The weeks surrounding Thanksgiving bring several branded days of shopping for the holiday season. There’s the discounted madness of Black Friday and the online shopping deals of Cyber Monday. In between sits Small Business Saturday. Though it’s not as frenzied as the other two shopping days, it can provide a sales boost and additional exposure for small businesses.
Small Business Saturday began in 2010, and was founded by American Express. Small business owners can find marketing materials and tips at its website.
The statistics show that the efforts are working. The National Federation of Independent Business, along with American Express, conducted the Consumer Insights Survey for last year’s Small Business Saturday. Here are some of the results.
- Consumers who shopped at small businesses on that day topped 95 million. That’s 8 percent more than in 2014.
- Total spending was $ 16.2 billion at retailers and restaurants “among U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday,” according to the survey. That’s 14 percent more than in 2014.
- Of those shoppers, 81 percent “encouraged family and friends to support their local small businesses.”
- More than 85 million social media mentions were made supporting Small Business Saturday in November 2015.
Janey Whiteside, senior vice president and general manager of American Express OPEN, said in the NFIB press release, “Small Business Saturday is an increasingly important economic engine for independent businesses. … We encourage shoppers to support their local businesses not only on Small Business Saturday, but all year long.”
Here are some ways small businesses can get in on the Small Business Saturday action.
On Small Business Saturday, it’s a perfect time to focus on promotion and getting exposure to new customers. Use every possible avenue to maximize the marketing value. Rhonda Abrams examines some ways to do this on American Express’ OPEN site.
“Make sure customers and prospects remember you,” she says. “Reach them through your social media channels (go ahead and boost some of those posts), start sending out email newsletters to your mailing list, and take out ads in local newspapers (and yes, many shoppers still read newspapers — especially ‘hyper-local’ papers serving specific neighborhoods).”
Make the day special
Get into the festive nature of the day and the season in tandem with Small Business Saturday sales. Remember that it’s all about the customer. In a story for Entrepreneur, Hari Ravichandran asks, “What can you do to ensure their experience is memorable?”
“If your small business has a brick-and-mortar location, consider providing refreshments or hosting a special guest that’s relevant to your business,” he says. “Make sure you’re adequately staffed for the day (prepare for the rush!) so each customer receives personalized attention. Remember: A little investment can go a long way.”
As mentioned, the social media component of Small Business Saturday is significant. The hashtags used for various social networks can connect the business to the fun and effort of the day, for instance. As Abrams advises, “Now’s the time to step up your social media activities and get in on the conversation around holiday shopping.”
“Suggest cute or unique gifts or holiday survival tips,” she writes. “If customers have liked you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, make sure you’re busy posting throughout the holidays. And be sure to use the hashtags #ShopSmall throughout the season and #SmallBizSat before and on Small Business Saturday to join the conversation on the day.”
Focus on leads
New people checking out a small business can bring opportunities that last longer than just Small Business Saturday. Ravichandran recommends having a giveaway or a raffle, some sort of fun opportunity for customers. The key, he says, is getting their contact information, including their email address.
“After Small Business Saturday, follow up with those who entered within the next few days to thank them for their participation and provide more information on your website and ways to keep in touch on your social media pages,” he writes. “You can even use this outreach to share a special discount with those who supported your business over the weekend. You’ll convert those leads into lifelong customers before you know it.”
Don’t forget about loyal customers
Attracting new customers is a natural emphasis of Small Business Saturday, but it’s always smart to remember those that support the business all year long. There are many ways to do that through special promotions and giveaways, and Abrams offers some tips on the American Express site.
- “Send greeting cards to your customer, prospect, and vendor lists. Give affordable gifts to your best customers.”
- “Throw a VIP holiday party or open house early in the season.”
- “Invite your best customers to one-on-one lunches or dinners as a thank you.”
- “Choose a ‘customer of the week’ and feature them on social media.”
- “Give a charitable donation in a valuable customer’s name.”
Social and selling
A small business owner may think “sell, sell, sell” when it comes to social media. But some recommend taking a step back from that, in trying to connect with the potential customer. In a story for American Express, Phaedra Hise featured Katie Katz, co-owner of Bernard Katz Glass in Philadelphia. She is an advocate of Small Business Saturday, but regarding social media, she says, “You don’t kill them with, ‘Look at me, look at me!’ It fails when you are just talking about yourself.”
Katz recommends instead being “a content creator” on social networks, as in sharing information that connects to the business and expertise. As Hise writes: “Katz says that her content is primarily about running a small business and being a glass artist. For example, she posts stories and photographs about working with customers and helping them find a special piece. She may post a photo or description of how a particularly interesting installation is going. She also shares information from other glass artists whose work she likes. ‘I’m always thinking about sharing an article, or something about another business, something of value,’ Katz says.”
Consider online advertising
Usual social media efforts and word of mouth may not be enough to maximize the benefits of Small Business Saturday. As Connie Certusi writes for Entrepreneur, online advertising through Google and geographic targeting are options worth exploring.
“Update your Adwords by optimizing or adding keywords to match whatever deals you’re running for the big shopping days,” she explains. “These strategic changes, while minor, can really help you attract customers come Small Business Saturday. In addition, consider using geographic targeting. Geo-targeted messages on Twitter and Facebook will help you attract customers on the go.”Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community