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10 Ways to Use Small Business Saturday to Prepare For The Holidays

 

Small Business Saturday, also known as Shop Small Saturday, has quickly become one of the biggest days of the year for America’s small businesses.

On the Saturday following Thanksgiving, over 100 million shoppers visit the nation’s independent businesses, attend neighborhood events, and celebrate the impact that local entrepreneurship has on the community.

Nestled in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is part of a long weekend that kicks off the holiday shopping season. The efforts that small businesses put in on that first Saturday can have ripple effects up until Christmas.

Small business owners should do all they can to build the association of shopping small with holiday shopping. Start with these 10 ways to prepare your business for what is hopefully a successful and lucrative holiday month.

 

Create customizable materials with the Shop Small Studio®

Small Business Saturday was started by American Express back in 2011, and since then AmEx has poured resources into strengthening the movement. You can use their Shop Small Studio®  to create customizable marketing materials, such as website badges, posters, event flyers, email templates, and more.

Use the Studio to make materials promoting your holiday sales and spirit—in both English and Spanish, if you’d like—that you can use all holiday season long.

 

Collect followers and email list subscribers

The increased excitement and foot traffic that Small Business Saturday generates may motivate more people to step into your store or visit your website to shop. Use the spirit of the day to encourage people to keep in touch with their local small business by following you on social media, or signing up for your newsletter. Capturing that information will allow you to send customers targeted and segmented messaging, such as information on local events or last-minute deals.

 

Use SBS as motivation to re-invest in customer service

One of the last true advantages that a small business has over a major big box retailer or e-commerce giant should be its customer service. On Small Business Saturday, spend extra time or resources (perhaps in the form of seasonal employees) focusing on how to provide excellent customer service to whomever visits your store.

Defining what good customer service means to you—best talking points, body language, and other skills—will help your employees execute better on Saturday and beyond.

 

Encourage your SBS shoppers to leave reviews

Crowd-sourced online review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Maps can hugely influence a consumer’s decision to choose one business over another and can drive more customers your way.

While some of these platforms discourage business owners from overtly asking for reviews, you can gently remind your influx of customers to leave you feedback by way of signage, business cards included in their purchase, and general wording like “Make sure to check us out on Yelp.” The rise in positive reviews can do wonders for your SEO efforts as well as bottom line.

 

Launch your (limited) holiday discounts

The point of Small Business Saturday isn’t to slash prices, as it is with Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Part of the movement is encouraging people to invest in their communities and vote with their dollar.

But if there’s ever a time to announce a discount, sale, or other price cut for the holidays, it’s when more eyes than ever are potentially on your business. Use the springboard of SBS to launch a limited-time deal that boosts your holiday traction.

 

Emphasize your holiday-themed SBS perks

As noted above, discounts aren’t really the point of shopping small. But you can use the day to highlight the little perks and benefits that shopping in one’s local community offers. Promote holiday-themed perks like free gift-wrapping and local delivery, or creating complimentary personalized shopping experiences. Associating your business with holiday shopping will pay dividends this season and for seasons to come.

 

Build holiday partnerships with other local businesses

Small Business Saturday may be about celebrating independent businesses, but that doesn’t mean businesses should work independently of each other that day. Join forces with other local businesses to encourage customers to move between your ventures: Slip coupons or discounts for your partners’ businesses into your customers’ bags, and have your partners do the same. Or work together to create a “gift-giving tree” to support local charities.

A rising tide raises all boats, so work to build holiday enthusiasm for all small businesses in your area, not just your own.

 

Organize a holiday-themed event that aligns with your business

Another major part of Small Business Saturday are the events that businesses, local leaders, and organizations throw in celebration of the community. Using American Express’ resources, you can spearhead an event that reflects the holiday spirit and your business’s values all at once.

The SBA has some great insight into how to throw a holiday event, including how to understand sponsorship levels and the best ways to engage with attendees.

 

Send out holiday cards using your SBS marketing materials

Liven up a direct-mail campaign with actual holiday cards to local consumers, which are more likely to get noticed, according to the SBA. Include in your card some of the materials you were able to make with the Shop Small Studio® to create synergy with your campaign, and continue to drive home the association between shopping small and doing your holiday shopping.

 

Partner with a good local cause for the holidays

It’s always good to remember that the holidays are about giving as much as they are about receiving. During your Small Business Saturday events, announce a partnership with a local charity or nonprofit: You can donate a portion of every purchase during the holidays to that cause, or offer a discount or gift card to customers who volunteer their time or donate money to that charity.

Either way, you’re living up the spirit of both Small Business Saturday and the holidays by promoting causes that are based in, and important to, the community your business calls home.

***
Shop Small Saturday may not drive the kind of massive sales that Black Friday does, but it’s still a hugely important day for small business owners everywhere. The campaigns, sales, and partnerships you start on that first post-Thanksgiving Saturday can make an impression on your customers and your community, and if you’re competing with the Amazons and Wal-marts of the world, that’s an impact you can’t afford to pass up.

Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business financial solutions. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.

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