Have you been developing Small Business Saturday ideas for the big event on November 24th? Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010 as "a day set aside to celebrate and shop at small businesses," with the goal to encourage more shoppers to buy goods and services from brick-and-mortar retail businesses during the year-end holiday season. Since it began, Small Business Saturday has joined the ranks of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as one of the key shopping days of the year.
If you’re looking for ways to prepare for and use Small Business Saturday to your advantage, get started with these ideas:
1. Get your website ready for business
Everything on your website should be operating at maximum efficiency in advance of Small Business Saturday. Do a test-run of the typical shopper's online experience, from browsing for items and adding them to a shopping cart to submitting username and password information and completing an actual transaction. Eliminate any extraneous elements s(such as videos or images) that could slow the user's loading time. And check that every key web page is optimized for mobile shoppers.
If you need help with your online marketing efforts, look for a service that can help you with website design, engagement, and more.
2. Leverage social media — check-ins, hashtags, and more
If you've been diligently building your social media networks, now's the time to kick into high gear. Consider offering special deals to consumers who use your Facebook check-in page, for example, and use the hashtag #ShopSmall on your tweets to ensure they appear on the Small Business Saturday Twitter feed. Plenty of information and promotional ideas can be found on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page, and you can share pictures with your followers by using the #shopsmall hashtag on Instagram. Come up with mini-contests, customer preference polls — anything that spurs interaction with your target audience. The potential benefits of getting some social media buzz going are significant, so be prepared to take an active role ahead of the big day, or appoint someone in your business to devote time every day to social media postings.
Don't hold back with your posts, either. Spread the word early and often in order to build excitement and get people aware and hopefully visiting your business.
3. Keep customers informed offline
Get Small Business Saturday signs and posters printed to display prominently throughout your store. You may also consider exploring partnership opportunities with other small businesses in your neighborhood, such as a joint purchase of advertising space in the local newspaper or on TV or radio.
4. Plan an in-store event
By injecting some extra fun into the day, you'll likely generate keener interest among current and prospective customers. Small Business Saturday ideas might include:
- Hosting a kick-off breakfast.
- Having a musician or musical act perform in your store.
- Sponsoring an in-house prize drawing.
- Serving free coffee and doughnuts.
- Offering door prizes, customer appreciation gifts, discount coupons, etc.
Think carefully about what your target customers might want out of Small Business Saturday. Will they be drawn by deep discounts in the price of your products or services? Or is an appeal to "give back to the local community" more likely to resonate with people? Determining what your target customers want or need can help shape the message you send out via social media, newsletters, advertising, and other marketing channels. Also, look into expanding your business hours (either opening earlier or closing later) to make the shopping experience more convenient.
5. Build your customer database
If you're successful in attracting a bigger-than-usual crowd to your business, don't waste the opportunity to capture new customer contact information. Invite people to share their email address, "like" you on Facebook, sign up for direct mail promotions, etc. Follow the same process on your small business website as well. It's critically important to nurture every lead you get so you can stay in touch with customers throughout the rest of the holiday season and well into the new year.
While online shopping has become increasingly popular, Small Business Saturday represents a unique chance to remind shoppers that great products and services are available in the brick-and-mortar stores in their own neighborhood. Working hard to promote your business on this special day may lead to an improved sales outlook as the year comes to a close.
6. Thank your customers
If you've done things right, you've built up a lot of goodwill among new and returning customers. That’s why it’s important to let them know how much you appreciate their business. This could be in the form of discounts on future purchases or another token of appreciation. No matter which way you choose to thank your customers, it should show that you value their patronage, and ultimately encourage them to return to your business.