We hear a lot of talk about how important small businesses are. They employ over a third of the people working in this country. They encourage innovation, contribute to the economy, and represent the American dream to many people.
For all the talk though, people aren’t always quick to show their appreciation for small businesses in their buying choices. Small Business Saturday is a day each year committed to encouraging consumers to put their money where their mouth is.
Last year, more than 95 million consumers participated in Small Business Saturday. If you run a small business, this is an important opportunity you don’t want to pass up.Over 95 million shoppers participated in #SmallBizSat last year. Don't miss out in 2016. Click To Tweet
This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 26, so you still have some time to prepare. Here are five steps you can take to make the most of Small Business Saturday 2016.
1. Make sure you’re well stocked with items that make good gifts.
You know what people are looking for on November 26. Some may pick up a few items for themselves if they see good enough deals, but most of the consumers that head to your store that day will be looking for holiday gifts.
Do an audit of what’s available in your store now (whether it’s a storefront, web store, or both) to identify which items you feel are the most likely to end up wrapped up as gifts this holiday season. Consider if you have items that can be re-packaged or bundled to make them work even better as gifts.
Brainstorm ways to optimize the merchandise you have so it’s well suited for holiday gift giving season. If people see lots of great gift opportunities in your store, the likelihood of spending their money with you will increase significantly.
2. Increase your marketing efforts.
Think strategically about how to use your marketing channels and tactics to drive people to your small business on Small Business Saturday. This probably means putting less focus on your long-term marketing strategies like SEO for the moment, and increasing your investment in the marketing tactics that drive fast results like PPC ads, promotions on your website homepage, and using social media to broadcast your upcoming deals and involvement in Small Business Saturday.
American Express conveniently provides customizable marketing materials for businesses participating in Small Business Saturday. Take a couple of minutes to customize them for your business, then use them to promote your involvement on your website, social media, and your physical storefront (if you have one).
3. Offer attractive deals and special pricing.
This time of year, anything you can offer to sweeten the pot will make customers more likely to buy. Consider what deals to offer. Are you open to providing a storewide Small Business Saturday discount, or maybe a discount for anyone that spends at least a certain amount of money? Maybe you could provide free gift wrapping or free shipping to anyone that orders something on that day?
You could offer coupons or special deals to people on your email list to make them feel special. Or you can get clever with your marketing and provide a special code to people who visit your website or see your promotions on social media that earns them an extra 5% off.
Whatever you do, make sure you offer something. A lot of other small businesses will be doing so, so your customers are going to expect it. And the volume of buyers will likely offset any profits you might lose through discounted prices.
4. Make sure you schedule plenty of staff for the day itself.
One thing you don’t want customers to face on Small Business Saturday when they walk through the door is an extremely long line. If things just get so busy that it’s unavoidable, that’s life, but do your best to make sure you have plenty of staff available to help customers out.
Ideally, Small Business Saturday will help bring new customers your way, so you want to make sure the experience they have their first time (and that your regulars have as well) is an outstanding one. If you play your cards right, you could earn yourself some customers for life with the help of Small Business Saturday promotions.
5. Get in the community spirit.
Small Business Saturday is about you, but it’s not just about you. It’s about the larger small business community and, in particular, the small businesses that are a part of your local community. Figure out a way to show your larger support to the community.
That could mean donating a portion of what you make that day to local causes. It could mean partnering with other small businesses nearby to help send customers each other’s way.
The people coming your way on Small Business Saturday care about the community, or they wouldn’t be all that concerned with supporting small businesses to begin with. Show them you care too and your shared values could help inspire customer loyalty that goes far beyond one day a year.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.