Thanksgiving weekend is coming up fast and with all the talk of Black Friday and Cyber Monday local businesses are at a loss to compete with larger brands and chains that promise midnight hours, doorbusters, and drastic price cuts. There is one bright spot in all the big business madness: Small Business Saturday!
With a big push over the last five years from companies like American Express, Small Business Saturday has grown to become a driving force in local communities. Sandwiched in the middle of BFCM (Black Friday & Cyber Monday) Small Business Saturday leans on the community spirit created by the holidays and falls on a day when consumers are still in a frenzied buying mode to get ready for the holidays.
A Better Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year’s Small Business Saturday is November 26, 2016. Sponsored and promoted each year heavily by American Express, the “Shop Small” movement focuses on the brighter side of holiday shopping by promoting local merchants. Small business owners across the country are joining together on Small Business Saturday to encourage consumers to shop locally and benefit their own communities and neighborhoods.
Sign Up at ShopSmall.com
Every small business still has a chance to sign up at www.ShopSmall.com to get free marketing materials and a free listing on ShopSmall.com where shoppers can go to search for businesses in their local area to shop with. Get logos for your website, printable signage, event guides and even email templates to promote your business.
Free Marketing Resources for Small Business Saturday
At ShopSmall.com, the American Express website dedicated to Small Business Saturday, you’ll find free marketing materials such as free downloadable signage for your store and website banners when you explore the Promote Your Business section of the site. These are provided to help you promote your business, but you are responsible for the cost of printing marketing materials.
If you are a qualifying American Express® Card accepting small merchant, you should highlight the double the rewards offer from American Express. The deal is that card members who use their card at participating small businesses now through December 31 can earn 2X rewards if they enroll their card in the Shop Small program. American Express also provides a free downloadable marketing kit that contains printable signage, as well as graphics and scripts for email, websites, and social media posts. You can download the 2X Rewards marketing kit here.
Be Easy to Find and Contact
When customers are doing an online search for local business, search engines are looking for the most relevant and accurate information. Both searchers and search engines rely on business listings to find the correct name, address and phone number (NAP), and both quickly disregard incomplete or inconsistent listings.
You want customers to easily find you on Small Business Saturday (and the other 364 days of the year), so it’s essential that your business name, physical address, and phone number are consistent and present on the dozens of directories and websites that feed search engines local information.
It can be a time-consuming task to take on – creating, checking and correcting your business listings – but not impossible and very necessary. A more efficient way to ensure you are being found with correct information that puts you higher in search results is to use a low-cost Business Listing Management service that does it all for you.
Join the Small Business Saturday Conversations on Social Media
When you check out ShopSmall.com you can get a social media starter package to jump right into the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The #SmallBizSaturday and #ShopSmall hashtags trends high over the next 10 days. Use this short window to promote your local business on social media. Repost popular Small Business Saturday posts and use the downloadable logos and images to customize visuals that entice your customers and prospects to come spend some time and money with you on November 26.
Hashtags to use and follow include #SmallBizSat, #SmallBizSaturday, #ShopSmall, and #ShopLocal. Watch these hashtags to get inspired by what other small businesses are posting:
Support and Partner Up with Other Small Businesses
This is one of those great opportunities to lead by example and buy from small businesses in your community, but get some of your shopping in before Small Business Saturday. Shopping local is a great opportunity for you to meet your future partners in Small Business Saturday promotion. Just like you, most small businesses are lacking a huge marketing budget to accommodate extra expenses, but if you work together, you can create local marketing push that really gets you noticed.
It’s a little late in the game to start a committee, but still plenty of time for some cross-promotion, shared marketing, and good old fashioned community spirit. It can be as simple as walking your neighborhood and taking photos of items or deals you can’t wait to buy at other shops and posting them on your social media accounts the week leading up to Small Business Saturday and encouraging those establishments to do the same.
Here are some additional suggestions from www.ShopSmall.com:
- Provide entertainment and activities to draw people to attend: get a local band or DJ to play music, organize activities like face painting or a costume contest, or set up a photo booth on-site to make for family fun!
- Invite local officials and other local celebrities to participate in your event: reach out to the mayor, councilperson, or other local officials to attend your event. Think about people who are celebrities around town and invite them to participate.
- Involve local businesses: invite local businesses to set up pop-up shops or tables to promote their goods and services. Design the event to drive consumers into their stores by encouraging business owners to offer special promotions on the day.
- Promote your event: spread the word to your local media and encourage the press to attend and cover the event. And don’t forget to spread the word around your town!
Do More This Small Business Saturday
Customers want to see great deals and community-minded discounts from their local business. Get on their radar and give them a reason to visit both their old favorites and the businesses they have been thinking of trying out. Entice your community to shop in their neighborhood and once you’ve got them in the door make sure you make it fun and reward their support with top-notch customer service and something they can take away that makes them want to come back.