Preparing for Small Business Saturday

Photo by  Jennifer Pallian

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and the Shop Local initiative "Small Business Saturday" started by American Express, is a couple days after that—November, 25th.  Tucked neatly between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is going on its 7th year now, it has proven to encourage more and more customers to skip the online shopping and support local shops nearby. This Small Business Saturday is expected to be the biggest one yet, expecting over 100+ million customers shopping locally. 

Being involved in Small Business Saturday isn't just being open on November, 25th—you need to have a marketing plan, events, promotions etc.


Get Connected

No matter what the promotion is the way to be successful is to involve the business community around you. Get your neighboring businesses involved. This will entice more customers to come to your area, because if they can go to an area and get clothes, accessories, chocolates, lunch and more they are more likely to spend more money and time in an area, increasing every business' chance of getting more valuable customers. You can coordinate with your business neighbors using Weird Street—a private communication tool for businesses to discuss issues with the business neighbors in their area.


Getting Materials

American Express has promotional materials that work with the infrastructure they've set up for their customers to receive points and rewards for shopping at local participating businesses. These materials are downloadable online and you can use them for printing on pamphlets and sharing on social media. 

You can also create your own promotional materials this will show more personality and what makes your business and community amazing.

If your business accepts American Express, you can also be included on the Shop Small Map. (An online directory within the Shop Small Map lists qualifying small businesses that only accept online transactions or those that do not have a physical business location.) Additionally, American Express will promote your business, and your Small Business Saturday sales and events, on the Shop Small website as well as with online advertising programs running on popular sites across the Internet.


Get your website ready

This is a simple thing that can really help potential customers. Make sure your address, contact info, and hours of operation are correct on your website and make sure all your social media profiles also have the correct information and are connected to your website. This is also a great opportunity to review your site through the eyes of your customer, ensuring that all promotions are displayed and that your payment process is working properly.

Consider optimizing for mobile—78 percent of mobile searches seeking information on local businesses result in a purchase. With that said, make sure your website is mobile-friendly so Saturday’s shoppers who can’t make it to the actual store are able to buy your products on their smartphone.

Photo by  Heidi Sandstrom.


Extend Your Hours

If your community is planning an event for Small Businesses Saturday (which we hope you are) one great idea would be to extend your operation hours by an hour or so to get more customers through the door. If you change your hours don't to tell your customers on social media and on your website.


Good Customer Service Goes a Long Way

Humans love talking and being around other humans. Connecting with customers and create a great atmosphere and personalized experiences can help your business stand out in a customers mind. According to a 2016 study, although people continue to shop online—there is no comparison to a great in-store experience.

This could be a great opportunity to think through processes and scenarios where if it gets really busy, how you can organize the layout of your shop to keep lines out of the way of shoppers and allow a more fluid shopping experience.


Promotions & Incentives

Give customers a reason to come to your store. This is a general rule to operating a successful business, but think about how you can take it up a notch and reach those shoppers who are also being attracted to other businesses. Consider in-store and community incentives, such as raffles, discounts, special seasonal items, etc.  


Saturday & Beyond

While Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to attract new customers, the key is to get customers to love your business and come back over and over again. So think about how you can keep your successes going through the next few months.