Since 2010, Small Business Saturday—founded by American Express—has helped retailers attract the attention of customers and increase consumer spending between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a trend that will likely grow with each passing year.
Is your store ready to take advantage of this special sales event (on November 25th this year)? Entrepreneur offers some helpful tips on how to make your Small Business Saturday a success:
1. Review & Update Your Website – Make sure your address and contact information is correct on your website and all your social media profiles so shoppers have access to updated contact hours, location info, and business hours.
All Small Business Saturday promotions should be prominently displayed on your website. Additionally, your product inventory needs to be up to date and your payment process should be in proper working order.
2. Take Advantage of Free Resources – If you’re willing to let American Express send you information regarding their services via email, they’ll give you access to free signs, email templates, web badges, posters and other marketing materials to get your business’ name out there. You’ll find the materials here.
3. Extend Store Hours – If your store typically closes at 5 or 6 p.m. on Saturdays, consider staying open til 8 or 9 p.m. Research the events going on in your town on Small Business Saturday so you can make the most of the foot traffic. If you do decide to extend your store hours, make sure you get the word out via your website and social media.
4. Make Customer Service a Priority – According to a 2016 study, while people continue to shop online, nothing beats an in-store experience. Small Business Saturday is your opportunity to make shopping at your store a memorable experience that will stand out from the competition.
Train your staff how to make a good impression. Practice scenarios that might occur at your store during a busy weekend and give your employees the solutions and tools necessary to connect with customers, resolve problems, and build personalized shopping experiences.
5. Offer Incentives – Raffles, games, and contests featuring attractive prizes will encourage people to participate in your store event and give you the opportunity to collect contact information for your own upcoming events and promotions throughout the year.
6. Don’t Bother Competing With The Big Boxes – Slashing prices may be tempting, but leave the Black Friday-style deals to major retailers like Walmart and Target. Instead, remember that consumers are shopping with you to support local businesses. Focus on giving them the kind of personalized experiences big-box retailers can’t offer…and they’ll be happy to pay for it.
7. Collaborate – Collaborate with neighboring shops to give consumers more reasons to visit your store. For example, the shop down the street might offer free cups of espresso to customers who show them a receipt from your store, while you might agree to pass out fliers for their coffee shop, advertising their current specials.
By joining forces with other merchants, you’ll encourage shoppers to make a day of the sales event and explore your town. As a bonus, you’ll pick up some free promotion throughout the city and develop customer and business relationships that can help you throughout the year.
8. Invite local celebrities or officials – Do you know a local celebrity or official who’d be willing to drop by your shop for a discussion, demonstration, or photo opportunity? By inviting local talent to your Small Business Saturday event, you’ll be supporting their cause while creating buzz for your store.
9. Support Charity Organizations in Your Area – Customers love knowing that their money is helping out a good cause. Spread the word that a portion of your Small Business Saturday sales will be donated to a local charity and you’ll most likely experience an increase in sales and discover that customers are more motivated to shop and more than happy to contribute to well-meaning community organizations.
10. Make the Most of Social Media – Post your store’s story on social media, documenting your preparations for Small Business Saturday to get your customers cheering you on. You might also consider taking photos of displays to generate interest. On the day of the big event, share images of excited customers enjoying your store, as well as photos of your fastest selling products.
Make sure to add specific event hashtags—like #SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday—to your posts. In 2015, over 241,000 posts across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were sent in support of Small Business Saturday events, so you don’t want to miss out those conversations.
Additionally, you could ask customers to take photos of themselves enjoying Small Business Saturday and have them post the photos to their social accounts and tag your store. Select the most creative, most liked or most fun photos to win a special prize afterward—one that requires them to return to your store later in the holiday season.
11. Get Mobile-friendly – A Kissmetrics study recently discovered that 78% of mobile searches seeking information on local businesses result in a purchase. If your website isn’t built on a responsive platform designed to adjust to mobile devices, you’ll miss out on all those shoppers who can’t make it to the actual store event but are willing to buy your products on their smartphones. Learn more about mobile-friendly websites here.
12. Start Small Business Saturday With a kickoff event – Invite loyal customers to your store, offering them snacks, beverages, and a special discount or freebie to show them that they’re appreciated and get them excited for the day.
13. Make it a Holiday Tradition – Align your Small Business Saturday sale with other festive events going on in your area. You might offer donuts and hot chocolate to spectators who’ve just come from a nearby ice sculpture competition, for example.
Becoming part of local family traditions will make customers more likely to return again and again as they create memories…and do a little shopping along the way.
Taking advantage of Small Business Saturday to drive traffic and boost sales is a smart idea. But why not keep the momentum going?
Hosting other events like “Random Acts of Holiday Cheer”, for example, will give you the opportunity to offer a series of deals that are available past Nov. 25th to keep customers coming back to your store throughout the rest of the Holiday Season.