) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. We're gearing up to use St. Patrick's Day to get customers.

Using St. Patrick's Day, a holiday marked in the U.S. mainly by green beer, leprechauns and four-leaf clovers, is a great way to lure customers in the door, says Charles Gaudet, founder of


"The most effective small-business marketing strategies are supported by giving your customers a reason why they need to pay attention to you," Gaudet says in a blog on

, "because having an ordinary sale isn't good enough. St. Patrick's Day offers entrepreneurs a creative reason to reach out and communicate with your customers."

He offers several strategies, such as creating contests that use catchy phrases such as "luck of the Irish" or offering discounts on "green" items in the store.

2. We're getting an improved daily deal site.

Constant Contact


specializes in helping small businesses create marketing campaigns around customer email lists and manage social marketing campaigns, but the company recently introduced another service: coupon-based deal marketing in which the company stacks up against big competitors such as


(GRPN) - Get Report




Constant Contact CEO Gail Goodman tells

The New York Times

that small businesses will prefer her company's service to other competitors. Goodman says the timing of the service is good because merchants have had a chance to become aware of what does and doesn't work in the mass

daily deal market

. Constant Contact's deal program takes those things into account -- things such as sending coupons to existing customers, providing an incentive to share with their social networks and allowing the merchant control over the amount of a discount, she says.

3. We're figuring out how to boost employee productivity in an age of information overload, smartphones and March Madness.

For the better part of the next three weeks, employees will be hovering over their carefully chosen college basketball brackets, scouring social media sites for player information and watching the occasional afternoon game through their work computer. How do you make sure events or periods such as March Madness don't get in the way of your company's output?

(Admittedly this is one of

my own stories

, but I thought it was important enough to call out.)

The answer is: You can't stop it from happening, but you can create a work environment with as few distractions as possible and set expectations for what work gets done.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to:


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