10 Tips for a Successful Small Business Saturday & Beyond

Small Business Saturday is November 29th this year, how are you prepping? Remember it’s not just about the day or the holidays, but also about spreading the word about your business. Use the ten tips below to complement your #SmallBizSaturday strategy; don’t forget to connect with us for our 15 days of small business tips sent daily. About Small Business Saturday from American Express: http://amex.co/1v4eUan

  1. Create a Strategy. Take a look at your overall goals and then narrow down your goals for small business Saturday. Your plan can be as simple as, “I want to achieve a higher rate of foot traffic. I set a goal of 2x the amount of my normal daily sales amount of ($X) from foot traffic alone. I plan to offer convenience and personalized shopping to incoming customers. I will provide free coffee outside my business, a ready shopper staff member for customers that want holiday suggestions, bundled gift options and free gift wrap with purchase. I will use my email contacts, website, and social media to get the word out.” You then cover what you want to achieve, how you will measure, what your message is, what channels you will use to communicate, and how you will execute your message.

  2. Invite: Before thinking about new customers, focus on your existing customers. Get your email invite out to your current subscribers engaging them to shop local at your business on 11/29, if you haven’t already. Remember to format the message for your home page and corresponding social channels. Remind your neighbors about your business. You might find a potential partnership opportunity for a sidewalk sale or in-store event. If you’re feeling ambitious you can help rally support for a street or block wide event! Don’t forget to mention the big day and any special offers to your customers shopping now to create anticipation.

  3. Create an Offer or Incentive: If appropriate for you, pull together a special offer or incentive for customers to buy from you on Small Business Saturday. Most importantly, make sure your business can deliver on the offer. A great article on creating a last minute strategy from Constant Contact suggests being very specific for example, offering 15% off all new items, free coffee and cookies for guests while they shop, free gift over a purchase of $50, or free wrapping. If it’s a finite number of a giveaway item, be sure to say for example “for the first 100 shoppers” or “while supplies last.” If it’s a special contest, make sure to have customers fill out an entry form so you can keep in touch in
    your follow up marketing. Last minute strategy guide: http://conta.cc/1uJTu0X

  4. Promote: Three tools to help promote: 1) Constant Contact toolkit contains worksheets for creating a campaign. http://conta.cc/1yGkxcv 2) The American Express Shop Small site has free tools including signage and postcard templates for your business as well as a banner for your website (terms apply). http://amex.co/1p0v2Yv 3) Visit your local SBDC. We can help you create a promotion plan 1:1 for your business. 1-866-588-SBDC. Make sure to snap pictures throughout the big day and post to social channels.

  5. Gather your Resources: Now that you have your offer and/or message, the Shop Small partners also offer many useful and often free resources to help you spread the word. Don’t forget to review the terms of the offers. Great resources from free poster printing with FedEx to free online ads on Yelp as well as Bing (terms apply). Review the offers that are best suited for your goals and business. More here: http://amex.co/1uJTKNw

  6. Reach out to Local Media: Some small business owners not only decide to start or run their business in the same area they live, but also have incredible stories to share – all of which appeal to local media. Try sending a press release to local media with a grabbing tagline for example, “Local Santa Monica Resident Opens Small Shop, But Thinks Big on Small Business Saturday.” Send the story behind how you started your business, how long you’ve lived in the area, any special offers for the day and invite media to interview your customers on the big day. Press release template and guide: http://bit.ly/1yTjVjA

  7. Bundle: As @RhondaAbrams shares in her #holidaysuccess guide; bundles often solve holiday dilemmas and lend to higher transaction amounts when the right gifts are wrapped together. Consider pre-wrapping products by theme for “him” or “her,” display bundles together, bundle a service and product, pre-wrap gift cards with your catalog or restaurant menu, or consider gift baskets at different price points. More tips from Rhonda’s guide: http://bit.ly/1yffxv1

  8. Upsell: In two ways: 1) Increase the present transaction size by asking, “Would you like to add X to your purchase?” or “Did you get a chance to see X? It goes well with Y.” 2) Make it easier for your customers to spend more often by keeping them in the know about your business. It’s as easy as asking at the end of a transaction, “Would you like to be added to our special offers email list? It is sent out X a mo/week/.”If you’re using a tablet in store, make it easy for customers to check a box to be added to your email list or consider offering a small discount on a future purchase if they sign up. Tips on upselling from @infusionsoft http://bit.ly/1xq03Xk

  9. Staff: First and foremost, review your projected sales for the holidays and assess whether you can hire seasonal staff. If so, remind your staff that they are part of the shopping small experience, to say “thank you” to customers, and to upsell. If you’re thinking about offering free wrapping or beverages make sure you assign your employees duties on the onset of the big weekend to assure “stations” are always staffed or stocked. Lastly, in the event of unforeseen circumstances, you may want to consider having “on-call” staff members or advising family or friends you may need their help.

  10. Review and Follow Up: After the day is over, make a note of some aspects you would improve in the future and ask your staff or customers their thoughts too. This will help not only replicate actions that worked for next year, but also help your ongoing marketing efforts. Did you reach your goal of 2x your normal sales from foot traffic alone? Did your customers enjoy shopping with you and receive value from your offers? Lastly, follow up with a simple “Thank you” email or note showing appreciation for visiting and anticipation for seeing the customer again soon. Consider including shots from the day and/or including one or two upcoming offers in your email or note.