The annual Small Business Saturday campaign (November 25 in 2017) helps bring attention to the value of patronizing independent businesses in communities across America for holiday shopping, dining and services. Founded by American Express in 2010, the event has become a powerful force for generating enthusiasm and sales for local merchants.
In 2016, Small Business Saturday once again generated record numbers. 112 million people participated, spending a reported $15.4 billion in the U.S. Here are a few ways you can maximize the benefit to your community or business.
1. ANNOUNCE YOUR PARTICIPATION
Reach out to your customers and prospects in the community to let them know your business is participating in Small Business Saturday. Check out the SBS “Neighborhood Champions” program for a variety of free marketing tools to spread the word including social media, email outreach, online marketing, advertising and direct mail.
2. PARTNER TO HOST AN EVENT
Join with community organizations and fellow business owners to celebrate. Throw a parade on your main street. Host a neighborhood block party or downtown fair. Design an event that showcases what your businesses have to offer and inspires people to participate. And, don’t forget to leverage existing events in your town on the day.
3. MAKE SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY A SPECIAL OCCASION
Dress up the town and your store with signage, banners and balloons to call your community to action on the day. Also consider photo booths, free food or live music. One example — in true New Orleans style, Stay Local!, an AMIBA affiliate group, sponsored a “second line” brass band that visited several New Orleans indie businesses on Small Business Saturday, including a Small Business Santa!
4. EXTEND YOUR HOURS
Make it easy for folks to come visit you by staying open in the evening. This is most effective if you get agreement from a wide range of businesses to extend their hours in unison and publicize it in your local media. Consider doing it for the entire post-Thanksgiving weekend.
5. CROSS-PROMOTE WITH OTHER PARTICIPATING BUSINESSES
Connect with other small business owners and brainstorm ways to leverage your existing resources and to promote the initiative collectively in a way that benefits everyone. Consider partnering to offer discounts to consumers who bring in a receipt from another participating small business.
6. REACH OUT TO LOCAL MEDIA
Send a press release to your local newspapers, radio and television stations announcing your participation (AMIBA is happy to help you with this). Encourage them to visit your event and interview you and your customers on the day.
7. INVOLVE LOCAL OFFICIALS
Reach out to town officials to encourage their participation which would help provide the message of the day’s importance to the local economy.
8. REWARD YOUR CUSTOMERS
Consumers will be on the lookout for special deals and discounts. Reward them for shopping small by offering a small discount, a free gift with purchase, complimentary gift wrapping or a store gift certificate that can be used towards a purchase at a later date.
9. INCORPORATE CAUSE MARKETING
Consider donating a percentage of your profits from the day to a local charity such as a food pantry or animal shelter. This gives you another great marketing message to communicate. Even better, you will be paying it forward by supporting a non-profit in your community. Here’s a great example — the Nashville IBA partnered with member businesses to incorporate IndieNashGiving into their Small Business Saturday event to give their event more meaning.
10. KEEP TALKING!
Mention Small Business Saturday to customers, in meetings, at community events and to your friends and family and share some of the some of the top reasons why buying local and independent matters! Follow Small Business Saturday social media (and AMIBA’s) for a steady trickle of shareable news, graphics and tools to keep the message fresh.