While the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the U.S., consider these tips with safety in mind: using curbside pick up or delivery, promoting online orders, masks for employees and customers, and social distancing measures and capacity limits for storefronts. Always consult with your local authorities for COVID safety and business resources. 

ramping up for Small Business Saturday

Summary: Ramping up for Small Business Saturday will help you maximize the value of some national exposure the day gets from American Express and other advocates of the day encouraging consumers to spend the day shopping small. There are a few things you can start doing now that will make the day a success for your business:

  1. Start promoting the day now
  2. Think about daily or weekly Shop Small promotions leading up to the big day
  3. Don't be afraid to try something old school
  4. Consider some kind of add-on promotion to a current purchase
  5. Tag team a promotional plan with other businesses in your area
  6. Try a non-promotional promotion

Small Business Saturday could be a big "nothing" for your business if you fail to promote it, but could be a holiday season boon if you make the effort to promote it. Keep reading to learn more.

Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) has become a day when the idea of patronizing local businesses is promoted throughout the United States. How can you encourage potential customers in your community to patronize your business on Small Business Saturday and not only create some momentum encouraging them patronizing your business as the holiday approaches, but also helps you leverage that momentum for the rest of the season?

Here are six things you may want to consider as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches so your business can maximize the value of Small business Saturday:

  1. Start promoting the day now: American Express (the originator of the Small Business Saturday idea) offers Shop Small promotional ideas you can leverage to help promote the day, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop, or even start, there. Make sure everyone that passes by your place of business knows that you’re promoting the idea of shopping small and encourage them to visit your business so they can “shop small” with you.
  2. Think about daily or weekly Shop Small promotions leading up the big day: In stead of waiting until after the holiday to offer special prices, experiment with daily or weekly specials to encourage potential customers to visit your business now, instead of the big box stores, and once inside your business today, add some kind of in-store teaser promotion for a sale or drawing that’s going to take place on Small Business Saturday, so they return on that day.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try something old school: Years ago, my partners (at the time) and I, would send out a weekly postcard promoting something in our photography supply store to our database of customers (such a database is one of your most valuable assets, by the way). We often didn’t include any special pricing, but would rather focus on the core products we knew our customers were looking for and wanted to make sure they came to us to find them. I would drop the postcards in the mail on Monday night and we would start getting calls and see customers in the store by Wednesday through the end of the week. Not only did it help our store, many of our customers would start calling us on Thursday if they didn’t get our weekly postcard to see what we were offering. We produced the cards ourselves on the cheap and they yielded great results for us.
  4. Consider some kind of add on promotion: There are basically two ways to improve sales in a small business:
    • Find new customers
    • Encourage current customers to add items to a purchase

Create a Small Business Saturday promotional offer to everyone who patronizes your store during the month leading up to the day. It can be some kind of special purchase item, or a discount on something you know most of the would purchase anyway.

  1. Tag team a promotional plan with other businesses in your area: Working together with other local small businesses in your area can be a great way to increase your reach, share in the expense of a marketing campaign, and introduce your business to new customers. You can focus your efforts on complementary industries—a local flower shop could partner up with a restaurant that does wedding receptions or a local photographer, for example. But, don’t feel like that’s the only way to do it. This Small Business Saturday idea will work with just about any small business. If your business is located within a strip mall, for instance, you might easily be able to turn foot traffic to your neighbors into more foot traffic at your business.
  2. Try a non-promotional promotion: One of the things we did in the summer was a Friday afternoon warehouse BBQ. We’d open up the warehouse doors at about 3:00 pm and start up the grill to cook hamburgers and hotdogs for anybody who stopped by. We reminded our customers in our weekly postcard and verbally invited anyone we either talked to on the phone or otherwise visited the store. Not only did it create a lot of good will, it allowed us to thank our great customers and gave them a chance to see what we had in our inventory. This time of year, a hot bowl of chili or a warm bowl of soup on Small Business Saturday could do the trick depending upon the weather in your neck of the woods.

P.T. Barnum famously said, “Without promotion something terrible happens. Nothing.”

Small Business Saturday could be a big “nothing” for your business if you fail to promote it, but could be a boon if you get ahead of it and give your current customers, as well as potential new customers, a reason to shop small and patronize your business. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box because I’m convinced that doing almost anything will yield better results than doing nothing.

Good luck and feel free to share your plans and successes in the comments.

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