Every year millions of Americans observe Small Business Saturday®, a shopping holiday held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. But unlike Black Friday, which is traditionally dominated by the large retailers, Small Business Saturday® is a chance for America’s local and independently owned stores to take center stage. Here are three tips on how small businesses can do just that:
- Think local. It’s tempting for small businesses to try to go after as many potential customers as possible, but national marketing and publicity efforts can be prohibitively expensive. Instead, small businesses should focus on their neighbors. Although most of a small business’ loyal shoppers can be found within its own community, there are still plenty of opportunities to attract new customers. For example, if your business offers a niche product or service that would only appeal to a specific demographic (say a women’s clothing boutique in a rural town) then your entire marketing strategy should cater to just those target customers. Don’t waste valuable resources trying to bring in faraway or unrelated shoppers, and just focus on high probability customers.
- Offer free or bonus perks. Small Business Saturday®, together with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, represent the busiest shopping days of the year. Most shoppers just don’t have the time to go to every store. They have to prioritize and plan their route to squeeze in as much shopping as possible. So how can a retail business ensure it makes a shopper’s priority list? Free giveaways, such as baked goods or tchotchkes, are good ways to at least get customers in the door, even if they’re really just there for the free stuff. It’s still an opportunity to show off your selection and talk one-on-one with potential customers. Another idea is to invite local musicians to perform during the day, adding entertainment to the traditional shopping experience. Plus, it shows that you support the arts, allowing you to build goodwill within the community.
- Think social (media). Since most small businesses don’t have giant marketing budgets to buy national ad space, social media is often the best way to get in front of current and potential customers. If your business doesn’t already have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, then consider using your personal social media profiles to help spread the word. You can use popular Twitter hashtags such as #SmallBizSaturday, #ShopSmall or #SmallBizSat to join and participate in ongoing discussions about the importance of supporting the small business community. Social media can also be an effective way to interact with individual customers. For instance, you can offer exclusive deals to shoppers who already follow your company online. You can also thank shoppers after they complete their purchase, encouraging them to come back and become long-term shoppers.
Small Business Saturday® is a great way for small and medium-sized businesses to get in front of a large audience. So whatever the industry – retail, food and hospitality or business services – make sure you take advantage of this national holiday to reach and engage with more customers. Small Business Saturday® is a registered trademark of American Express.