tips for Social Media Holiday Success

Social Media 411 chart

Whether it’s money management or marketing, every aspect of your business requires a plan. That includes social media marketing. Keep in mind the following six tips when developing your social media strategy:

  1. Remember, it’s better to give than to receive.Anything you tweet, post, pin, or blog should offer value. Just like you’ll tune out your know-it-all brother-in-law at Thanksgiving dinner, your followers will drop you if all you do is talk about your product or service and why they should buy it. Instead:
    • Write blogs showing how you meet customers’ holiday needs
    • Post links to articles and videos your followers will find useful or entertaining.
    • Discuss promotions and special items you’re offering just for the holidays.
    • Refresh your content often during the holidays to bring customers back.
  2. Write your content in advance. Before you’re knee deep in gift wrap, write as many of those blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts as you can, and merely publish them according to the calendar. Brainstorm the topics, themes, and promotions you’ll cover. Then create a calendar of what to post when (a spreadsheet is best, but a physical calendar also works).
  3. Regift. No, I don’t mean unload that itchy orange and purple sweater your mother gave you last year. I’m talking about repurposing your content. You’ve already taken the time to write your blogs and email newsletters. Now save time. Pull material out for tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn updates.
  4. Put some tasks on auto-pilot. During the holidays especially, you don’t have the resources to update and like posts on Facebook all day. Of course, you’ll still pay attention to the conversation. With tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Manageflitter, you can pre-load all that content you wrote in advance and schedule it to post later.
  5. Encourage engagement. Create surveys. Ask questions. Run a contest. Do what you can to encourage followers to engage. When they do engage, respond.
  6. Manage review sites. According to SearchEngineLand,76 percent of customers visit sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Zagat to find the best meal, store, hotel, and more. Make it easy for your customers to post positive reviews. The tool ReviewBiz allows you to embed an icon in your website that will take your customers directly to local review sites.

Visit to download the Small Business Holiday Success Guide and learn more!

–Rhonda Abrams (@RhondaAbrams), USA Today Small Business Columnist and Expert


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on November 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Oct 17, 2012

Attention Small Businesses: We Have a Guide to Help You Plan for the Holidays

Along with strands of lights, bunches of garland, and last minute gift shopping…as a business owner, you also need to think about staffing, marketing ideas and managing cash flow. Bah humbug.

So to help you get started, Visa Inc. teamed up with Rhonda Abrams, respected small business expert and small business owner to create our first Small Business Holiday Success Guide.  The guide is designed to help you navigate some of the most critical holiday hurdles – from social media engagement to money management. We want to help you make this your best holiday season yet!

Cheers to a successful season and a prosperous New Year!

To learn more about Visa’s suite of small business products and services, please visit and follow us at @VisaSmallBiz on Twitter.

For my personal perspectives on topics and trends in small business,  follow me at @jzablock.


Posted by: Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business, Visa Inc. on October 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

Jul 27, 2012

Visa’s Go World Campaign: 28 Million Cheers…and Counting!


With the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games just hours away, the world is ready to celebrate and cheer for their favorite athletes and teams. At Visa, we’ve been encouraging fans to cheer for Team Visa athletes for the past several months leading up to London 2012. To date, more than 28 million fans have submitted digital cheers as part of Visa’s Go World campaign, our largest global and most social marketing campaign in Visa’s history.

Go World encourages consumers to cheer via Facebook, Youku and Sina-Weibo in China, VKontakte in Russia, YouTube and Twitter (US), to inspire Team Visa athletes at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Since the campaign launched in May, fans have cheered in the form of liking the Visa Facebook page, submitting photos, videos and text cheers and performing one-click cheers through Visa’s Cheer application on Facebook, viewing and sharing video content on YouTube, as well as including the campaign’s hashtag (#VisaGoWorld) on Twitter (@TeamVisa) and cheering through partner websites.

Some highlights of the campaign:

• 1.9 million fan “Likes” on Visa’s Facebook page
• 400,000 cheers for 69 Team Visa athletes in the form of a one-click cheers and text, photo or video submissions

• 25.7 million views of Visa’s Go World commercials, behind-the-scenes athlete content and consumer-generated cheer videos
• Globally, the most viewed Go World commercials include:
1. “The Difference”* (8.5 million views)
2. “Double Beach Volleyball” (3.4 million views) featuring Brazilian Team Visa athletes Emanuel Rego and Alison Cerutti
3. “A Very High Dive”* (3.2 million views) featuring Team Visa athletes David Boudia (US; diving) and Hugo Parisi (Brazil; diving)
4. “100th of a Second” (1.9 million views) featuring US Team Visa athlete Michael Phelps (swimming)
5. “Perfect 10” (1.1 million views) featuring Olympic legend Nadia Comaneci
6. “Yelena” (1.3 million views) featuring Russian Team Visa athlete Yelena Isinbaeva (pole vault).

The five most cheered for Team Visa athletes around the world include:
1. Li Na (tennis, China)
2. Yelena Isinbaeva (pole vault, Russia)
3. Michael Phelps (swimming, USA)
4. Lopez Lomong (track & field, USA)
5. Azizul Awang (track cyclist, Malaysia)

Within the United States, the five most cheered for Team Visa athletes include:
1. Michael Phelps (swimming)
2. Lopez Lomong (track & field)
3. Nastia Liukin (gymnastics)
4. David Boudia (diving)
5. Alana Nichols (wheelchair basketball)


Posted by: Kevin Burke, CMO of Core Products on July 27, 2012 at 11:53 am

Jun 10, 2011

@VisaNews Goes Live on Twitter

On behalf of Visa Inc., we’re proud to announce the launch of our official Twitter channel.  You will now be able to follow us @VisaNews for the latest commentary on payments and our thoughts on innovation news and views.

As always, you can follow us here on the Visa Viewpoints blog or you can subscribe to our RSS feed for easy access to our latest posts.  Thanks in advance for following us on Twitter.  We look forward to participating in the conversation.


Posted by: Will Valentine, Visa Corporate Relations on June 10, 2011 at 9:00 am

Jun 15, 2010

FIFA Fans Unite Online

A recent story by’s Etan Horowitz examines the global boom of interactivity expected around the FIFA World Cup™, noting that many expect the global sporting event to drive record social media traffic. After witnessing the levels of engagement on social media channels around the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, we agree wholeheartedly.


Posted by: Andrew Woodward, Visa Coporate Relations on June 15, 2010 at 2:25 pm