How to Get Your Business Ready for Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is more than just a promotional gimmick created by American Express Open back in 2010 as a way to drive more consumer traffic. Small businesses are an integral part of the fabric of entrepreneurship in the U.S., as well as a major contributor to our increasingly optimistic employment outlook.
According to Fundera, small businesses (defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees) account for 99.7% of all business in the US. Further, the SBA reports that small businesses (firms with 1-499 employees) continue to add more net new jobs than large businesses (500+ employees).
Regardless of the fact that Small Business Saturday started as a manufactured event, it’s become a symbol of small business community and support that you can leverage as we approach 2017’s holiday shopping season. Give your favorite customers and shoppers looking for something new the chance to show their love by spending locally on Small Business Saturday.
Here’s how to prepare:
Get Your Website Mobile Ready
As customers flock their hometowns, nearby cities, and vacation destinations on Small Business Saturday, one of the first things they’ll do is check their mobile device for directions, hours and promotions in their area. Make sure your website is mobile ready by using a responsive theme that automatically adjusts and optimizes itself for multiple devices. Check to see your site looks as great on mobile as it does on your desktop with Google’s free mobile-friendly check tool.
It’s also wise to think about whether your graphics, photos or videos are dragging down the load time of your site. No matter how fantastic your website looks, today’s customers won’t even wait three seconds for a website to load before moving on. Dump the slow loading graphics and stick to themes and assets that load quickly.
Though your business may be small, joining forces with other companies can make your collective presence look mighty. Collaborate with other business owners in your community and team up for cross-promotions. Leave samples in each other’s stores, sell bundled products together, or hold a giant multi-business raffle to get the community excited.
Teaming up with as many businesses as you can find can pay off big. Betsy Cross, co-owner and creative director, Betsy & iya + Little Boxes turned Portland’s small shops into a huge Small Business Saturday event with cross-promotional discounts. Over 200 shops participated, driving 6,000 purchases across the city – and their efforts keep growing every year.
Give Away Something Fun
There’s nothing wrong with offering some discounts and free samples on Small Business Saturday, but you can build more enthusiasm for your big event by giving away something truly fun.
Give away a giant gift basket with samples, novelty items, gift cards, treats and a few wacky items. Team up with your local hospitality market and give away a free trip featuring your products. Sponsor a free Segway tour through your city. Have fun with it, and you’ll easily build the buzz for your business.
Use Social Media Promotions
Whether your business is a brick and mortar shop or online store (or both), you still need a thriving social media presence to be seen and heard as Small Business Saturday gets closer. Kick off your promotions by building a social media campaign around the event that teases your audience with an upcoming mystery grab bag or offers “social media only” coupons.
It’s also wise to think about how you can scale and build up your social media following around Small Business Saturday by leveraging your existing customer base. Request that your fans or interested shoppers follow your Facebook Page or give you a shout out on your favorite social media platform in order to receive a free coupon or offer,
Remember that thousands of stores are already on social media, promoting Small Business Saturday. As the big day gets closer, look to see who’s offering similar promotions in their area. Study which hashtags the shops in your area are using or what’s trending on Twitter to promote your events. If appropriate, piggyback onto hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday.
Send Your Customers a Save the Date
Customers may have the best intentions of swinging by your shop or online store on Small Business Saturday, but they’re also being bombarded with promotions and offers from other area businesses. That level of distraction can deter even the most loyal customer. That’s why you need to do more than expect them to save the date. Send out “save the date” mailers, e-cards, email promotions or even text messages to remind them to stop by. Visit ShopSmall.com/YourDay for free promotional assets, like flyers and ready-made social posts, to show your support.
To get customers in your doors early, offer a promo code to anyone who RSVPs and shows up when the doors open. Turn it into a flash sale so people need to show up early to use their coupons and start spreading the word about your sales. Not only will this give your traffic a boost, it may even entice passersby to stop in and see what the excitement is all about.
Schedule Extra Staff or Volunteers
Even the best planned Small Business Saturday event will fall apart without enough manpower. Schedule extra staff on your busy day or overlap shifts to give yourself added coverage. If you’re unsure what type of foot or online traffic you’re going to get, ask for volunteers to pitch in.
Your own network, interns, or people from your community may be willing to pitch in for a few hours in exchange for early shopping privileges or an additional discount. Online only stores could ask people to plug the sale on social media or come help ship orders. You’ll get the extra staff you need – without the huge surge in payroll costs to match.
Throw a Party
Small Business Saturday embodies the spirit of community and small business, so why not turn it into a celebration? Make your event a neighborhood party with music, free snacks and beverages, party favors and games.
In Miami, as an example, Cao Chocolates and their business neighbors threw a Small Business Saturday party in their plaza with discounts and samples to entice visitors to stop by for treats and shopping.
Try getting your business neighbors onboard and turning your party into a small festival. Maybe even hire a live band to kick off Small Business Saturday in style. The more your business or store looks like the most happening place to be, the more likely people will come in droves and stay to shop.
Give Back to the Community
Small Business Saturday may be about shopping and consumerism, but it also couldn’t exist without your community’s support. Show your appreciation by giving back to the community on Small Business Saturday – maybe by donating a portion of the day’s proceeds to your favorite charity or raising money for an important cause with a raffle.
Think about your ideal customers and what motivates them the most. A kids’ toy store could run a “buy one, donate one” promotion where duplicates of all purchases made on Small Business Saturday are sent to a local children’s hospital. A gym could supply food and drinks to a fun run held on the same day. The more you give back to the community, the more your business becomes associated with generosity.
That’s a win-win for you and your community.
Tell the Press
Telling all of your customers about your event on Small Business Saturday is only the first step in raising awareness for your business. You also need to get the local media on board to spread the word on a larger scale.
Contact newspapers, local bloggers, news stations, and radio personalities about your events. Start calling every media outlet you can as soon as possible to give them lead time to develop their content and to get the information they need from your business.
Once the media is giving your business some love, they’ll likely include other small businesses in your community in the story. Take the opportunity to find out who those businesses are and work on cross-promotional offers that’ll give your coverage a big boost.
Keep the Momentum Rolling
Small Business Saturday falls right in the midst of Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, giving you an easy opportunity to keep the ball rolling through the holiday shopping madness that has become November. Transform Small Business Saturday at your business into a snowball event that includes a promotional strategy tying together the ongoing savings on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Drive more interest by hosting a completely different sale strategy on each day. For example, a stationery store could run events or workshops to showcase their products, while a houseware business could throw different mystery raffles each day to keep ongoing shopping traffic high. Doing so will help you capture customers that would otherwise be missed in the noise surrounding Small Business Saturday.
Ultimately, remember to keep your promotions focused on your customers and to make them as fun as possible. Wrap your coupons, discounts and promotions into the spirit of holiday giving for a successful Small Business Saturday.
What have you been doing to get your business ready for small business Saturday? Let us know by leaving a comment below: