This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/grow-your-business
Think the only November shopping holiday your business needs to plan for is Black Friday? Think again: Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, has grown incredibly over the past 10 years since its inception. The shopping holiday has helped local small businesses and entrepreneurs garner attention in their communities and drive sales before the holidays.
It’s a great idea, actually, since mom and pop retailers compete against big box stores and e-commerce brands, particularly in the fourth quarter. Small Business Saturday serves to drive awareness of all the great things customers can purchase at local, independently-owned stores.
Here’s how you can maximize your brand’s potential at this year’s event on November 30.
Team up with other local businesses
Some shopping areas and communities plan community Small Business Saturday events, so rather than recreating the wheel with your own efforts, see if there are any activities you can be a part of. Sometimes areas with multiple retail stores will create a passport that shoppers can get stamped to enter to win prizes. Others will offer freebies or samples to shoppers on the day.
Check with your Chamber of Commerce and/or local business organizations to see if any events are planned. There may even be sponsorship opportunities that will give your business even more exposure for little investment.
If there’s not already a larger community event planned for Small Business Saturday, start generating ideas of your own, and reach out to neighboring businesses to team up. Here are a few to get you started:
- Pop-up shop featuring holiday-themed gifts
- Free pastries and coffee for shoppers
- Scavenger hunt
- Free kids’ activities
- Chair massages for shoppers
- Open house with hors d’oeuvres and champagne
- Prize giveaways
If you’ve got the drive and organizational skills, you can even sign up on the Small Business Saturday site to become a Neighborhood Champion, which means you can encourage other business owners to get involved and you can lead the organization of a neighborhood event.
Plan your promotions
If you’re also participating in Black Friday sales and promotions, you’ll want to make sure your Small Business Saturday offers are different and equally appealing so your customers come in for both.
Consider bundling items that go together that would make good holiday gifts, like body wash and a loofah or wine and chocolate. You can also offer a free gift with a purchase, give a gift card for a return purchase, or offer a bonus gift card for customers who purchase a certain threshold in sales.
Keep in mind that your promotions need to be pretty amazing to tear people away from the rock-bottom prices they’ll find online. Give people a reason to come out and visit your store, whether that’s great deals or the fantastic and personalized experiences they’ll have while shopping in your store.
Get people excited on social media
You can build up the anticipation of your SBS event on social media ahead of time. Give customers a sneak peek of what they can expect, and provide all details about your event, such as store hours or any requirements to enter to win a prize.
Need inspiration? Follow @ShopSmall on Instagram to see how other businesses are promoting their SBS offerings. And be sure to use hashtags like #ShopSmall, #SmallBizSaturday, and any local Small Business Saturday hashtags to help potential customers find your posts.
You could even hold an Instagram contest to encourage participation, asking customers to take a photo in your store and post it with a designated hashtag. This will help your brand reach even more people on social media.
Continue building excitement on social media on the actual day of the event to show people what they’re missing out on and encourage them to stop by.
Take advantage of free Small Business Saturday signage
American Express, the founder of Small Business Saturday, offers free signs you can place in your store to create awareness of the day. They also offer logos and graphics you can put on your website, social media profiles, and emails to further reinforce the message that you’re participating in the event, and how.
Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity for you to educate customers on the importance of buying local, and to start the holiday sales season out with a bang. Start planning your promotions and signage now so that your customers plan to spend money with you when the day rolls around.
Take notes on sales and results so you can use them to make next year’s event even bigger and better.