Are you the owner of a small business? Would you love to boost revenue and increase your visibility with customers?

Small Business Saturday is the ideal event for doing just that. Here’s everything you need to know about this shopping holiday, which falls on the heels of Thanksgiving. 

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday takes place every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It’s a shopping holiday that puts the emphasis on small businesses rather than big box stores or online retailers. 

Since its birth in 2010, Small Business Saturday has been a wonderful success, and the concept has spread across the pond to the UK. The holiday began in Boston and was created by American Express.

The event was intended to help small businesses rebound from the recession of 2008. A national radio and television campaign, plus social media promotion, helped the event take off. It’s been going strong ever since. 

Why is Small Business Saturday important for your business?

If your business has struggled to compete on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is perfect for you!

While the other shopping holidays focus on volume and mass savings, Small Business Saturday gives you the opportunity to reach consumers in your own community. These are people who are eager to support local businesses and get away from the crush of traditional holiday shopping. 

You don’t even have to offer a holiday product to make Small Business Saturday work for you. The idea is to open Main Street to area consumers, so it’s tailor-made for everything from restaurants to service businesses.

By advertising your business in advance of the holiday, you can bring in more foot traffic. Even local charities get in on the action.

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, last year’s Small Business Saturday resulted in nearly $18 billion in spending by 104 million shoppers. Wouldn’t you love a piece of that pie? 

How can you make Small Business Saturday a raving success?

There are many ways to take advantage of Small Business Saturday to boost your business’s profits. The key is to start early with tips you can use immediately so you’re organized when the big day arrives. 

Take advantage of online resources

Small Business Saturday got its first infusion of energy from online promotion, and that’s still one of the best ways to market your business.

The event has an official Facebook page, which is a terrific place to read inspirational stories from all kinds of businesses. The page also links to valuable resources that can help you with the holiday. 

American Express offers customizable marketing materials on their website. You can create signs, email templates, posters, and more to let the world know you’re part of the holiday. 

Start talking up Small Business Saturday right now on social media to generate excitement with your customers. Use photos showing your preparation or what makes you unique. Remember, you want to get feet in the door on November 30th. 

Don’t forget to use hashtags like #SmallBusinessSaturday or #DineSmall so your messages show up in searches. Also, don’t be shy about sharing other business’s posts and responding to their tweets or pics. The original Small Business Saturday was so successful in part because participants talked about each other’s marketing. 

On the day of the event, encourage customers to use check-ins via sites like Yelp, Facebook, and FourSquare. A recent Nielsen advertising study showed that 83% of people trust the recommendations of friends and family. Consider offering a small discount or door prize when people share where they are shopping or dining. 

Join forces with other local merchants

Working together with neighboring merchants can be even more effective than joining up online. Look around your location. Who could you partner with to increase foot traffic? 

For example, if you own a clothing store, you can encourage shoppers to stop next door at the local cafe to relax after their purchases. Or invite area musicians to play live music at your restaurant to help them book weddings later in the year. 

You may want to get your entire block or shopping center to join forces for a festive atmosphere. The more you can provide everything in one location for busy weary shoppers, the more satisfied they’ll be. 

Prepare for an influx of traffic

If you’ve done your marketing right, you’ll have great traffic on Small Business Saturday. Is your business ready? 

Nothing angers excited customers more than problems with payment processing. Now is the time, before the holiday on November 30th, to beef up your payment processing system and make sure it’s up to the demands of the holiday season. 

If you’re not happy with your payment processor, make a switch now. Otherwise, you’ll be drowning in irritated customers with declined credit cards or slow sales at the cashier. Take this opportunity to double and triple check your data security as well so your customers know their information is safe with you. 

Whether you will be accepting payments online or directing customers to your location, is your website up to snuff? Again, this is the time, before you become too busy, to test the loading time and ensure the copy and images are perfect. Make your site is mobile friendly for customers on the go. Don’t forget to add a banner or notice on your homepage about Small Business Saturday!

You’ll want to make sure you have the staff on hand to deal with a crowd on November 30th and throughout the shopping season. Take a look at your employee schedule before Thanksgiving to fill slots where you may need extra people. If you need to hire temporary workers, get a jump on it, as staffing this time of year can be competitive. 

Keep in mind that holiday shoppers’ daily calendars are often stretched to their limit. You can make their lives easier by extending your business hours. Kick off your holiday hours on Small Business Saturday to give customers a breather. 

Is all this preparation overwhelming? Are you short on resources until holiday sales start coming in? There is a solution for you: a merchant cash advance (MCA). An MCA gives you cash now, in return for a small portion of your credit card sales in the future. This is often a more viable option for small businesses than a bank loan. 

Emphasize personal service

One of the hallmarks of Small Business Saturday is the personal service customers receive at local businesses. This attentiveness is often missing at big box stores and online retailers. To help your business take advantage of it, spend time now with your employees to review your service. 

You may want to hold a few staff training reviews or even bring in an outside consultant to give a white-glove touch to your service. Customers will remember how special they felt at your business and return again for that experience. 

Carry momentum forward

Finally, Small Business Saturday is about more than making money on one day of the year. You want to leverage the momentum you created on November 30th throughout the year. Think about ways you can keep customers coming back with attractions like: 

  • Holiday community cheer campaigns
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Gift card promotions
  • Year-round fun events
  • Quarterly sales for members only
  • VIP parking

Once you start thinking about what worked on Small Business Saturday, you can carry that with you to New Year’s and beyond.

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