Fall 2012
Small Business Saturday = Super Sales! By Patricia Norins

Leverage the power of Small Business Saturday to really increase your profits this year. Here are ten tips to get you started.

A national initiative, Small Business Saturday encourages customers to shop and support local community businesses, on the day after Black Friday. Considered a movement by many, Small Business Saturday helps retailers increase traffic – and sales – to stores during the peak holiday shopping season.

In previous years, SBS received unprecedented national media exposure through hundreds of newspaper articles, television and radio spots. In addition, American Express launched a far-reaching national advertising campaign further increasing consumer awareness of this special day. As a result, last year’s SBS saw an estimated 103 million consumers shopping their community’s local businesses. Business owners registered an average increase of 23% same-day store sales from the prior year.

Save the date! This year, SBS falls on November 24. Here are 10 simple and actionable steps you can take to profit from Small Business Saturday this year:

1. Offer special deal and discounts. Offer a special (and exclusive) discount to customers only for Small Business Saturday as a way to increase store traffic. You might also consider discounting certain holiday product lines, and offering varying levels of discounts. Increase the average sales per customer by offering free shipping or extra discounts to customers who spend $50 or more.

2. Utilize the power of social media. At least three weeks in advance, start promoting your SBS participation via Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to mention any special deals and events you will be offering. Encourage American Express cardholders to register their cards to receive a $25 statement credit when they “shop small” on November 24. You might also announce special hourly deals on the day of SBS exclusively through your social media pages. Tell customers that the only way to redeem the special offer is by mentioning a special word or phrase at checkout. This will enable you to gauge the effectiveness of your social media promotions and reward loyal followers.

3. Post in-store signage. Download Small Business Saturday marketing materials – including logos and signage – free of charge from the SBS Facebook page. Display Small Business Saturday signage in your store at least four weeks in advance. You can also incorporate any special events that you will be hosting on SBS into your store signage.

4. Distribute printed marketing materials. Start including informational fliers in shoppers’ bags at least four weeks prior to SBS. Be sure to include the following information on each fler: a brief description of what SBS is, specifics on how your store will be participating and your store hours on that day.

5. Plan special events on the day. Host hourly events that are fun and festive: A visit from Santa, carolers, food sampling stations, or fun holiday workshops for kids such as gingerbread house-decorating, are all great ideas. Staff your store accordingly so you’re not consumed by these events and have enough time (and energy) for customers.

6. Promote your participation via email marketing. Email your customers and remind them to stop by the store on Small Business Saturday. Let them know about your store’s holiday events and use email marketing as a tool to remind customers that when they shop small they are helping their dollars feed the local economy.

7. Partner with your local Chamber of Commerce or Downtown Association. Last year, many Chambers of Commerce and Downtown Associations around the country got involved in SBS by hosting additional festivities within the community to celebrate and recognize independent businesses. Collaborate with your local association to implement ideas that will further your message’s reach.

8. Reach out to local media. Send a press release to your local newspapers, radio and television stations announcing your SBS participation. Encourage them to interview you and your customers about SBS.

9. Incorporate cause marketing. Consider donating a percentage of profits from the day to a local charity such as a food pantry or animal shelter. This gives you another great marketing message to communicate to your customers. Even better, you will be paying it forward by further helping your community.

10. Collaborate with other participating independent retailers in your community. It’s helpful for a group of merchants to band together. You can consider putting together some additional festivities such as activities outside the store, or encourage customers to go from store to store to sample holiday cookies, or pick up a free gift at each participating store.

Patricia Norins

Norins is the founder and publisher of two national trade magazines and two trade shows. Specialty Retail Report, the voice of the specialty retail industry (carts, kiosks and temporary in-line stores) has a readership of more than 75,000 and GIFT SHOP, the magazine for independent gift shop owners, has a readership of more than 60,000. She also serves as consultant to small independent retailers across the country.

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