While the U.S. government has made investments to help buoy the economy, small business owners know they must find ways to control their own business viability. One such way is to evaluate their approach to today’s complex payments landscape.

Businesses can’t make money if they can’t take money. While balancing the traditional four Ps of marketing—product, price, place, and promotion—is still as important as ever, having an effective payments strategy as the fifth P is just as critical for achieving success. Here are a few ideas for small business owners to develop a better payments strategy: Offer gift cards. Surprisingly, many small businesses don’t offer gift cards, but they should. Gift card programs can be affordable and add revenue from "uplift" upon card redemption—69% of gift card recipients report spending more than the value of the card, according to First Data’s 2008 U.S. Gift Card Consumer Insights Survey.

Create incentives. Small businesses can compete with larger companies by implementing affordable, tailored loyalty programs that encourage frequent visits and purchases. Offering a loyalty program that works with an existing POS is simple and can help track and manage customer data. For example, when customers reach 150 points, they receive $5 off their next purchase. A small change can produce big results: Some small businesses have registered more than 500 loyalty members in the first six weeks.

Mark Herrington General Manager, Retail Solutions First Data Atlanta

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