— October 31, 2017
American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage American consumers to buy from mom-and-pop stores rather than the huge box-stores and the ubiquitous online sites. It falls on the Saturday following Thanksgiving (Nov. 25, 2017), and you should be preparing for it right now. Here are some great tips to maximize your sales on Small Business Saturday (SBS):
Beef up your inventory:
SBS is a great opportunity to attract new customers, and the last thing you want is to experience stockouts in the face of high demand. If your cash flow is tight, consider taking a loan to finance extra inventory purchases. You need to have the merchandise ready to go by Thanksgiving, because savvy shoppers often beat the SBS rush by a day or two.
Check out competing promotions:
Don’t let your competitors out-hustle you on SBS. Be alert to print and broadcast ads, as well as word-of-mouth, store signs and mailers. Even though promotions will cut your net margins, the new customers you recruit are a long-term asset and well worth the short-term cost. Don’t forget to use social media to get the word out about the great deals you’ve cooked up for SBS.
Review your website:
You do have a website, don’t you? The big-box boys sure do, but yours can be more creative and locally relevant. List all your phone numbers and prominently display your store hours. Highlight SBS and how shoppers will benefit from the great deals you’ll be offering.
Feed the charitable impulse:
A great promotion is to contribute a percentage of all SBS sales to a popular local charity. The percentage is up to you, but even 1 percent can buy you a lot of good publicity. And that’s what you want – plenty of publicity in your local newspapers and broadcast media. Follow up with a photo showing the charity chairman receiving an oversized check from you. An enterprising local TV reporter might be interested in the human-interest angle, so shop the story around.
Bread and circuses:
Make SBS an event that will generate a rush of traffic. Offer free snacks, drinks, a raffle, maybe a clown to entertain shoppers’ children – you get the idea. Combine special events with special discounts and packages, and you may see traffic like never before.
Do you run a bakery next door to a coffee roaster? Maybe the two of you could get together and cross-market each other with joint SBS discounts. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Involve your workers:
Get them excited by involving them as you brainstorm your SBS plans. Their enthusiasm will help make SBS a success, and you’ll also score points by showing your employees that you care about their ideas.
Say thank you:
Personalize your gratitude to SBS shoppers by mailing, or emailing, thank-you notes. Collect address information via door prizes, discount cards and loyalty clubs. Elicit feedback about how to make next year’s SBS even better. Enclose a discount coupon to encourage a repeat visit.
By growing your customer base, you set the foundation for growing your business. SBS might just be the springboard to a larger store, more employees, and higher sales. The opportunity is there – it’s up to you to grab it!