It’s not yet Halloween, but for many small businesses, planning for the holiday season has started in full force. If you own a small business, it’s time to start getting ready for one of the most important days of the year: Small Business Saturday.
In all my years working with and writing about small businesses, the most transformative campaign created for small companies is Small Business Saturday.
Since its inception in 2010, Small Business Saturday—the Saturday after Thanksgiving—has become the biggest sales day of the year for many small companies. In 2016, an estimated 112 million Americans shopped at small businesses and independent restaurants on Small Business Saturday, spending about $15.4 billion. That’s about one-third of the American public buying at small businesses and a whole lot of cash infused into local economies.
“Thousands of small businesses have seen real results—more customers through their doors and more sales at the register—by participating in Small Business Saturday,” said Amy Marino, Vice President, Brand Marketing, Experience and Partnerships at American Express, the founding partner of Small Business Saturday. “All small businesses can participate, from corner stores to online boutiques to diners. Businesses can get merchandise and materials to promote themselves and the big day at ShopSmall.com.”
If you’d like to increase sales, support your local community, and have fun along the way, then I urge you to have your small business participate in Small Business Saturday this year.
“Small businesses and organizations can also apply to become Neighborhood Champions and rally the businesses in their community to get ready and celebrate Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25,” said Marino. “And support the local businesses that make your neighborhoods special.”
Whatever your small business, you can get involved. Here’s how:
1. Get free custom Small Business Saturday marketing materials
Visit the online “Shop Small Studio” for customizable templates for social media, your website, email newsletters, and for posters and event flyers, with your business name on them. Very cool.
2. Order your Shop Small Kit
Free from American Express, these kits include canvas shopping bags, buttons, banners, pens, and more. Give to customers and display them around your store. After you’ve created your custom materials at the “Shop Small Studio,” a link will appear for ordering your Shop Small Kit. The kits are in high demand so order yours well before the deadline, November 10, 2017.
3. Plan an event on the day
Events in local shopping areas bring in customers. Activities for kids, music, entertainment, free food all draw shoppers during the long holiday weekend. Many shopping districts launch a “passport” project where customers get stamps at participating stores, many of which offer discounts to passport holders. Once they accumulate enough stamps, they get a reward.
4. Create a “Small Business Saturday” promotion
Give a gift with purchase, ask vendors for highly discounted items you can sell as a promotion on the day, plan a one-day “BOGO” sale (buy one/get one free), or donate a percentage of sales to a local charity. Promote your specials to drive traffic.
5. Make sure customers can find you
6. Turn up your social media, now
Start building momentum for Small Business Saturday and find new customers who’ll be looking for the #shopsmall hashtag. Post regularly and use pictures.
7. Plan to capture contact info
How will you stay in touch with all the new customers you meet on Small Business Saturday? Perhaps do a drawing for a gift and ask for email addresses on the entry form (let them know they’ll be added to your newsletter list).
8. Rally your community
Become a “Neighborhood Champion.” These are individual small businesses, a group of businesses, or an organization helping to get other businesses involved, promote the day, and create events. Last year, a record-breaking 6,700 small businesses or organizations were neighborhood champions, reaching millions of small businesses across the country. Go to http://www.shopsmall.com/rally to become a Neighborhood Champion.
Finally, be sure and wear your “Shop Small” button and shop small yourself on Small Business Saturday. We small businesses must stick together and support each other.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2017
This article originally ran in USA Today on October 18, 2017