Yes, that’s right, billion…with a B. According to BusinessWeek, consumers spent that amount with their local small businesses last year during Small Business Saturday. Want you own slice of "Shop Small", but not sure what to do or have the marketing department resources? Your passion is your business, and lucky for you my passion is research so I scoured the web, spoke to consumers who frequently shop local, and found the top 5 tips for success on November 29th.
Promote your Individuality
Everyone I spoke with said the main reason they shop local, besides supporting their local economy, is they want something different than what they find on Black Friday. You started your business to reflect your love of something, whether it’s homemade dog treats or crocheted scarves, so highlight what sets you apart. When you talk to your customers (see tip 3), talk about your unique product offering and share pictures of people wearing, using, or consuming the product.
You are not alone in your quest as a small business owner, so come together with fellow small business owners to offer something extra to the customers. You can find out what events are already planned in your area through a nifty event guide on EventBrite or can create your own event. This is as simple as talking to the businesses around you, setting up coffee and donuts in front of your stores, or doing a progressive snack-a-thon where one store offers muffins, then fruit, tea, so on and so forth, thus enticing customers to keep shopping. Not only do you draw in customers from other stores who may not stop in otherwise, but also you get to split the cost by only offering one thing. Always a bonus to save money and meet new customers!
Talk to your Customers
Your customers are your biggest fans, so make sure they know about what’s going on in your store on November 29th. The easiest, and cheapest, way to do this is through email and social media marketing. Send your contact list an email enticing them to come into the store with a special offer reserved just for them…this shows appreciation for their loyalty, but also gets them talking to their friends about your delightful customer appreciation. You also create buzz on social media, focusing on the use of hastags relevant to SBS. No, you don’t have to reserve them for Twitter…you can also use them on Facebook. The official # for SBS is #ShopSmall, but you can also leverage #SmallBizSaturday, or even #SmallBusinessSaturday. Start the banter online, encourage your followers to share your posts and if you are so inclined, also do a special promotion for your social media fans!
Keep Talking to your Customers
I still send thank you cards and I appreciate a thoughtful thank you card almost more than the gift, so do not miss this opportunity to continue to delight your customers, both loyal and new. Couple of options here: make sure a business card goes in each bag with your email address and social handles, and ask your clients to connect with you and share pictures! When they connect, make sure to say thanks and follow/like them back. Also, capture their email address to send virtual thank you cards with an enticing offer for them to come back next month and bring a friend.
Learn from your Customers
Your customers tell you what they want, not just through words, but also through their purchases. Keep track of what people buy, what part of the store receives the most traffic, and if certain items are purchased together. This way you can rearrange your products or bundle products together during the month of December and beyond.
I hope you find these top 5 tips valuable and see your most successful Small Business Saturday yet. I for one look forward to getting out in my community to #ShopSmall and discover wonderful new treasures.