Small Business Saturday takes place soon (November 29th, 2014). Set up by American Express in 2010, the annual day encourages consumers to shop at small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
It’s a nice idea but, I confess, I was initially skeptical when I heard the day was invented by American Express. I used to have an American Express card when I lived in the UK and many small businesses refused to accept it because of the hefty fee the credit card merchant would charge them. Anyway, perhaps this isn’t the case anymore and the day has been established to build bridges with the small business community…
Whatever its origin, Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity for small businesses to generate sales. More than three quarters of shoppers say they will be spending more or the same amount on Small Business Saturday as they did in 2013, according to the third-annual Small Business Saturday Insights Survey.
Here are five ways your business can benefit from Small Business Saturday:
- Reward your customers – and you’ll be rewarded too
Can you offer a discount or freebie to your customer base? The apparel store, Pure Detroit, had a great idea to encourage shopping last year – they asked customers to bring in receipts from surrounding small businesses to show that they’d been shopping locally and rewarded them with a simple freebie, like a free cup of coffee. It was a win-win situation for all, encouraging sales at other local businesses, bringing more shoppers into Pure Detroit and rewarding consumers with a freebie.
- Take part in a local community ‘passport program’
Small businesses in towns and cities can take part in a ‘passport program’ where shoppers pick-up a paper ‘passport’ document in-store and have it stamped every time they spend money in one of the businesses taking part in the scheme. Shoppers can then enter a fully-stamped passport for the chance to win a prize or could be rewarded with a gift voucher to spend at a small business of choice. You can download the passport document materials on the American Express website here.
- Host an event
Consider hosting an event for your customer base. For example, you’re a travel agency, so you could host expert themed talks, such as ‘The seven Wonders of the World explained,’ ‘Which Caribbean Island is for you?’ or ‘A foodie journey through Japan’ where guests get to taste local delicacies. Get creative, think about what will genuinely interest your audience and it could lead to bookings!
- Promote your activity
Take advantage of the free business listings, marketing materials and online ad opportunities available on the American Express website here. And why not go a step further and contact your local newspaper to tell them about your exciting plans for the day? You could also write a letter to the editor encouraging the local community to get behind the day. Don’t forget to promote your activity on social media too, using the trending hashtags associated with the day: #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat.
- Continue the celebrations
Remember to celebrate your small business status every day of the year! Shout about the fact that you’re independent, have specialist knowledge, are utterly passionate about your product and genuinely care about your customers. Think about how you can replicate the Small Business Saturday activity throughout the year to engage more customers and accelerate sales.