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how to prepare for small business saturdayThe biggest shopping season of the year is fast approaching and you need to prepare for Small Business Saturday.

Small business owners have a lot on their plates.  We’ve got plenty of items on our to-do lists to make sure customers sign up for our e-mails, follow us on social platforms, download our mobile apps, and shop from us when they’re buying gifts for others.

The most important thing you can do is start preparing your business and marketing strategies for Small Business Saturday. Advanced preparation is going to make your life a lot easier and your businesses run more smoothly.

The preparation you put in now will also benefit your business by capitalizing on the other special season shopping events; Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and two recent arrivals; Giving Tuesday and Green Monday.  

Giving Tuesday falls on Tuesday following Cyber Monday.  it is a good way for consumers to give back after the surge of buying for friends and family.

Green Monday is another e-commerce date and falls on the second Monday of December.  This generally marks the last date that an order can be standard shipped in time for Christmas.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country.

Founded by American Express in 2010, this day is celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday has succeeded even while sandwiched between two of the biggest holiday retail days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting local small businesses This year it is Saturday, November 26, 2016.

Created by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is the cornerstone of American Express Shop Small efforts.  While Small Business Saturday is highlighted as a special day when we can show our support as a nation for small business owners and our communities, the Shop Small Movement is a year-round nationwide campaign to celebrate and support small businesses every day.and to help local communities thrive.

Participation in Small Business Saturday can be a boon to your business, not only because of what it offers you financially, but how it can connect your business with the community.

Small Business Saturday receives a lot of media support, with celebrities such as the President of the United States publicly promoting the day each year.

This is why it is so important for small business owners to prepare for the events taking place this holiday season and take advantage of every tool and resource that is available to them. 

Small Business Saturday –  Bricks and Click

The most efficient and economical way to prepare is to combine your brick and mortar efforts with your online efforts. This is especially true with promotional strategies and graphics.

Design and Graphics

American Express provides FREE custom downloadable marketing materials for your storefront, social networks, and website. Available here.  I’ll point out that Small Business Saturday® is a register trademark of American Express

Bring the holiday look and feel to your online presence. Just like your brick-and-mortar locations use lights, garlands, and a seasonal soundtrack to create excitement for the holidays, you can do with the same with your online store.

Decorate: Show your spirit around your town with Small Business Saturday decorations including banners and balloons.

Promotion E-mails

One of the most effective ways you can drive more sales during Small Business Saturday is by mailing your e-mails in the days and weeks leading up to the day when your sales and deals go live.  Here are some tips to include in your strategy and execution of your promotional e-mails.

  • Alert current and prospective customers that your business is also participating on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  • Educate people on the types of deals that you plan to offer during Small Business Saturday
  • Prominently feature your products
  • Your e-mails should aim to get your customers and subscribers excited about the upcoming deals you plan to offer to them
  • To create effective promotional e-mails, you need:
    • Captivating images of your products
    • Attention-grabbing subject line and headline
    • Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday-branded graphics
    • Important information about your deals and sales

Your customers are likely going to be flooded with e-mails Thanksgiving weekend, so the earlier you can engage with them through e-mail, the better.

Support a Local Charity

Another great way to drive more sales on Small Business Saturday is to show your guests that it’s not all about you and you’re not just in it for the money.

One of the best ways to do it is by partnering with a local nonprofit or charitable organization. Agreeing to donate a certain percentage of all proceeds from sales that occur on Small Business Saturday to that organization. It’s a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition  and, more importantly, it’s a great way to give back to those in need.

Once you select a local charity, just add a ‘Donate’ feature to your website & social media. You can carry over the promotion up till Giving Tuesday or execute the promotion all year round.

Give Away a Freebie

To drive more buzz about your Small Business Saturday specials, consider giving away a “freebie” product to anyone who purchases over a certain $ amount.  This tactic can help can help you build buzz on social media during the day itself

Online consumers love anything that they can get for free (free shipping, free returns, free try-before-you-buy), so make sure to feature the freebie deal prominently on your website.

Customer E-Mail Acquisition and Referrals

  • With many new customers visiting your store and website, make sure you are collecting their e-mail addresses.
  • Be sure to ask happy customers to refer their friends, family and acquaintances.

Create and Promote Product Bundles

It’s always a good idea to offer product bundles in your retail store and e-commerce store, but it can be especially effective during the Thanksgiving weekend when consumers are trying to get the best deals available from the stores and businesses.

Bundles are a marketing tactic that consists of providing the customer with multiple complementary products.   The goal of increasing the amount spent in one order.

Think of a special bundle package that you can create and launch only for one day.

The key is to make it as enticing and special as possible—i.e. something that they will not be able to get if they were to visit your shop a few weeks later. For example, you could include a limited-time only product, or offer a really attractive deal on two or more products bundled together.

The key to an effective product bundling is offer products that when used together they work better than if they were used separately.  Examples are items such as liquor and glasses, shoes and socks, computers and carrying cases. These all work well for the respective retail categories.

The idea is that by adding a few similar or complementary products together and discounting the individual products, the buyer gets a better deal than if she bought the products separately.

Create your own Holiday Gift Guide

Gift Guides can take a bit of time to create, however, you can utilize them throughout the holiday season in addition to Small Business Saturday. To maximize your efforts, the gift guide can be both a printed version and an online version.

To promote your gift guide:

  • Include a link in emails —make the guide the sole focus of one email, then include a link or small banner in subsequent emails
  • Post a link with a special graphic on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest, with relevant hashtags
  • Look into paid social media advertising, like Facebook dark posts or Promoted Pins, for your target audience.
  • If you already created a blog, write a short post about the guide, or something relevant to its content, so you can link it from there.
  • Look for promotional opportunities with blogs or websites in your industry who might be willing to link your guide.

Create a Temporary Pop-Up Shop

A pop-up shop is a short-term temporary store that is smaller, possibly portable, and offers some of your most popular items.  Usually located in the center of your towns village square, local shopping mall or in a vacant street level retail space. Check wth your local Chamber of Commerce.  Here is a complete guide from Shopify for everything “Pop-Up”.

Periscope and Facebook Live

Periscope and Facebook Live are still a relatively new mediums for most brands and businesses.

They can provide another way for you to build buzz and differentiate from competitors. You can use the live platforms to stream live video from your store.   You can communicate with your customers and followers in real-time.

Be Mobile-Ready

The final way you can drive more sales is by ensuring that your shop is mobile-friendly.  

A lot of families travel this  time of year. Going shopping in new communities means you have to be found when they search on their phone. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and the phone numbers, website and map are correct.  

Verify the information on all your social media platforms.   Also, check Yelp, Angies List and other search services to verify they too have your correct details.

If you need help in analyzing your website speed and mobile friendliness, I suggest reaching out to Dagmar Gatell for an SEO and website review.

Conclusion

Small businesses should be celebrated every day of the year.  Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity for small retailers to gain exposure, capitalize on increased sales potential, and foster a sense of community.

With the holiday’s fast approaching, start taking steps to plan your campaign.

Here’s to you building a stronger company. Good luck!

Happy Holiday’s from the Sozial Monster Team.  We are experienced enough to solve your problem, small enough for you to know you will be a valued client.

Oh, if there’s anything I’m missing in this article, tell me! I’ll be happy to add it in.

We welcome your thoughts and suggestions on this article in the comments section.

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