Retail giants have their Black Friday, global E-commerce sites have their Cyber Monday, so it was about time that small businesses had an opportunity to shine. Back in 2010, American Express started an initiative to celebrate small businesses during the holiday season.
What started as a small following quickly became a global phenomenon. Millions of shoppers took to their local Main Street in an effort to shop small and support local businesses. This year, an estimated 80 percent of holiday shoppers said that they will be supporting an independently owned business. The majority of shoppers will make a point to stop into local restaurants, bars and pubs, clothing and boutique stores, food stores, and coffee shops.
So whether you are a seasoned Small Business Saturday vet, or you’re celebrating your first holiday season as a business, it’s essential to ensure that you and your employees are well prepared for November 24th.
With the countdown drawing to a close, be sure to check out these last-minute tips to help you stay organized and prepared for the biggest shopping weekend of the year.
10 Small Business Saturday Tips
- Start Early. The earlier you start thinking about Small Business Saturday, the less stressed you will be when the day finally arrives. You want to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to brand your business in the way you want to. For example, if your storefront sees a lot of foot traffic, it would be wise to order a custom banner to place outside for all to see. Don’t forget to keep an eye on when major retailers start advertising for Black Friday, as this is a good indication that you can start your own advertising as well.
- Order Promotional Products. Nothing attracts customers quite like free promotional products. The holiday season is all about gifting and giving, so why not show how much you appreciate your customers by throwing in a small promotional item with their purchase? You can even have free car decals or pens at the ready that customers can take for free if they are browsing through your store. Purchase these items in bulk in order to save money and don’t forget to include your business logo on each.
- Utilize Social Media. You’ve probably heard once or twice how important social media can be for a small business. These days, just about everyone has at least one social media account, so it’s time to start posting! Start your Small Business Saturday posts in early November by telling your customers to stay tuned for any sale announcements, or simply state the fact that you will — once again — be opening your doors to the public that weekend. Don’t forget to follow up with posts about extended hours and any other little details (did someone say free appetizers?) you might be offering to walk-in customers.
- Edit Your Website. Don’t forget that many of your customers will most likely go online before heading to your store. With this in mind, it is crucial that you update your website with extended store hours as well as make sure the directions to your location are clear and visible on your website. Feel free to add a custom banner, pop-up, or slider image that announces any sales or promotions you have that day. Sneak peek images of popular or new products on your website is a great way to increase the hype for local customers. If you aren’t satisfied with your current website, you can also opt to design your website quickly and easily by checking out a few online tools.
- Prepare Your Staff. If you don’t already have a few extra helping hands for Small Business Saturday, we highly recommend hiring additional staff. Having extra employees will be able to help you manage the influx of foot traffic, as well as answer customer questions. Be sure to have someone greeting customers at the door, a few people at the register to ring up and gift wrap presents, as well as a couple individuals who can walk around the store or retrieve items from the back room. For a more professional look, consider ordering custom t-shirts or polos for your staff so that customers can easily pick out your employees if they need assistance. It is also a great want to brand your small business.
- Try Online Advertisement. While updating your website and posting on social media is always a great idea, you can take things a bit further and advertise your small business online. While there is some monetary investment involved, the return is worth it. Talk to your marketing agency or enlist in the help of an employee who is familiar with online advertising and discuss what you want customer to see online if they search for your product or service. Google Ads, Bing Ads, Yelp Ads and Facebook Ads are a great way to spread the word quickly about a sale or promotion.
- Highlight a Major Sale. If any small business were to do a sale once a year, Small Business Saturday would be the day to pick. Crunch some numbers and calculate what you can offer your customers. There’s no need to have door-buster sales like the major retailers do every year; even a simple 15-20% off is enough to get customers through the doors. You can even sweeten the deal by adding in a free promotional product such as a mug or t-shirt with a purchase over a certain value. If you’re still unsure what kind of sale you want to run with this year, feel free to scope out what your competitors are doing.
- Put Customers First. Customer service is always lacking from big retailers during the holiday season. Everyone is working extended hours, and oftentimes the number of staff can’t possibly cover the number of shoppers in a reasonable amount of time. If you’ve experienced this, then you know first hand how frustrating it can be to try and get someone’s attention if you have a question. Make sure to always put your customers first — it’s all about their experience. If shoppers have a positive experience at your business, chances are they will highly recommend you to their friends and family; and nothing beats a word-of-mouth recommendation.
- Prepare Your Storefront. Small Business Saturday is getting bigger every year, so it’s essential to make sure your store can handle the high volume of shoppers coming through your doors. Be sure to order boxes, wrapping paper, bows, and other packaging materials. Order seasonally-themed gift cards that you can display at the checkout, or perhaps order a new batch of business cards to have at the ready to drop into every customer’s shopping bag. If your POS system needs updating, now is the time to do it. Look into installing easy-to-use checkout software that will make you and your employees’ lives easier. Don’t forget to do some tidying and cleaning up. Try rearranging certain sections of your store to ensure that your customers are walking through the whole shop.
- Plan to Network. Networking is a huge part of any small business’ success story. Whether you network with a local competitor or collaborate with another business down the street, it is always a crucial way to gain more brand exposure. Be sure that your business logo is front and center when you open up shop on Small Business Saturday. You can network with customers by handing them a business card, or hand out custom branded flyers around town leading up to Small Business Saturday. No matter what you do, never turn down the opportunity to network with another business or a customer.
Ready to start prepping for Small Business Saturday? Let the countdown begin! Don’t forget to order your promotional products online in time for them to arrive.