Since its birth in the 1950s, Black Friday has become the pinnacle of American consumerism. Each year, as Thanksgiving dinners conclude across the country, millions of Americans flood shopping destinations in search of mega discounts, marking the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season.
Eight years ago, a new shopping tradition emerged with fervor—Small Business Saturday. Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is a day for consumers across the country to return to America’s main streets, shop “small” and show support for local, independently-owned businesses.
The tradition has catapulted into a huge success, rivaling Black Friday and the newer e-commerce shopping holiday, Cyber Monday. Small Business Saturday has helped local businesses re-enter the holiday business narrative with fierce numbers—in 2017, nearly 108 million consumers participated, leading to roughly $12 billion in spend.
As an independent business owner, participating in Small Business Saturday is imperative for a successful holiday sales season—which accounts for 30% of annual sales on average.
This year, Small Business Saturday is November 24; help your business get ready by following these tips to make the day a success.
Embrace the Small Business Narrative
Did you know that small businesses account for 99.7% of all registered businesses in the US? Take pride in being a local business—consumers want to support you and are curious about your story. If your business has traveled on a winding road to get to where it is today, don’t be afraid to share that anecdote. Build relationships with your customers, get to know them, and they’ll keep coming back. If your business offers something that big box stores can’t—a personal touch, higher quality products, or local flare—it’s important to capitalize on that.
Leverage Social Media
Don’t wait until November 24 to spread the word about Small Business Saturday—start sharing your message today. No matter the time of year, social media is one of the most effective ways to share your business’s story and get consumers excited about shopping local. Show patrons how you’re getting ready for Small Business Saturday to make them feel like they are part of your success. Create a Facebook event to remind your followers when Small Business Saturday is and include details of anything special you’re planning for it.
On the big day, highlight popular and fast selling products, and don’t forget to share photos of your staff and customers. See what consumers are saying and join the conversation by leveraging hashtags like #ShopSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #DineSmall, and #SmallBizSat.
Get Your Equipment Ready
Don’t let your sales be hindered by equipment malfunctions. Take the time to ensure all your technology is ready to go—everything from your website to your point-of-sale system. If you offer mobile and online payments, check to make sure everything is working properly, since many shoppers will also shop online on the 24th. Work on getting your website mobile ready so consumers can visit it while they’re on the go.
In addition to enhancing customer experience, it’s important to take proper security measures. Make sure you are utilizing EMV technology. The rate of credit card fraud increases during the holiday season, so protect your business and customers by offering EMV chip technology.
Give Your Customers a Reason to do Business with You
You don’t need to go up against the big box stores and slash prices for Black Friday, but it’s a good idea to offer some kind of incentive for customers to #shopsmall. Whether that’s partnering with a charity to donate a portion of profits from Small Business Saturday, or simply offering hot chocolate to get people in your door, adding a bit of encouragement will go a long way. Reward supporters who come in on the 24th by offering a discount to come back and shop or dine at your business throughout December—a special holiday discount, a free add-on or a charitable donation.
Don’t Forget the Simple Stuff
Take time to double check the little details. Make sure your website and social sites are updated with your latest address, contact information, and most importantly, operational hours. As businesses evolve and change, it’s easy to overlook these specifics, but they matter. Your customers need to know when and where to find you, so don’t make it hard for them to find this information. If you’ll be extending your hours on the 24th or throughout the holiday season, be sure to make a note of that.
Celebrate Neighboring Businesses
Everyone has a connection to local businesses. Whether it’s a favorite childhood ice cream shop, the town diner, or an iconic bar, neighborhood businesses bring the community together. Don’t overlook your peers—partner with them to make Small Business Saturday a success. Encourage your customers to eat and shop at other businesses nearby, and they’ll do the same for you. There’s no time like the holidays to remember the joys of supporting your community and doing business together.
While Small Business Saturday is important to boost sales and connect with the community, it’s essential to keep the momentum going. Evaluate how your strategy worked and tweak it if need be for the rest of the holiday season. Take stock of missed opportunities and think about how you can leverage them in the future.
At Beyond, we believe in the importance of local, independently owned businesses and want to see our clients thrive. Make sure to keep following the Beyond Blog for all things #SmallBizSaturday and learn why small business matters.