3 Steps to Your Busiest Small Business Saturday

Note: this post originally appeared on the Townsquared blog and was written by Ahmad El-Najjar. You can learn more about Townsquared at their website, townsquared.com.

The biggest shopping day for shopping small, Small Business Saturday, is around the corner on November 26. Last year, consumers spent $16.2 billion at small businesses, and this year’s Shop Small campaign is expected to break spending records.

The small business shopping holiday began in 2010 on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, as a marketing and promotional event for American Express, the credit card and merchant service provider. Their goal was to encourage shoppers to take advantage of rewards offered by American Express for spending money at small businesses. This, in turn, would lead to greater adoption of American Express cards and services. The promotion worked.

shop small amexIn fact, the Small Business Saturday campaign has been so wildly successful that, last year, the United States Congress passed a resolution to recognize and encourage the observance of Small Business Saturday. Whatever its origin, the fact remains: Small Business Saturday is in its sixth year of supporting small businesses, reminding shoppers how important our local small business communities are to the economy.

Just how important are they? Well, our 28 million small businesses employ almost half the American workforce and contribute almost $7 trillion dollars to the economy. It’s small businesses’ central role in our lives that has, in many ways, pushed Small Business Saturday beyond an American Express promotion; it’s become an integral part of the holiday shopping experience for small businesses and consumers alike.

What’s most important to small business owners is the millions of people coming out on Saturday, November 26, to spend billions of dollars at local small businesses. With such an enormous financial impact at stake, small business owners will want to ask, “How do I get my business ready for Small Business Saturday—and how do I increase sales?”

Well, you’re in luck because we’re going to give you a three-part plan—branding, awareness, promotion—to make the most (sales that is) of this year’s Small Business Saturday.

Branding for Small Business Saturday

The biggest plus of having a multi-national corporate sponsor American Express—which had a net income of $5.2 billion in 2015—is that it has the kind of marketing and advertising budget to make Small Business Saturday a nationally recognizable brand. American Express encourages small businesses to adopt the American Express “Shop Small” branding and use it to promote their own small businesses. This means that the corporation has done the heavy lifting creating the branding. Of course, using their branding promotes means you’re not only promoting your business; you’re also helping to promote the credit card. It’s business after all, and nothing’s free.

American Express has a customizable branding portal called the Shop Small Studiofor small businesses who want to personalize their branding for the holiday. The Studio offers materials for your social media, your website, and your storefront. Plus, you can even request free merchandise like stickers and the Shop Small tote bags at no additional cost. You can take advantage of these promotional materials and ensure that your current and potential customers are getting the full Shop Small experience on November 26.

To give you an idea of what the branding materials look like, we went ahead and branded a few for Townsquared.



Promoting Small Business Saturday

vertical shop smallNow that you have your branding, you’ll want to raise awareness so that your customers will come and support you on the big day. Here, you’re on your own. American Express has tons of branding materials, but you’re not going to get them to do any of the legwork.

It’s worth doing, though, because the shopping holiday isn’t just an opportunity to target your current customers. It’s also a great chance to get new customers while building up your email or postal mailing list. One way to do this is by using your personalized logos and branding materials from the Shop Small Studio, or your own branding materials, to create an email or mail address sign-up sheet. You can place this sign-up sheet in your store to let customers know that if they want to receive special promotion deals for Small Business Saturday, they need to sign up. You can also do this on your social media channels by creating a Facebook lead ad that allows people to sign up for your offer with their email address.

Once you have a solid customer list, which should take you a week or so to develop, you can start sending out some emails or postcards reminding your customers to come in and shop on Small Business Saturday. Time for them take advantage of your promotion or just show their small business a little local love!

Small Business Saturday Offers

You’ve got your branding, you’ve got a solid list of leads. Now it’s time to get customers in the door to make purchases.

On Black Friday the big box players offer their deals, and on Cyber Monday the internet giants have their turn. But Small Business Saturday is all about you, the small business owner, and the customers who support our local economies. This is the best day for you to offer them products and deals exclusive to your business.

Got a candle that you had specially made for your boutique? A branded clothing line? A signature dish at your restaurant? A professional service, like acupuncture or a physical trainer? Whatever your niche is, it’s yours and it’s local, so promote that uniqueness.

While there is no end to the types of promotional marketing you can do for special items or services, it’s important that the marketing is effective. Internet or snail mail marketing is likely the best medium for reaching your customers, so be sure that you’re nailing the messaging. If you’re struggling with wording, the Shop Small Studio package mentioned above has you covered with some sample messaging you can borrow.

74051483For example:

This Nov 26, we want to celebrate Small Business Saturday with you! It’s a special holiday created so communities can show love for small businesses like ours. And it wouldn’t be a celebration without customers like you joining us!

Everybody appreciates a personal message, so if you have the time, be sure to personalize your Small Business Saturday communication to reflect what’s special about your small business.

Last, don’t hesitate to make your Small Business Saturday stand out with a great promotional idea. While discounts are always appreciated by customers, so are cool contests, giveaways, events, or even cross-promotional partnerships with neighboring small businesses.

With the dedication of the small business community and the support of customers who love local, and even the federal and local governments, Small Business Saturday is a day everyone can celebrate all things local. Don’t forget to take a moment to thank yourself and appreciate all the uniqueness, character, and support you bring to your community.

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