Small business owners can often find it difficult to compete against the big chain stores and eCommerce giants. If you’ve been finding it hard to stand out, Small Business Saturday is the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on your products and services. According to a survey by Grasshopper, in 2016 112 million people participated in Small Business Saturday, accounting for $15.4 billion in sales. We reached out to small business owners and industry experts to learn how you can get the most out of the holiday. Check out their advice below.
1. Have a Plan in Place
“The best way for small businesses to maximize on Small Business Saturday is to create a Small Business Saturday plan and strategy. After all, if you don’t know how to take advantage of the day, you’ll miss the opportunity to capitalize on the potential for sales, leads, engagement, partnerships, and PR. Your small business plan and strategy may include the following:
- Website optimization
- Google My Business
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Word of mouth marketing
- Radio advertising
- Utilizing marketing materials provided by your local chamber of commerce
- Partnering with other local businesses within your industry/specialty or shopping center
- Press releases
- Direct mail
- Creatives (flyers, images, videos, etc.)"
Amandah T. Blackwell, MSM, SEO Content & Digital Marketing Consultant at Savy-Writer
2. Get Other Business Owners Involved
“One of our favorite strategies is for small businesses to work together and compliment each other. This provides more value to the customers and each business can benefit from the increased traffic. Examples could be having a local juice bar set up a tasting table in your home décor shop. They could, in return, feature some of your items and marketing materials in their location. You will get access to each other’s in-person visitors, and if done right, each other’s social media, email, and other digital marketing efforts. Don’t forget to bring along ways for new potential customers to engage with you once they’ve left, such as a tablet for email sign-ups, QR codes for social media, and marketing collateral so you can capitalize on all the additional attention!” - Chris Bernard, Financial Analyst & Director of Ecommerce for West Federal Retail
3. Think About the Customer Experience
“The best way small retailers can attract shoppers on Small Business Saturday and beyond is to provide and promote the in-store customer experience. Retailers who provide a strong customer experience via personable staff or find a way to create a shopping experience that doubles as a medium of entertainment will attract and win shoppers.
Make the shopping experience more than just buying a product, but think about the experience that accompanies visiting a store like in-store demos or events that showcase products and entertain shoppers. Events help elevate the customer experience to grow engagement and build affinity with customers” - Carlos Castelan, Managing Director of The Navio Group
4. Think About Brand Visibility
“Not too many people will pass up a free item. Take advantage of this fact with a promotion that gives an item printed with your name and logo to customers who patronize you on Small Business Saturday. Choose bulk-priced, useful items such as customized tote bags, koozies, bottle openers, pens and chip clips. It’s the perfect opportunity to turn shoppers into loyal customers. It’s also a great marketing strategy; your name and logo will get tons of exposure for months and years to come!” - Shelley Grieshop, Creative Writer at Totally Promotional
5. Utilize Social Media
“Small businesses can use their social media presence to drive more people to their doors on Small Business Saturday. In the weeks before, begin promoting any sales, specials, or events that you'll have for that day, using local hashtags as well as the hashtags for Small Business Saturday. Then, on the day of, offer a discount or free gift to anyone who can show at checkout that they have posted that they are visiting your store for Small Business Saturday. Help your customers market for you on social media.” Sabrina Torres, Owner, and Founder of Be Truly Social
6. Keep an Eye on Your Inventory
“Stock up on potentially popular items. The last thing you'll want is to run out of your most popular merchandise before the season is over. That's why it's critical to understand your product or service demands during the holiday season. Plan strategically in advance.” -David Gilbert, CEO of National Funding
7. Offer Discounts and Freebies
“We offer big discounts on our services in order to keep getting hired long after Small Business Saturday. Our business relies on repetition, so we gift the first service. We recommend other businesses to use similar strategies, they work like a charm. If you provide a decent service at a good rate you will sell. That day may not be an earning day, but your goal is for the long run. So, prepare for a busy month, because people spend their money in November and December. If you set up properly, a local business can bloom on this day.” - Alberto Navarrete, General Manager of Frisco Maids
8. Get into the Holiday Spirit
“Pull together the products that lend themselves to gift-giving. At this time of year, this is what most customers will be looking for, so make it easy for them. Group together products that fall into the stocking-stuffer or Secret Santa categories, like giftable items in the $5 to $10 range, as well as those in the $25-$30 range, which is another key price point for gifts.
If you don't have products in that range, consider grouping together lower-priced items to make gift-bundles. You can even pre-wrap them so that is easy for your customers to pick up the perfect gift." - Catherine Erdly, Founder of Future Retail Consulting
9. Utilize the Local Media
“News outlets will be reporting on Small Business Saturday, the best way to capitalize on this is to make yourself available to journalists to comment on this by contacting them and introducing yourself beforehand. You don't always need to push your business products and services, sometimes it is best to focus on the benefits of Small Business Saturday to raise awareness so that this generates interest. Once potential customers are interested you can then promote your products and services.” - Umarah Hussain, PR and Outreach Executive at Colewood
10. Don’t Forget About Online Shoppers
“While Small Business Saturday might conjure up images of shopping on Main Street, don’t forget about all the ways consumers can shop small businesses online too. Those small businesses that focus on perfecting their online presence are likely to have higher revenues. For example, according to the new GS1 US research, 97% of those using an online marketplace such as Amazon or eBay have recorded revenue growth of 25% or higher in the past 12 months.
In preparation for Small Business Saturday, small brands should make sure they are offering complete and accurate product information online, including extended details like whether or not a product is machine washable, if it is organic, contains a known allergen, or if it is environmentally friendly. With the majority of consumers today researching products prior to purchase, making extended product details available enhances customer trust in products and in the brand itself. A good experience holiday shopping now can lead to repeat business in the future.” - Kaitlin Friedmann, Director of Public Relations for GS1 US
11. Be Prepared for Extra Shipments
“If you’re in the business of shipping products… have a strategic shipping plan in place That includes having an express shipping option for customers and notifying customers early on about your shipping windows.” - Tim Joo, Fiverr buyer, and co-founder of Haerfest
12. Get Competitive
“For Small Business Saturday, and for any time you want to increase sales and increase customer loyalty, set up a contest where people register to win lots of prizes. Then, with their entry information, on paper or by email, you can keep in touch with them and let them know about future special offers and deals.” - Robert Barrows, President of R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations
13. Claim Review Listings
“One of the most important things small businesses can do to increase Small Business Saturday sales is to make sure they've claimed their business listings on all of the major review sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. 9 out of 10 people conduct online searches when deciding where to spend their money, 97% of people read online reviews for local businesses, and businesses that claim their business listing on at least 1 of the major review sites earn 25% more annual revenue than those that don't claim any. The easier it is for customers to find a local business online, the more likely they are to visit and spend.” - Ellen Ford, Marketing Communications Specialist at Womply
14. Create a Sense of Urgency
“I’m going to run video Facebook ads for my top-selling product. I’m marking the product down to 25% with a coupon code that is only good on Saturday. This creates a sense of urgency for buyers so they are more likely to purchase. Having a time-sensitive offer is paramount when you want to sell more of an item on a specific day.” - Becky Beach, eCommerce owner, and Business Blogger at MomBeach.com
15. Extend Your Hours
“This one is simple but often overlooked. I would suggest extending your hours to make the most of the day. If you normally open up at 8:00 A.M and close at 6:00 P.M consider opening at 6:00 A.M and closing at 8:00 P.M. This will allow you to get a few extra hours of sales in, and better yet you’ll potentially obtain repeat customers throughout the year.” - Sean Pour, Co-Founder of SellMax
16. Recruit Brand Ambassadors
“Recruit ambassadors for your brand so that they can take your campaign and spread the word. If you are offering products, equip your ambassadors with the product so that they can show off what you have to offer. Schedule them for a specific time and day to launch. This way everyone can launch simultaneously leading to successfully generating traffic for your brand. Remember, ambassadors don't have to be people with huge brands or lot so followers. Choose people that represent your brand that are influential in their network.” - Roxana Colorado, International Business Strategist at Kandula International, LLC
Small Business Saturday is the perfect time of year boost sales and attract new customers. With these tips in mind, your holiday season is sure to be a success.
CoverWallet aims to help all small businesses thrive. The opinions and recommendations featured here are those of our editorial team alone and are meant for informational purposes only.