We’re all familiar with Small Business Saturday, the national holiday that occurs on the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year and drives revenue and customer interest across small businesses of many industries. The day was founded in 2010 by American Express amidst a recession to encourage people to shop small and bring in more holiday shopping revenue for small businesses. In 2018, on its eighth anniversary, the holiday was on track to reach an astounding $3 billion in online sales, its highest number yet.
Today, keeping a small business open is harder than ever. Confining our efforts to boost sales and customer interest to one holiday simply isn’t enough to sustain growth. With the right planning and business practices in place, small businesses can leverage Small Business Saturday as a jumping-off point to better manage and engage with prospects throughout the year. Here are a few tactics for small business leaders to continue celebrating Small Business Saturday long after the holiday has come and gone.
Build community in-store and at events
One reason why Small Business Saturday sees continued success is due to the strong community and “teamwork” it creates to support our favorite shops. To keep this mentality strong throughout the year, find simple ways to develop a sense of community. An easy way to do this is through in-store guest books, where customers can sign their names and you can capture emails and send promotions to these customers later. Another option is to host a focus group with some of your brand’s most loyal customers. Not only will you gather valuable insights into their shopping preferences, but you can offer an intimate shopping experience or promotional sale afterward to thank those customers for their time.
A key component to building a community is prioritizing in-person interactions with customers whenever possible. This means both staying attentive to potential buyers in-store and attending external events to meet new prospective customers. Research shows customers still prefer talking to a human being over a digital customer service representative, and yet many businesses have shifted over to customer service through online communication forms like email, texts, mobile video chatting and blogging. To preserve a tight-knit, community feeling, go back to basics — spend time on 1-to-1 conversations with people interested in learning more about your business.
Push social campaigns like #ShopSmall
Social media campaigns like #ShopSmall should not be relegated to a single day. Small businesses should commit to the celebration all year round by leveraging their social media platforms to make noise.
Allocating part of your budget toward paid efforts is critical to making an impact, generating leads and upping your social following. Small businesses can offer promotions, sweepstakes, and timely, relevant content to push prospective buyers further down the funnel. In fact, 61% of social followers said that posts offering discounts could encourage them to make the first purchase. It’s critical for leaders to recognize that in order to make money, you have to spend it — so ensure you have a solid budget allocated to social so you can commit to making progress.
And be sure to jump on the number of “hashtag holidays” like #ShopSmall that exist throughout the year. There’s a holiday for everything that brands can associate themselves with and drum up social interest. Check out this guide to determine which hashtags resonate with your audience.
Get creative with promotion themes
Amazon Prime Day, the annual, global shopping holiday dedicated to Prime subscribers, features impressive deals and product launches that get customers excited about browsing the platform and buying. This year, Fortune reported that Amazon’s 2019 Prime Day outsold its 2018 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales — demonstrating the power of a brand-created holiday to spread the word and drive sales.
Think about marketing promotion days you could create for your own business that drum up excitement. Sometimes, the best ideas are those that come out of left field, so stay open to spontaneity when brainstorming and don’t be afraid to test ideas on smaller scales to see what works.
Collaboration is key
To make bigger waves in marketing campaigns following the holiday, consider collaboration with a larger company. Co-marketing opportunities can provide larger businesses the opportunity to tap into niche markets while generously sharing brand equity with smaller companies.
As USA Today reports, e-commerce brands can also benefit from partnering with brick-and-mortar stores, so that their employees have the option to actually meet and talk with customers in person. Having good partnerships, no matter the time of year gives small businesses the power to do more and spread their brand persona across different channels.
The Small Business Saturday movement will always be a critical one for small businesses looking to retain and get new customers, but there’s no reason why you can’t use these strategies during the rest of the year. By creating your own versions of #ShopSmall, you can spread the word about the importance of supporting local shops and garner support from local communities and partners.