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Small Business Saturday is November 27th. Are you ready?

Small Business Saturday®, the Saturday after Thanksgiving when holiday shoppers turn their attention away from national retailers to the nation’s small businesses, was established just over a decade ago. More notably, 70% of American consumers are now familiar with the day and 95% of them say it motivates them to shop locally more often, year-round. Taking part in the single biggest shopping day of the year for small businesses can pay big dividends, but it takes planning and forethought. Here are some tips to prepare you for a successful Small Business Saturday.

1. Identify your goals.

Obviously, you want your investment in Small Business Saturday to increase revenue, but is that your only goal? Perhaps you would also like to use the occasion to introduce a new product or service. Some businesses might want to focus on upselling current customers. Others might wish to expand their customer base by targeting a new demographic or introducing programs that encourage repeat business. Once you’ve defined your goals, you’ll be in a better position to plan your next steps.

2. Develop a strategy.

Do you want to organize your own Small Business Saturday events or piggyback on those already planned in your community? Is your focus on a brick-and-mortar business, an online store or some combination of the two? Is this a one-day event or part of a larger business strategy? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Your responses should lead you to the approach that makes the most sense for your business and marketing budget.

3. Determine how you’ll measure success.

Small Business Saturday is an annual event. That’s why tracking your results is critical. By tracking your results against your investments, you can learn lessons you can apply next year or at other promotional events. It could be as simple as tracking individual product sales or online engagement. If online sales are important, you might consider your online shopping cart abandonment rate. While the pandemic continues, you may be more interested in tracking average sale size rather than measuring in-store foot traffic.

4. Plan your marketing.

Your marketing and promotional dollars are finite, so look for opportunities to stretch them. By coordinating with neighboring businesses, chambers of commerce or other associations, you may be able to organize larger events and cross-sell through, or with, them. For example, shopping passports that can be stamped by individual retailers can help incentivize shoppers to try new venues and take advantage of special offers when they are in your area. Even if you choose not to collaborate, businesses can brainstorm ideas, avoid duplication and compare results ─ all of which can prove helpful.

Social media is an inexpensive way to spread your messages. Use both your own pages as well as community and small business pages on Facebook and other sites. If you’re hoping to attract new customers, you might consider retaining a local social media influencer who can post about your products, building your online audience and enhancing your reputation in the community. Personalized emails and digital ads can offer exclusive discounts or “after hours” shopping opportunities. Promoting these discounts via email and social media will likely increase enhance traffic to your website. Given this potential bump, it will pay dividends to update your online presence. That could mean adding new features to your site or updating your listings on Yelp, Google Business and other sites customers may visit.

You also have the ability to market to customers while they are already out shopping. Geofencing (location-based digital ads) allows you to send messages to smartphone users already shopping in your geographic area on that day. The key to any of these marketing activities is to choose the ones that drive customers your way and support your goals.

5. Prepare your retail location.

When November 27 arrives, you’ll want your inventory fully stocked, your payment systems working efficiently and your staff fully versed on your products and specials. You might kick off the holiday season by offering gift wrapping, extended hours or online specials, all of which you can promote in-store and online. To build enthusiasm, you might also consider live-streaming an in-store event either before or on Small Business Saturday on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. A livestream event allows you to go behind the scenes to demonstrate your design or manufacturing process, explain your product sourcing or introduce customers to a local expert ─ or whatever else might spark interest in your business. You’re limited only by your budget and your imagination.

Final Thoughts

With the ongoing pandemic, many consumers are more open to shopping locally. Small Business Saturday provides a ready-made opportunity for you and with proper planning, you can leverage this special shopping day to promote your business, gain new fans and reward returning customers. Equally as important, you can establish your place in the community, laying a foundation that can pay off year-round.

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