Small Business Saturday is just around the corner -- and consumers are prepared to spend. According to Accenture, 40 percent of Americans plan to spend more on holiday shopping this year compared to last year, both in stores and online via computers and mobile devices, so it’s your job to earn their attention and dollar.
If it snuck up on you, don’t worry. A few simple steps of preparation can go a long way to maximize your efforts and kick off the holiday shopping season. If you’re planning to participate, here are a few attention-grabbing tips to have some fun while cultivating your customer base for the year to come.
1. Host a special event.
Running a promotion or discount is a great way to attract interest from new customers, but making sure those customers have a great shopping experience will keep them coming back. What can you do to ensure their experience is memorable? If your small business has a brick-and-mortar location, consider providing refreshments or hosting a special guest that’s relevant to your business. Make sure you’re adequately staffed for the day (prepare for the rush!) so each customer receives personalized attention. Remember: A little investment can go a long way.
2. Capture new leads.
You got customers in the door, so make sure you get to know them. Take advantage of the Small Business Saturday rush by running a raffle or giveaway to generate excitement -- which is also a great way to capture email addresses or contact information.
After Small Business Saturday, follow-up with those who entered within the next few days to thank them for their participation and provide more information on your website and ways to keep in touch on your social media pages. You can even use this outreach to share a special discount with those who supported your business over the weekend. You’ll convert those leads into lifelong customers before you know it.
3. Update your online presence to get in the spirit.
People want to support Small Business Saturday, and awareness is at an all-time high, according to a 2014 survey by the NFIB and American Express -- but they want to know where they can go to can shop small. Outdated information online isn’t helpful, and if you are hard to find, it can be frustrating to potential customers.
Make sure your website -- including key information like location and hours -- is up-to-date. Don’t have a website yet? You can build one quickly with the help of hosts like Bluehost, HostGator or iPage. Get in the spirit by changing your Twitter banner and Facebook cover photo to a Small Business Saturday-themed image that reminds customers to stop by on November 28. Sites like Canva.com will do all the work for you.
4. Reward check-ins.
Incentivize customers to share the news that they stopped by your store on Small Business Saturday. Offer a special promotion or discount to those who show they’ve checked into Yelp, Facebook or Swarm. The most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust, so seeing a friend’s check-in on social media will raise awareness for your store. According to Nielsen, 83 percent of global respondents say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family.
5. Celebrate other small businesses.
Show your community support by following, re-tweeting or promoting other local businesses in your area. Chances are, they’ll end up doing the same for you, offering exposure to an entirely new set of followers and potential customers. You can also go analog here and make Small Business Saturday an event in your neighborhood by hanging balloons, giving away treats and pointing customers to other businesses they might like.
6. Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag.
In order to truly join the Small Business Saturday movement on social media, you must always include the proper hashtags in your posts. The most popular: #SmallBizSat #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday. In addition to tweeting yourself, you can also encourage your customers to tweet for you. Last year for Small Business Saturday 2014, more than 126,000 tweets were sent in support of the initiative, a 10-percent increase from the previous year. It’s a small but effective way to promote your participation.
If you’re limited on time and resources, you can focus on one activity and execute well. Be a good neighbor and see if your local businesses want to join forces, too -- traffic drives traffic and you’ll have more fun in the process.