Small Business Saturday remains a relatively new concept in the retail world. But it shouldn’t be.
You’ve likely heard the term that small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and are actually the biggest employers in the U.S. That’s actually true! Townsquared reports that there are 28 MILLION small businesses in the United States. Compare that with dramatically smaller statistic of 18,500 large corporations in the U.S. We cannot minimize the impact of small businesses on our lives.
The biggest shopping weekend in America is no longer just for the big box retailers to hawk their fancy toys and TVs. Small businesses have a huge place in the marketplace through the growing movement of Small Business Saturday. But to maximize results of the holiday weekend, there are steps you need to start taking early to make sure your businesses is ready for all the customers you’ll be bringing in.
1. Make sure address and contact info is correct on your website and social media.
A simple task that many overlook. Google My Business profiles allow you to add hours, websites, directions, and even a personally written info section to help you build your presence online and make it easy for your customers to find out the information they want to know. Also make sure the information is current and updated on all digital channels you use including social media. This very easy step is often overlooked.
2. Do an internal audit of your website and view it through a customer’s eyes.
Think of what you look for when you visit a website. Is it a sampling of products? An About section? Basic information about operating hours and locations? Maybe all of the above? Take that perspective on what you look for on other websites and apply it to your own. Ask yourself what your customers care about, and prominently feature those things.
3. Utilize Small Business Saturday resources.
American Express actually created Small Business Saturday in 2010. The company remains a huge advocate of small businesses, frequently encouraging its card members to shop local and shop small. Because of their passion for small businesses, they’ve created many customizable marketing resources like signs, templates, and web badges. Take advantage of the resources and get them ready early! You can also register your business through American Express’ Small Business Saturday services to promote your business even further!
4. Go over customer service with staff.
Small Business Saturday is a perfect opportunity to make good impressions with new customers. It’s another simple step that might not feel necessary, but is absolutely crucial in attracting new customers who will keep coming back. In our social-media driven world, people look to have every day experiences. As anyone walks into a new store, that’s a chance to create a memorable experience for that customer. And it starts with how they’re treated by the people who work there. Take a few minutes to remind your staff how important it is to create good experiences for every person who comes through the door.
5. Become a holiday tradition.
Like was mentioned previously, people seek out experiences in their daily lives; whether it’s to post on social media or not. Try creating special aspects for your Small Business Saturday event to help your shoppers make memories. These memorable experiences create lasting impressions that carry far beyond the weekend. Special aspects of their shopping experience and making memories mean customers will return year after year.
6. Utilize social media and hashtags.
Leading up to Small Business Saturday, document and post your preparations in order to get customers excited for the event. Today, Instagram is one of the top ways people engage with different brands. In fact, TrackMaven + Social Pilot report engagement with brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter.
And using social media is a great way to hype your Small Business Saturday Plans, no matter the size of your business. You can stay in touch with the customers and fans you already have and engage with new ones who come into your store during the holiday shopping season. Customizing your own hashtag and using it to brand all the posts leading up to Small Business Saturday can also attract a crowd. But beyond that, be sure to use #smallbusinesssaturday in all your social media posting to stay in the community of other people using that hashtag online. Hashtags and social media marketing is one of the fastest growing forms of reaching new customers.
7. Partner with other neighboring shops.
If you have lots of small businesses in your area, team up and work together. Many cities have neighborhoods of local stores that create an event to attract hundreds of customers who might not otherwise come to that area. Sometimes it’s a block party, group promotions, or just a treat for coming to the store. Teaming up with the other businesses near you puts your joint marketing power together. Also, work with your city or community to promote the event through their social media channels and reach an even greater audience. Most city leadership is more than happy to promote local businesses.
8. Celebrate your small business community.
Even if you don’t have other small businesses near you, or a neighborhood event isn’t possible, sharing the content of other small businesses and engaging with them through social media is a great way to show support for the small business community. And those you engage with will likely return the favor.
9. Look beyond Saturday.
Yes Small Business Saturday is important, but come up with promotions and ways to continue that success throughout the holiday season. It’s important to prepare now in order to not get bogged down in the busyness that comes every December. Keep the promotions going throughout the month. Engage with social media followers for special deals and services for visiting the store. Gather email addresses at the point of sale for email marketing. Loyal customers want to know they’re appreciated, and you can show that through special email deals and promotions.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed during the holiday season. As a small businesses owner there’s so much to keep track of, but some early planning can make for much smoother sailing into the month of December.