It’s hard for small businesses to compete with the big guys. But that’s why there’s Small Business Saturday.
American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010, giving small businesses and brick-and-mortar stores across the country a special boost and a way to get shoppers’ attentions between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday Nov. 24 this year).
Since its founding, it’s been a powerful opportunity to reconnect with customers — and boost sales. Last year, 112 million shoppers participated spending more than $15 billion.
Shop Small Movement has gained momentum, as local officials across the nation take notice and promote Small Business Saturday. In 2011, the Senate unanimously passes a resolution in support of the day. By 2012, officials in all 50 states participate. Cities like Santa Monica even have Small Business Saturday events for local business all throughout the city.
So, as the big day quickly approaches, it’s important to make the most of this special sales event. Think strategically and find approaches that hopefully can help you strengthen relationships and business all year long.
As shopping small catches on in communities everywhere, Small Business Saturday goes from a cause to a day of community celebration. 90% of consumers surveyed said Small Business Saturday has had a positive impact on their community.1
Here are some Small Business Saturday ideas to get you started.
1. Get web ready
Don’t forget the easy stuff. Make sure your address and contact info is correct on your website and all your social media profiles. You’d be surprised how many small businesses forget to update all their accounts as their business evolves — and busy shoppers might not know you’ve opened a new location or have new hours.
And while you’re at it, review your site as if you were a customer, ensuring that all promotions are prominently displayed and that your payment process is working properly. You should do these checks regularly — and an annual holiday sales event like Small Business Saturday is as good a prompt as any.
2. Utilize free resources
American Express is doing the hard work for you, offering free signs, email templates, web badges, posters and other marketing materials to get your business’ name out there. There’s still time to download many of these materials and get them customized and ready to use in minutes. Next year, see if you’re eligible to order the full suite of materials (you might even be able to get on the initiative’s Shop Small map).
3. Plan incentives for Check-ins
Give people reason to come to your store or your events. To get customers to spread the word about your small business to their friends, ask them to check-in through social media. Offer discounts or promotions for those who show they’ve checked in on a platform like FourSquare, Instagram, Yelp or Facebook. For example, one shop had a chance to win $1,500 in free service thanks to a special promotion that lets shoppers text photos of them picking up their cars and posting it to the company social media & webpage. Consider your own in-store incentives, such as free vehicle inspections, alignment checks, car wash vouchers, raffles, collecting contact information for your own upcoming events and promotions throughout the year.
4. Don’t compete with the Big Boxes
You might be tempted to slash prices ‘Black Friday-style’ — but don’t. Doorbusters might work for major repair chains like Jiffy Lube or Costco Tires/Auto, but that doesn’t mean your shop should do the same. Instead, remember your market is coming to you for a different reason — to support local businesses.
5. Join forces
Work together with neighboring small businesses to give shoppers more reasons to visit. Wok with a local coffee shop, restaurant, car wash… giving shoppers a free cup of espresso, dessert, or a wash– encouraging shoppers to make a day of the sales event and explore the area.
By joining forces with other merchants, you’ll likely get free promotion throughout the area, simply for registering as a participating business. Find out what your local community has planned and be part of it. Those relationships can help you throughout the year.
6. Celebrate other small businesses
Small Business Saturday is a community event, so go out of your way to celebrate other small businesses participating in the shopping day. Re-tweeting them and sharing their social content is a great way to show your support. It’s likely, they’ll return the favor too.
7. Support local charities
Customers love knowing where their money’s going — especially if it is for a good cause. A dog grooming and retail spot had big success on Small Business Saturday thanks in part to promotions and partnerships with other local shops, but also because it dedicated a portion of its sales to a local dog charity. The company saw a major uptick in sales and found that customers were motivated to shop and happy to know their money would help dogs in need as well as their community. Promoting causes you care about shows customers you care and makes them feel good spending money at your shop.
8. Think beyond Saturday
Although it’s important to utilize Small Business Saturday to boost sales and drive traffic — but your thinking should go beyond this day of shopping. Most customers have more than one car and travel for the holidays. Offer incentives to get them in for needed repairs, tire rotations, alignments… before they drive out out of town with their families.
After the holiday season has ended, take stock of what worked and what didn’t. Chances are, many of these strategies can be re-purposed beyond the holiday season, allowing you to strengthen the relationships you created with customers and partners all year long.
Get free Small Business Saturday® marketing materials – including sample posters, press releases, and social media updates
1 The statistic cited was based on an online study conducted among a nationally representative sample of adult consumers as reported in the pre-2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The Survey gathered self-reported data and does not reflect actual receipts or sales.