In 2010, American Express launched Small Business Saturday to encourage people to do their holiday shopping at local small businesses. Since then, this annual shopping day on the Saturday after Thanksgiving has generated an estimated $85 billion in sales at independent retailers and restaurants across the U.S.
This year, Small Business Saturday is November 24th. If you haven’t started planning ways to take advantage of this opportunity to drive end-of-year sales, it’s not too late. American Express offers an array of ideas, materials, and customizable templates to help last-minute marketers promote their businesses. In addition, the following tips will help attract customers, boost profits, and turn Small Business Saturday into a success for your small business.
Create a compelling offer.
Combined with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there will be plenty of competition to get shoppers’ attention during this holiday weekend. While you may not be able to compete head-on with larger retailers, you can certainly take advantage of the high volume of sales traffic by creating special offers, deals, or promotions that will help your business stand out.
Start by thinking about what your business is known for and what might appeal to your clients or customers. The most popular Small Business Saturday promotions include limited time offers, free gifts with purchase, discounts on new items, and buy one, get one free (BOGO) deals.
You will want to make sure your offer is something your business can deliver on without risking a negative impact on your bottom line. If you’ve got excess inventory, consider paring a slow seller with one of your more popular products as a BOGO deal. You can also appeal to price-conscious customers by temporarily reducing the price of a core product or service. If you price it right, the increase in sales is likely to offset the cost of the discount. Keep in mind that it is critical to understand your product demands during the holiday season, so plan well in advance and stock up on bestsellers in addition to items you plan to promote.
Stay open longer.
To make the most of increased foot traffic, find out what other businesses are doing and what events are going on in your area and plan accordingly. If you usually open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. on Saturdays, consider staying open from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Whether you decide to extend your hours for the day, the weekend, or the rest of holiday shopping season, let customers know by posting updated hours on your website and social media pages.
Update your website.
Review your website from the perspective of a client or customer. Holiday offers or promotions need to be prominently displayed and your payment process should be working properly. Check to see that your address and contact information is correct as well. Many small businesses forget to update their sites as their business evolves, and you want shoppers to know if you have a new location or special hours.
While you’re at it, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Statistics show that 78% of mobile searches for local businesses result in a purchase. Whether you have physical locations or sell strictly online, make it simple for Small Business Saturday shoppers to buy your products or services using their smartphones.
Bank on social media.
Social media should be a critical component of your Small Business Saturday marketing plan. Research shows that 82% of small business owners are using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other sites to help get the word out. This weekend is an ideal time to tell your business story and let customers know what makes your services or products unique. People like to shop at places where they have a personal connection, so don’t be afraid to share the purpose behind what you do or remind customers why it’s important to shop local.
Consider posting photos of your preparations for the holidays or images of products or services you will be promoting. This can work for brick and mortar and online businesses. Announce your Small Business Saturday offers in advance, and remind your audience before and during the big day. Encourage followers to share the offers with their friends to extend your reach, and be sure to use dedicated Small Business Saturday hashtags like #ShopSmall so your business will be included in the national conversation.
Refresh your customer service.
Providing top-notch customer service has never been more critical. According to research compiled by Salesforce, 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience when they engage with a brand, from visiting the company’s website to connecting via their social media channels. Now is the time to review your customer service initiatives and refresh your processes as needed.
If you’ve hired temporary staff to handle the holiday rush, provide sales training and include your full-time staff to make sure everyone is on the same page. Run through scenarios that might occur during a busy weekend, and give your team the tools to solve common customer problems. The majority of Americans believe smaller businesses place more emphasis on customer service than larger companies, so deliver on their expectations by focusing on creating the kind of personalized experience that will differentiate your business from bigger competitors.
Partner with others.
It’s likely that neighboring small businesses and other organizations and agencies in your community will be participating in Small Business Saturday. Working in partnership with them can expand your reach and draw new customers to your business. Reach out to your area Chamber of Commerce or small business association as well as local merchants to find out what special events and promotions they have planned. Offer to be part of or support their activities and take advantage of opportunities to develop cross promotions.
For example, you could arrange to distribute coupons for your services to your partners’ customers. Offer discounts to people who present a receipt from their shops or cafes, and ask those business owners to do the same for you. The relationships you build can benefit you and your business now and in the future.
At Summit Financial Resources, we support small businesses every day by helping them find the customized working capital financing solutions they need to succeed. Participating in Small Business Saturday will allow you to boost sales and drive traffic by strengthening your connections with the people in your community. This is a strategy that will serve you well, not just during the holiday season, but all year long.
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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.