Tools for Tomorrow: Small Business Saturday

 In Be Calendar Relevant, Drive Traffic, Drive Trial, Marketing Plan

Halloween is just over a week away, and then the holiday season will officially be upon us! With that comes the busiest shopping day of the year: Black Friday. While more and more large businesses (think Target, Walmart, Macy’s, etc.) are opening earlier and earlier (and staying open later and later), for some small businesses, this approach might not be feasible (or worthwhile).

Enter: Small Business Saturday, which takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In the same way that Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) has gained popularity as an alternative to the craziness of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday has as well.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday was first observed in 2010, and encourages holiday shoppers to patronize small, local businesses. American Express actually created Small Business Saturday that year, in an effort to support and promote their small business merchant accounts. American Express usually offers a statement credit towards their cardholders who shop at registered small businesses on Small Business Saturday.

Here are three great resources to help you get started:

How to Promote

Use social media, your website and your newsletter/eMails to customers to get the word out! Be sure to give customers and potential customers background on Small Business Saturday, why it’s important to your community, and information on specials you may be running in addition to any American Express promotions.

If you’re a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, check in with them to see how (or if) they’re participating in Small Business Saturday. If your business is along a main street (with lots of shops and cafes), see if your Chamber will donate balloons to decorate the doorway of each small business to help you all stand out. If the Chamber is not involved in (or aware of) Small Business Saturday, offer to help them get involved! Team up with your neighboring businesses to create something special in the neighborhood for the day.

How to Make it Fun

If you choose to participate in Small Business Saturday, make sure your employees know of other small businesses in the area that are participating, as well as any promotions or specials associated with the day. That way, everyone wins and folks keep shopping.

  • Create an in-store countdown calendar so your customers are reminded to shop small on Saturday, November 29.
  • A week or two before Thanksgiving, send a heartfelt email to your customers to remind them how much you value their patronage as a small business owner. Highlight your personal customer experience and any special services you’ll be offering for the holiday weekend. Showcasing the human side of your small business will help you stand apart from the big box retailers.
  • Make Small Business Saturday feel like a special day – decorate your store with balloons, banners, and provide tasty treats (perhaps from a small, local bakery?) for your customers.
  • Raffle off a prize, or offer a special something to the first 10 customers in line.
  • Promote your business and Small Business Saturday through your various social media channels! When using Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #SmallBizSat.
  • Check in with your Chamber of Commerce or Neighborhood Association – what do they have planned for Small Business Saturday? Make sure you are involved on the community-wide plan so that you don’t miss out on cross-promotional opportunities!

And while the main participants in Small Business Saturday are retailers, that doesn’t mean that locally owned restaurants, bars, bakeries, salons/spas and other small businesses can’t get in on the fun! Use some of the tactics above to attract customers, or partner with a local retailer for a small business cross-promotion!

Since its inception in 2005, Small Business Saturday has become a movement to be reckoned with. Don’t miss out on this fun opportunity to engage with your customers and your community!

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