Small Business Saturday (SBS) is an opportunity to boost brand awareness and snag shoppers’ attentions during the busy shopping season, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses, although service-oriented small businesses are participating in the day with increasing success. Always sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday will fall on Nov. 24 this year.
Small business owners can implement the following strategies in the lead up to, during, and after Small Business Saturday to improve customer awareness and loyalty.
Strategies for small business owners
- Get web ready. In the lead up to Small Business Saturday, shoppers will do their pre-shopping research online. Make sure they can easily find all they need to bring them through your door, including correct business hours, contact information, product details, and any information on seasonal sales or events. To stay on top of your web relevance, make reviewing your website a regular task throughout the year.
- Update Google My Business info. If shoppers don’t visit your website, they’ll look for information on your Google My Business listing. Update your business hours, add recent photos, and make sure you’ve replied to all reviews, addressing any unhappy customers and thanking happy ones. More and more shoppers are looking at reviews before they visit a new store.
- Expand or start a promotions contact list. SBS is a great opportunity to start or expand an email newsletter or promotions contact list with customer information. Use these communications to keep customers updated on upcoming events and sales. Perhaps offer a coupon to entice customers to sign up for the newsletter.
- Extend operating hours. Expand hours on SBS based on other local events around your store so you can take advantage of increased foot traffic. Also keep your eye on other times of the year when shoppers seem to want early or late access to the shop—perhaps right before school starts or before other holidays. Consider making extended hours on certain days a regular occurrence you can promote and people can depend on.
- Run customer service scenarios with employees. Busy shopping days and longer business hours demand the best from your employees. To keep everyone calm and happy, run through scenarios that might occur and give employees the tools and responses that will empower them to do their jobs and keep customers happy.
- Don’t compete with the big boxes. Promotions that work for big-box stores—like doorbusters or Black Friday–style deep discounts—may not work in your favor. In general, those shopping on SBS aren’t looking for bargain-basement deals, they’re coming to you to support local business, discover unique finds, participate in store or local events, etc. Bigger chain stores have a harder time customizing store events and sales to each town they’re in. You have the advantage here!
- Support local charities. Partner with a local charity and find ways to cross-promote them. Customers love to see how involved you are in the community and will be motivated to spend in your store if they know part of the proceeds will be supporting a local charity (think animal shelter, food banks, family support programs).
- Be social media savvy. In the lead up to any store event, increase quality content on your social media pages: post photos of new products, seasonal decorations going up, preparation for the big day/event, reminders of sales. Don’t forget to add relevant hashtags to your posts: #SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall, #ShopLocal, and #SmallBusinessSaturday. The day of, reward check-ins on Yelp, FourSquare, and Facebook with a raffle or coupon. Ask for “small business selfies” of customers enjoying SBS. Have them post the selfie on their own social media accounts and tag your store. Select your favorite and offer a prize—to be collected by returning to the store, of course!
- Host an event. Host a workshop or how-to tutorial, hold a scavenger hunt, think up an in-store competition or cross-promotion with another store, or simply give away hot drinks and treats to shoppers.
Each of these ideas can be repurposed and reused throughout the year to help differentiate your brand and keep customers coming back again and again. Take stock of what worked best and what you can improve going forward for any even more successful Small Business Saturday next year!