This year’s Small Business Saturday is expected to have the largest turnout ever. An estimated 112 million shoppers made 2016’s Small Business Saturday one for the record books, a 13% increase in shoppers over 2015.
Tip #1: Start a charity drive
Be a “giver” in your community by hosting a coat, food, book or toy drive for neighbors in need. Offer a discount to customers who make a donation. One store put out a giving jar and had shoppers nominate a nonprofit to receive the proceeds. It generates good press and good will and gives back to the people who support your business.
Tip #2: Place business profiles on all major business search engines
Some of the most important business platforms include Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, Angie’s List, MapQuest, Yelp, Yellow Pages (YP.com) and Foursquare. For a fee, Yahoo! Small Business offers Localworks that helps you develop a unique profile and push it out to more than 60 directories.
Tip #3: Heavy up on Small Business Saturday hashtags
Get more mileage from your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts by using one or more of the following hashtags: #shoplocal, #shopsmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSat or #smallbiz. Hashtags make your social media posts discoverable by those users that are searching for the topic.
Tip #4: Plan in advance
Follow the 6-5-4-3 rule: Hang in-store signage six weeks in advance. Start your email campaign at five weeks. Increase social media posts 4 weeks prior. And get the word out about your sales and discounts three weeks before the event—and keep promoting them all the way to the big day.
Tip #5: Ask for referrals
There is no more coveted sales lead than a referral from a satisfied customer. It turns out that if you want a referral, all you need to do is ask. A Bain & Company study indicated that 87% of satisfied customers would pass along names, but only 7% of sales reps ever asked them.
Tip #6: Beef up your blog-writing skills
Blogs can keep customers engaged all year round, but only if you do them often and do them well. The best rules of thumb: Get to the point quickly and stay focused on the topic. Break up text with bulleted lists. Use a conversational tone and spend time crafting an alluring headline—make it an attention grabber.
Tip #7: Get listed on the Shop Small Map
Make it easier for customers to find you. In 2016, there were over 7.5 million searches by customers on the Shop Small Map. American Express also offers the Shop Small Studio, where you can get downloadable promotional materials to be used on social networks and in email and stores.
Tip #8: Offer concierge services
Show shoppers the love on Small Business Saturday. Offer free delivery of merchandise or a special gift with purchase. Uncork the champagne. Provide one-to-one shopping assistance. Carry purchases to customers’ cars. Provide gift boxes and gift wrap. Feed the parking meter. Provide a customer experience second to none.
Tip #9: Retweet local businesses
Take the time to share or retweet the content of local businesses, as well as other businesses that use any one of the Small Business Saturday hashtags. There’s a good chance they will return the favor, exposing your promotions to a much wider audience.
Tip #10: Don’t over-personalize emails
A “Dear So-and-So” email is likely to repel customers rather than endear them, research by Temple University Fox School of Business. What’s the type of personalization that is successful? Offers based on customers’ individual interests and preferences, which can be gleaned from demographic data and purchase history.
Tip #11: Use Instagram and Facebook to reach millennials
According to Pew Research Center, among 18-to-29-year-olds, 59% use Instagram and 88% use Facebook, with more than half of millennials who use these platforms visiting them daily. Twitter, although still reaching more than a third of the market, lags behind.
Tip #12: Remind customers why shopping small matters
Small businesses have created two of every three new jobs nationwide. For every $100 spent at small independent shops, $68 stays in the community, while only $43 of every $100 spent at big-box stores stays local. Stats like these emphasize the importance of Small Business Saturday, so use them liberally in your online and offline conversations.
Tip #13: Show customers you care about privacy
If you’re an e-tailer, don’t be shy about touting your efforts to protect data and prevent breaches. According to one study, half of consumers “definitely consider” the privacy and security of their personal information when choosing an online retailer. Make it a selling point in your marketing.
Tip #14: Rural businesses: Time to team up
Buffalo Gals Mercantile in Regan, North Dakota, is 45 miles from the nearest town. But that didn’t stop its owner, Katy Kassian, from reaching out to other outlier sellers to create a gift basket raffle featuring products from 10 rural businesses, which they ran as a Facebook promotion. Join forces to make SBS a success—wherever you are located.
Tip #15: Discover hidden customers
Customer research isn’t just for the big guys. The SizeUp business analysis tool on the SBA website benchmarks your business against others in your industry and region, maps where your competitors and customers are located, identifies underserved markets, and isolates those areas where there are potential customers—but little competition.
Tip #16: Make friends even if you can’t make sales
For non-retailers, Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for people to learn more about who you are and what you do. Throw a party, give a hot-topic lecture or class, offer free consultations or a behind-the-scenes tour. Create new friends and followers—even if you don’t make sales that day.
Tip #17: Rewrite your “About Us” page
The “About Us” page on your website is the ideal place to show the human side of your business. Forget those stilted paragraphs about what you do and why you’re great. Small businesses are all about the personal touch and building authentic bonds with customers. Strengthen that relationship by sharing who you are, how you got started, your values and what matters to you as a company.
Tip #18: Re-broadcast top posts
You write blogs, you post on social media to drive traffic to those blogs, and then what? More often than not, those blogs become buried in the piles of content on your website. Tools like Meet Edgar and Missinglettr automatically resurface older social media posts and create new ones, so your evergreen content is ever-viewed by new legions of customers.
Tip #19: Build your email list
In the time it takes to boil an egg, you can boost your email sign-ups. Try this: 1) Add a sign-up button to your Facebook page, 2) Link to a landing page in your Twitter bio, and 3) Add an opt-in link to your email signature. Voila!
Tip #20: Add star power to events
One sports store had college football players signing autographs. Some bookstores have had celebrity authors. Other businesses invite local artists or popular bloggers to stop by. Think about whom you could invite to entice shoppers and give them one more reason to visit your store.
Tip #21: Don’t look down on low-tech ideas
Some of the most potent Small Business Saturday promotions won’t be found on a computer or device. Retailers say eye-catching window displays and banners are a consistent draw. And don’t forget to place an e-newsletter signup clipboard next to every register. Remind employees to tell customers about the discounts and other bennies they get for signing up.
Tip #22: Give your best customers a call
Get personal. Call your best customers and offer them an extra-special deal or invite them to a post-event soirée. If you get voicemail, don’t hang up. Leave a brief, well-rehearsed message. The optimal voicemail message is between eight and 14 seconds.
Tip #23: Use software to create videos
Videos get favorited 49% more than images on Twitter and Facebook users watch more than 8 billion videos per day. Make your own video, even if you’re low on time, money and tech experience. Try apps like Animaker, Magisto or Lumen5, which uses artificial intelligence to turn blog posts into videos in 15 minutes or less.
Tip #24: Design new social media banners
Grab the attention of your social media followers by changing your Twitter banner and Facebook cover photo to a Small Business Saturday-themed image. Not sure how? Try Canva or PicMonkey—they make it simple and have lots of designs to choose from.
Tip #25: Leave an impression that lasts
Place handwritten thank-you notes in every bag. Take photos at your event and send them to local papers and bloggers (don’t forget to post on your own site). Send holiday discount offers to everyone on your email list. The goal of Small Business Saturday is not to get people in once a year but to build loyal clientele throughout the year.
Print this article