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Almost every retailer is familiar with the force that is “Small Business Saturday.” Originally developed in 2010 by American Express (which offers many of its own Small Business Saturday promotion ideas), it has grown to be a phenomenon that links small businesses in their desire to stand out from Big Box stores and offer a more locally focused, intimate shopping experience.
The event has friends in high places – notably, President and Mrs. Obama who are always staunch supporters.
Let’s face it, though, it can be hard to stand out when you’re competing with large retailers that are putting big marketing chops behind their efforts. But since almost half of shoppers make their purchase decisions while in a store, it’s vital to attract them.
Here are some Small Business Saturday promotion ideas to help you drive traffic to your store. These tips are also fantastic when selling wholesale to small
Use your social media.
The right social platform can be your best tactic for engaging your local audience, driving traffic and creating brand ambassadors. Whether your platform of choice is Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat (which is growing in importance for businesses catering to a younger demographic — more on that below), make sure you are active in the days leading up to Small Business Saturday.
Make sure your existing followers know what you have planned and ask them to share it with their friends and family. Use Twitter relevant hashtags and be sure to include #SmallBizSat” and tag @ShopSmall,” which is American Express’ official Twitter and Instagram handle. Also, consider posting a shout out directly to those accounts as they might share your post with their huge community of followers. Ask your customers via signage and direct calls to action to “Check In” on Facebook and tag their friends. Here’s an overview of how easy it is to “Check In” using the Facebook App.
According to Snapchat’s research, the app reaches 41% of all 18 to 34 year olds on any given day. That’s huge. And it has a creative program you might want to look into, called “geofilters,” which business owners can create that’s specific to your store or event. Surprisingly affordable and imminently local, it’s a great option to consider to set yourself apart.
There’s strength in numbers, and many retailers find success in creating an event with nearby stores. Even if you haven’t put weeks into planning it, you can easily put together a cooperative effort where you create a small map of retailers in your area and print them up to have at each counter or provide via an online map on your respective sites. You also can commit to retweeting and sharing each other’s content. If you are a member of the Chamber of Commerce, see if there is a local effort underway already – many towns have them – but if not, take some time to talk to other business on your street to see what you can do to create some synergy. Spending a couple of hours creating a cohesive marketing plan can pay off in driving traffic by shoppers who want to hit more than one shop at a time.
Create special offers.
Offers can drive traffic: 78% of respondents in a Deloitte survey said they were influenced by coupons/promotional offers. However, don’t feel you have to compete with the Big Box retailers that might be giving away their merchandise. Remember that you offer something they don’t, which is personalized service and unique, carefully chosen products. A modest price reduction or a gift with purchase offer can be a smart way to drive traffic, but you don’t want to give away all your profits.
Service, service, service.
If you can’t compete on price, you have to compete on your strengths, which are service and a unique product mix. Make sure your store is well-staffed and that you have associates who know your products well, including the stories behind them. Be helpful but not overbearing as guests come in the door. You want to provide the personalized service that combats the anonymity and coldness of a big store, but without hovering. And also focus on solving your customers’ challenges. Have tables of gifts you’ve selected that can help them with their hard-to-shop for relatives and friends. Create “bundles” of popular gifts at different price points. Help them choose just the right scarf to go with a blouse. And, offer gift wrapping to help complete the sale and send them off feeling pleased that they are finished.
Promote the local factor.
If you are an artisan supplying products to a small store, offer to show up on Small Business Saturday to answer questions and supply that local “face” that can help differentiate a small retailer from its mall-based counterparts. That personal touch can be a win-win for you, as you share your story and help create super fans among shoppers, and for the store which can have something extra and unique to offer, as well as something else to promote on their social media feeds.
I’d love to hear your Small Business Saturday promotion ideas below! And if you’d like a quick assessment of what you have planned, do reach out (1-858-859-1411 or email me today at firstname.lastname@example.org). I can also help you with your social media or other marketing plans to help drive traffic and sales, and create your best year, yet.