Small Business Week (May 1-7), an annual event sponsored by the Small Business Administration since 1963, is dedicated to highlighting "the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from across the nation." It's also a perfect occasion to celebrate and promote your own small business.
Here are tips for spreading the word about your business and getting current and prospective customers alike excited about participating in this national event.
Find Out What's Happening in your Local Community
It's a good bet business and community organizations in your neighborhood are celebrating Small Business Week. Find out what your local chamber of commerce, economic development centers, and regional SBA district office are doing. There may be opportunities to coordinate activities with these and similar organizations in ways that benefit everyone involved.
Partner with Other Local Businesses
When it comes to highlighting your business during Small Business Week, there's definitely strength in numbers. What sort of cross-promotional activities and/or reciprocal deals are possible with businesses around you? Consider offering a discount to customers who show a receipt from a recent purchase at the store around the block (and have that business do the same for you). Many such complementary ideas are possible. The key is to work together on promoting the partnership both online (websites, social media networks, etc.) and offline (interest local media in covering the event).
Business writer Lisa Furgison suggests coordinating a "small business evening stroll or Saturday block party" as a way to encourage shopping in your business district. "Consider ways to share publicity with nearby businesses," she adds, "such as by hosting a trunk show of a local artisan's products, or creating a display of several locally made products."
Share the Spotlight with a Local Non-Profit
Is there a cause you feel passionately about? Small Business Week is a great time to collaborate with a local non-profit that aligns with your business. Hosting a joint event may attract plenty of prospective customers and build goodwill about your business, due to your commitment to a worthy cause.
Offer Discounts to your Customers
By offering Small Business Week discounts, you can attract new customers and say "Thank you" to loyal customers at the same time. Spread the news about limited-time product discounts and keep interest high by switching up different "daily deals" throughout the week. If possible, extend your business hours so customers have more options about when to come by.
Use Social Media to Get the Word Out
The promotional possibilities inherent in social media are enormous. Come up with a specialized hashtag to get some buzz going, or explore resources like Twitter Quick Promote to expand audience awareness. Share photos of your store on Pinterest or Instagram. Do some advance planning so you have snappy messages ready to post for each day of Small Business Week. You could also post a photo of your business or the SBA logo on your Facebook page. Encourage your customers to tweet about a Small Business Week event and share photos of the celebration and/or clever images of your product or service in action.
This once-a-year event celebrates the American entrepreneurial spirit. Let everyone in your various networks join in on the fun by letting them know you plan to participate in Small Business Week and encourage them to share the news with your own friends and family members.