by Stacey Dadd | November 22, 2019
On the last Saturday of November each year, small businesses across the nation band together to entice consumers to Shop Small. The initiative, launched in 2010 by American Express, was created as a means for small businesses to gain exposure and change the way consumers shop within their own communities.
While marketing on the front-end of Small Business Saturday – November 30 this year – is important, just as important are some other key tasks small businesses can do leading up to, and on the day of the event.
Here are 6 tips to help you – the small business owner – have a successful Small Business Saturday.
Before Small Business Saturday
- Take advantage of American Express’s free marketing collateral. This is a great benefit of the initiative, especially for those on a shoe string marketing budget. When visiting the Shop Small Custom Studio online, you have access to customizable social media posts, cover art, email templates and posters. You can customize the materials to match your brand and messaging as well.
- Band together. This is a great way to increase foot traffic on the day of the event, if you prepare ahead. Florida SBDC at University of South Florida consultant, Bill Burnham, has seen this first-hand in Brooksville. “I thought it was clever to have the shops band together and create ways for people to visit all the shops in the group,” he said. For example each shop gives out a ticket and the person who collects the most tickets wins a prize.Burnham has seen variations on the theme as well, such as a scavenger hunt or taking selfies and tagging or posting on social media.
Burnham, who is based at the Greater Hernando Chamber of Commerce, is also a big believer in belonging to a chamber. “The chambers promote the heck out of Small Business Saturday with their members who tend to be community-minded anyway,” he added.
- Create a bounce-back offer. A bounce-back offer is one that entices customers to come back to a store after Small Business Saturday is over, but before Christmas. This usually is a coupon or code that can be used on a future purchase and the value is typically more significant than a regular coupon. “The end goal is to have the customer come back and purchase more from your company,” Carl Hadden, associate director at the Florida SBDC at USF, said. “The bounce-back offer should be handed to the customer at the point of purchase and/or placed in the client’s bag along with the receipt.”
During Small Business Saturday
- Smile! You’d be surprised how difficult this is for some owners and employees. The idea behind Small Business Saturday is not only to get consumers into small businesses, but to make them want to come back. No matter the deals you have on Small Business Saturday, if the small business appears unfriendly, you’ve lost potential repeat customers. So smile and say hello versus burying your head in paperwork behind the counter.
- Get to know your customers. Kurt Forster, a marketing business consultant with the Florida SBDC at Pinellas County Economic Development, offers an excellent tip for making a personal connection with customers. “Ask their names and use that name in a sentence with them to help you remember,” he said. “Each time a repeat customer comes in, try to learn something new about them so that you can ask how things are going with their son’s soccer, or their work, or whatever you have learned about them.” Personal connections are part of what turns consumers into loyal customers in the long run.
- Encourage employees to do #4 and #5. It’s important that the entire staff understands the importance of being friendly and engaging with potential customers. Teach them how to do it properly by modeling it in their everyday work environment.
According to the 2018 Small Business Economic Impact Study, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. Each year, more than 100 million consumers have spent over $10 billion on Small Business Saturday, at local small businesses.
But if you own a small business, it’s likely more than just the numbers that drives you to continue being an entrepreneur. Whatever your reason, set yourself up for success on Small Business Saturday and help build loyal customers for the future of your business.