By Nicole Larrauri
Now in its sixth year, Small Business Saturday, the holiday shopping day that falls between seasonal icons Black Friday and Cyber-Monday, is finally coming into its own. This November 28th, an estimated 88 million consumers will shop locally – and inject some 14.3 billion dollars into their community economies. It’s a perfect time to introduce new customers to your store while re-establishing ties with existing customers. Is your small business ready to take advantage of the day?
Here are 5 tips for making the most of the Small Business Saturday, the day consumers are focused on supporting Main Street outlets like yours.
1) Signage, Signage, Signage
Make a special effort to let first time shoppers and window browsers know that they are welcome to come in and check out your store. This is the time to let everyone know, through signage, what specials you’re running, what other services you might provide – like repairs, product demos or classes. Many SBD shoppers will be new to your store. Make that good first impressions and educate them about your product offerings and services that they might not have been aware of.
Make your store stand out with balloons and signage that will draw casual window shoppers into your business.
For help with this, whether you’re an American Express merchant or not, (Am Ex founded Small Business Saturday), you can download print outs and other promotional materials at their site: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/
2) Host a Special Store Event
Promote the festive mood and comradery that comes with the holiday shopping experience by engaging your potential customers with an exciting store-wide event. Make your store irresistible to first timers! This could be mean holding an in-store sweepstakes, offering free coffee or seasonal treats, hosting a special appearance by Santa Claus, a local celebrity or community organization, or sponsoring a toys-for-tots or similar type charity collection. Anything to infect customers with that special holiday mood – and show you’re a vibrant, giving member of the community.
3) Partner With Your Neighboring Stores
There’s no need to go it alone. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or your adjacent store owners to see what plans they have for Small Business Saturday. Then look for ways to tie-in or mutually support one another on the day. Perhaps you provide a coupon to your patrons that’s good for a discount at your neighbor’s shop and vice versa. Find out if your local paper is running any kind of Small Business Saturday advertising spread that you might be able to get a discounted ad rate for – or split the costs with a group ad with your neighboring stores.
4) Leverage Franchise or Dealer Promotions
If you’re part of a national franchise or represent a large brand as an exclusive dealer, be sure to take advantage of any promotions they may be running. Brother sewing dealers, for example, can take advantage of marketing and advertising tie-ins that the company runs that will results in getting more foot traffic into the shop. If your franchise or dealership company is promoting a specific product or service, be sure your store incorporates the promotion, to assure customers that, even though you are independent, you (and they) have the backing and support of an established, well-known entity.
5) Don’t Forget Social Media
Part of your job as a small business is to promote Small Business Saturday to those who are not yet familiar with the concept. One great way to do this is through posts on your store’s social media channels and web site. Be sure to let people know you are taking part in Small Business Saturday, explain how supporting you supports the larger community, and detail any special promotions you’re running in association with the day. And don’t wait ‘til November 28th to launch your campaign. Post early and often about the event – and generate some buzz leading up to the event.
Nicole Larrauri is president of The EGC Group, a leading digital agency in New York.