The holiday shopping season is the retail industry's busiest time of year. However, not all holiday shopping is done at big box stores: Small business owners also anticipate this time of year as bringing in serious revenue. Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26, 2016) encourages consumers to shop local, and is a great opportunity to the small retailers to increase their profits for the year.
Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is an annual shopping day supporting the independently owned businesses that help create jobs and help make local economies thrive. According to a press release, small businesses will be offered new resources for a successful holiday shopping season.
"Our ultimate goal is to help small businesses do more business — and for Small Business Saturday, that includes arming them with the tools to help make the day a success," said Amy Marino, vice president and head of Small Business Saturday at American Express.
Among the new tools being rolled out this holiday season by American Express are free business boot camps, online "SBS 101" education content, and customizable print and digital signage for this year, which marks the seventh-annual Small Business Saturday. Items such as event flyers, posters, save the dates, and social media assets will be available for business owners to customize and download for free to promote their business.
The SBS 101 content will include a multi-media hub featuring how-to guides, and tips and insights from small business owners and influencers. This tool is designed to educate, prepare, and inspire small business owners to participate in Small Business Saturday.
Tips for Small Business Saturday success
As you prepare your business for the holiday shopping season, here are some tips for small business owners to make this Small Business Saturday a success.
Treat it as the beginning of your year. The start of the calendar year is a hectic time for all small businesses, so use Small Business Saturday as an early opportunity to assess the state of your business, said Jen Cohen Crompton, entrepreneur-in-residence at The Neat Company. Do you need to make a new hire for seasonal help? Is there new technology that you can implement to streamline specific business workflows? Use Small Business Saturday to take a holistic view of your business operations, she said.
Stock up on potentially popular items. The last thing you'll want is to run out of your most popular merchandise before the season is over. That's why it's critical to understand your product or service demands during the holiday season, said David Gilbert, CEO of small business lender National Funding. Plan strategically in advance, he said, and stock up on popular items.
Offer special discounts and offers. LIke Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is a great day to offer special deals to entice customers. A recent survey by Infusionsoft and Pollfish.com found that the most popular Small Business Saturday promotions in 2015 were limited time offers (24 percent), free gift offers (21 percent), coupon discounts (20 percent) and buy one, get one free offers (19 percent).
Run a service business? Cohen Crompton advised offering special discounts for Small Business Saturday. Whether you're an electrician offering the best light bulbs on the market for free with every new light fixture installation, or an accountant offering a ten percent discount for work booked the week leading up to the holiday, you can use this day to drive customers to your business.
Re-invest in your social media. Many potential customers start their search for a certain product or service with Google, which often leads to a business's Twitter or Facebook account. But too often, social media sites are the first things neglected when day-to-day business operations get busy, Cohen Crompton said. Small businesses should have an established social media and online presence, she said, so use Small Business Saturday and update your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other social network you use to better communicate with customers.
Boost your other marketing strategies. Aside from social media, you should also take the time to rethink your marketing strategy and increase your advertising plans, said Gilbert. He recommended that business owners create a comprehensive marketing campaign that will draw customers to their store. Infusionsoft found that the average Small Business Saturday marketing spend last year was $5,500, with respondents using a combination of digital marketing (email, website ads, paid social media, etc. – 77 percent) and offline marketing (direct mailers, TV/newspaper ads – 23 percent).
For more tips on creating a great holiday season marketing plan, visit this Business News Daily article.
Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan (Helmrich). Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.