Small Business Saturday Tips from Small Business Owners

Now entering its fifth year, Small Business Saturday (November 29) encourages people to support local businesses during the busiest shopping season of the year. It’s estimated that in 2013 people spent $5.7 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday.

We spoke with four veteran Small Business Saturday participants to learn how they get the most out of the event. Here are their tips.

Form a community

All four of the businesses we spoke with mentioned working with other local businesses to make the event community-wide, rather than store-wide.

Lisa LeFevre of Distinctive Gardens in Dixon, Illinois, says she created a local “shop small” community to meet and collaborate with other small business owners in the area. Together the community plans events for Small Business Saturday and cross-promotes each business’s messages with the larger “shop small” message. Kristen King, online sales and social media manager at Allens Boots in Austin, Texas, encourages small business to think of the day as a neighborhood event. King and her team learn what’s going on at other stores and restaurants in the neighborhood, so they can make recommendations to customers on where to go next.

“Talk to your neighbors and make a collaborative plan that benefits everyone,” says Kristen.

Tell your story

Brick and mortar shopping connects people to businesses in a personal way. To connect your community to your business before they even step foot into your store, start a Small Business Saturday campaign that tells stories about your business.

Jim Donio helps run Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, New Jersey. He and his team of actors and videographers are producing a short video for Small Business Saturday campaigns telling the story of how their business fits into the larger community.

“We’ve found with both Facebook and Instagram that we can tell the behind-the-scenes story to let people in on the magic and process of creating live theater,” says Jim.

Offer an experience

All four businesses we spoke with had plans to make Small Business Saturday a special day in their stores. The Distinctive Gardens crew is bringing in

a local artist to show off her work, while Julie Kuppart at Dream Baskets will serve appetizers and host giveaways in the store. Eagle Theatre will offer a discount on their season pass to people that visit on Small Business Saturday.

The staff at Allens Boots noticed that shoppers consistently took pictures in the same few places in their store: in front of the first row cowboy boots at the front of the store, by the longhorn wall hanging, and in the cowboy hat section. So the staff added signs encouraging customers to share the pictures and connect with the store on Facebook and Instagram. The lesson here is to make it fun to shop small.

Get the word out

Once you have a Small Business Saturday plan, let people know you’re participating. The small businesses we talked to reached out to customers via email, newsletters and Facebook Page posts and ads, using age, region and gender targeting. Julie even sends handwritten notes and places phone calls inviting her best customers to come into the store.

Our new Local Awareness ads are also a great way to reach people near your business. People will only see your ad when they’re near your location, and you can give people directions to your business right on their phones.

Prep your sales staff

Small Business Saturday is both an event and a movement to spread awareness about how local shopping helps communities thrive. Kristen says the Allens Boot staff gets briefed a few days before on the offers going on in the store and the promotions for the event, so they can be guides for their customers.

Say thank you

There’s nothing as valuable as a face-to-face conversation with a customer, so thank yours for their support. Distinctive Gardens will take that one step further this year and hand out gift bags with cookies in them to thank their customers for visiting, but no matter how you choose to say thank you, be sure you do.

If you’re interested in participating in Small Business Saturday, learn more.

Category: Small business

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