The most important day of the year for small business is only a few weeks away. Is your business ready?
In just six short years since it was first observed, “Small Business Saturday” has become a sales powerhouse, driving traffic to local and small businesses during the all-important holiday season. It’s now an American institution, coming the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year it’s November 28.
If you run a small business—retail, hospitality, service, online—it’s time to get ready to make the most of this day when consumers want to “Shop Small.”
In my more than two decades involved with the small business community, I’ve never seen a more effective or successful campaign than Small Business Saturday. The President shops small on that day. Congress and Governors and Mayors, Democrats and Republicans, young and old, support Small Business Saturday.
Most importantly, shoppers spend money that day. Billions and billions.
- 88 million consumers shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday 2014 – that’s one out of every four Americans.
- They spent an estimated $14.3 billion that day. Wow.
- Small Business Saturday is now the highest sales day of the year for independent bookstores as a result of the American Booksellers Association IndiesFirst campaign, targeting that day to bring authors into stores.
- Weebly—host of small business websites—said that sales more than doubled on Small Business Saturday 2014 compared to an average Saturday.
- A whopping 94 percent of shoppers said shopping small makes them “feel good.”
“Small Business Saturday has cemented itself as an important part of the holiday shopping season. Each year, small businesses around the country look to the day as a way to jump start their holiday sales,” said Denise Pickett, President, American Express OPEN. American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010, and has committed huge resources to the day ever since.
Work with Neighborhood Champions. Last year, more than 3000 local groups hosted Small Business Saturday events encouraging local consumers to shop small.
“Small businesses are partnering with other businesses in their community alongside neighborhood champions, local associations and government officials to celebrate the day on November 28 by hosting events and spreading the word to their customers,” according to Pickett.
There’s probably one in your area, like these:
- Detroit. Shuttle buses will take shoppers to small businesses and retail districts throughout Detroit with expert insights from local tour guides. Run by the Detroit Experience Factory.
- New Orleans. New Orleans Stay Local plans a “second line” (a brass band parade) making stops at local small businesses, with a “Small Business Santa” coming along.
- San Francisco. The Chamber of Commerce, SF Travel, and the Small Business Administration District office have teamed up to distribute bags, balloons, buttons to stores across the city.
- Chicago. The Chicago Urban League holds its 3rd annual Small Business Sip & Shop Holiday Bazaar featuring neighborhood businesses. The Lincoln Square/Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce kicks off a neighborhood-wide shopping campaign and ends the day with a tree lighting, with a choir, carolers and hot chocolate.
Get your business ready:
- Free marketing materials. American Express offers a suite of free marketing materials, but hurry. You need to request these by November 16. You’ll find the list of goodies at www.ShopSmall.com (under “Promote Your Business”). We’ve got our banner up already in my office.
- Plan an event in your business. Own a gym, restaurant, spa, kitchen or crafts store? Plan a special class or event to attract customers. More will not only come; they’ll stay longer, too.
- Sell online? Get your website ready too. Drive traffic with special offers; create a landing page of the day, and get active on social media.
Keep customers coming back:
- Build your mailing list by asking customers to share their contact info so you can stay in touch year ‘round.
- Engage on social media and keep the momentum going through the holidays and beyond.
- Offer deals for 2016. In November and December, offer discounts for products or services to be used after January.
Finally, be sure to shop small yourself this November 28. In my family, we’ve made Small Business Saturday an annual tradition, with coffee at an independent cafe, shopping small at neighborhood stores and lunch at a local restaurant. It’s a great way to start the holidays and support our communities too.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015
This article originally ran in USA Today on November 6, 2015