Five years ago, American Express launched Small Business Saturday to support and raise awareness for small businesses in local communities. Last year, consumers spent $14.3 billion on what now has become almost a national holiday. This year, participating businesses across America are again hoping for a boost in holiday sales the day after Black Friday.
However, while Small Business Saturday is an excellent opportunity to increase your sales, don’t hang your hat on just this one day. The benefits of Small Business Saturday can work to your advantage throughout the holiday season. Here are my tips to help you make the most of Small Business Saturday this year and leverage all that goodwill throughout the holiday season and into the New Year.
- Get signed up. Make sure you register your business on the Small Business Saturday website. You’ll find information on how to market your participation, including social media tools, marketing materials and ideas to rally your local community.
- Utilize social media. Use sites such as Instagram and Pinterest to showcase your holiday merchandise and decorations. Don’t forget to include pics of your team, and make sure you engage with your followers (like/comment on their statuses, reply to all messages you receive, etc.). Pushing content without engaging won’t do much to build your brand.
- Host an in-store event. Small Business Saturday and the holidays in general are good times to host customer appreciations events. For example, inviting authors in for a book signing is a good way to boost sales. “Our local independent book store, Book Passage, in Corte Madera, California invites self-published authors like my husband and me to participate in their Small Business Saturday event. They consider us all small businesses — which we agree with,” said Julie Freestone, author of Stumbling Stone.
- Cross-promote. Work with other small businesses in your community to promote Small Business Saturday. Consider collaborating with a non-competitive business to offer a special discount during the holidays. For example, a local wine shop could give its customers a 10 percent off coupon to the nearby chocolate shop with a purchase. It’s a way to attract new customers. A great resource to help you identify other local businesses that are interested in cross-promotion opportunities is a hyper-local social platform called Alignable.
- Connect with people. Use Small Business Saturday as an excuse to build relationships with your customers so they’ll keep coming back. They’re not just your customers; they’re part of your community and should be treated like neighbors. “People who ‘shop small’ on Small Business Saturday are looking to connect with local business owners, or they’d be fighting over what remains of Black Friday at a big box store. Give your customers the personal touch that only small businesses can offer, and they’ll shop small all year long,” explains Kari DePhillips, owner of The Content Factory, a digital PR agency.
- Highlight your unique goods and services. In a recent comScore survey of why people buy from smaller local shops, the top two responses were that local stores offered unique products (61 percent), and they couldn’t find what they needed at traditional stores (49 percent). Be certain that you offer items and services that are not easily acquired elsewhere. Display them prominently and train sales associates to discuss their uniqueness. Items that are easily found elsewhere become commodities that makes shoppers focus solely on price.
- Promote your future. Let everyone who ventures into your location on Small Business Saturday know you always have something going on. Hardware stores can promote upcoming seminars on tile installation, for example. Clothing stores can encourage people to sign up for their newsletter, where they announce seasonal arrivals. The goal is to get people looking beyond Small Business Saturday and plant the idea in their minds that they’ll be coming back one day soon.