In 2013, customers in the US spent $5.7bn (£3.6bn) with independent retailers on Small Business Saturday. In the UK, small companies earned £460m, and that figure is expected to significantly rise this year. It's the biggest day worldwide for small businesses, so make sure you don't miss out!
1. Increase marketing
If yours is a small business, make sure everyone knows about it and what you do or sell.
Any kind of promotion you can build up in the week before Small Business Saturday will be absolutely invaluable. The most effective way of doing this is to intrigue media outlets enough that they will want to write about your business. The trade press, as well as various news organisations, will be on the lookout for Small Business Saturday-related stories to write about, so consider the different ways you can make your business stand out through quirky and captivating marketing and promotions. For more about promoting your business through social media, see point 2.
Another way that you can use maximise sales on Small Business Saturday and beyond is to get your customers onto a loyalty system. You may not have a loyalty program yet, and that's fine, but this event is the perfect time for you to establish one. Encourage your customers, old and new, to sign up with their details when they visit your site in the days before Small Business Saturday by offering them incentives and benefits on the 6th December, with further motives explicitly planned for the future to encourage repeat business. If you already run a similar program then make sure you reward your existing customers for supporting you on the big day.
We have a lot more marketing advice in our post: How to promote your online store: the ultimate guide to getting traffic and generating sales
2. Get socialising!
To get word out, you'll need to really boost your output. For help with this, you can download the Small Business Saturday social media guide, which is packed full of tips on how to make the most of social media when marketing your business. It also includes posters you can use for promotion as well as templates for various emails and social media posts.
Here are a few of our own tips:
- When you're tweeting, use the #SmallBusinessSaturday or #SmallBizSatUK hashtags to get more people noticing your business, and to chat with other small business owners. This is a terrific way of networking with anyone that is interested in the event.
- Improve your social content by showing your customers how you’re actively preparing for the event in the run-up to it. If you have the time to write a blog post updating your audience on your involvement in Small Business Saturday, do that. If you don't, then upload images or short videos of your preparations to your social media accounts (6 second Vine videos can be embedded into tweets).
- Send a newsletter/bulletin out to anyone that is signed up to your mailing list. If they're fully aware that you're partaking in the event, they're likely to visit your site on the 6th December.
3. Run a competition
This is yet another way that you can use social media marketing to get fully prepared for Small Business Saturday. If you're sure to publicise your competition as relating to the event, then this will help gain traffic to your site on the day. You could also announce the winner of the competition on the 6th December, telling all entrants that the announcement will appear on your homepage. This is another simple way to ensure that all competition entrants are actually visiting your site and seeing what you have to offer.
If you really want to ramp up marketing for Small Business Saturday, you can even make the prize related to the event. For example, it could be a £30 voucher to spend exclusively on the 6th December. Those that didn't win could still buy some of your products to settle their disappointment!
4. Strengthen your customer service
Businesses that are helpful, friendly and provide great service build a reputation that far exceeds any discount code. More than discount-hunting robots, your customers are real people that want to communicate with other real people. If they remember that your service was efficient, warm and personalised, the impact on your repeat orders after Small Business Saturday will be colossal.
One way to become a memorable business (for all the right reasons) is to talk to customers - really talk to them. Humanise your brand, don't let it seem spiritless; Small Business Saturday is no time to hold back on personality. As a small business, the fact that you can communicate one-to-one with customers and form a dialogue with them should be one of your strengths, so make sure you ask for honest feedback about their experience while shopping with you and discuss your brand with them. This helps you better understand your customer base in the long run, while also making the customer feel valued and making repeat orders more likely.
5. Consider a pop-up
If you don't have a brick-and-mortar store, Small Business Saturday could be the time to open one up for the day! Take a look at We Are Pop Up, who let you search for spaces that tenants have made available for pop-ups, from tables to rails to entire shops being charged at a very reasonable fee for the day.
A main benefit to opening up a pop-up on Small Business Saturday is that you can meet your customers and communicate with them on a much more direct and personal level. You may have a few existing customers of your online shop come in, but for the most part you will be opening your business up to a lot of new customers, so there will be plenty of opportunities for marketing your e-commerce site!
Once you are set up in your pop-up space, make sure you take lots of photos and videos and upload them to the various social media spheres (with appropriate hashtags) to ensure everyone is aware of your presence.
It's worth reaffirming the relationship between your temporary pop-up and your permanent online store to your customers. If they like your products, be sure to tell them that you have an online presence. Don't let them walk away disappointed thinking that your products were just a one-off experience!
Small Business Saturday is only a week or two before the peak time for Christmas shopping, so make sure you keep your sales going and retain engagement with your customers until that vital point. The 5 ideas listed above are just a start; Small Business Saturday is is a time for innovation - so be creative!