November 16, 2020
Are You Ready for Small Business Saturday?
It's going to look a little different this year, but there are still things you can do to get eyes on your biz!

Small Business Saturday is almost upon us! With the shuttering of small businesses all over the country, the imperative to #ShopSmall has never been more important than it is this year.

You may be worried that it’s too late to get anything done before the big shopping weekend, or maybe you think #SmallBusinessSaturday doesn’t apply to you because you don’t have a brick-and-mortar business. But that’s simply not true!

Any small business owner can participate, and it’s not only a great time to try to make some sales, but also to connect with your customers and share your story.

There are plenty of ways to participate, and some will only take a few minutes to get set up. I’ve rounded up just a few ideas for you…

But first, let’s talk about why Small Business Saturday is important:

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday was created by American Express as a way to encourage people all over the country to support small businesses during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. The problem with Black Friday — among other things — is that for too long it’s been established as a way to score deep discounts at big-box retailers and many shoppers forget that it’s often small businesses who need their support the most, especially right before sales drop in January.

The goal of #SmallBusinessSaturday is to circulate some of those dollars into the local economy to help keep those businesses thriving. Many businesses are facing the crucial decision of whether to shutter before things go quiet in early 2021, so this holiday season is a particularly important time to #ShopSmall.

So how can you prepare? From getting active online to going analog with your marketing, here are a couple of ways to get ready for the big weekend:

Update Your Online Presence

Imagine you’re a customer in search of a specific type of business. If you came across one that seemed like a good fit, but couldn’t figure out what the hours of operation are, would you spend time digging for them? Or would you move on to the next business that has its hours clearly listed on first search?

Remove the opportunity for frustration by making sure your information is crystal-clear anywhere someone might look for you. This is a quick way you can make it easy for people to get in touch with you. And the easier that is, the more likely they’ll follow through with hiring you or making a purchase.

Go through your website and your social media pages to update any old information. Claim any and all internet listings, such as Yelp, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc.

An important one you might not know about is Google My Business, which can help boost your website’s SEO! I wrote a primer on how to set that up over on the Dog Trainer’s Umbrella blog, which you can read here.

Decide What Type of Promotion is Right for You

Most people imagine big deals and discounts when they think about shopping on Thanksgiving weekend. But this strategy is best left to the big retailers, who still make a profit when cutting prices.

That doesn’t mean you can’t offer a promotion to entice customers!

I always recommend that small business owners think of promotions in terms of add-ons rather than discounts:

What products from your existing catalog can you bundle together?

Is there a new service you’ve been wanting to test out? Consider offering a beta version of it as an add-on when someone purchases an existing service!

Is there another local business you can partner with to create a local “package”? Maybe gourmet dog treats from a local bakery to pair with a bundle of your training sessions? Try to keep these simple by using products or services you already offer. That way, neither business has to do extra work to make it happen.

Get creative! A “promotion” doesn’t have to include a discount to be interesting to customers.

Take Your Marketing Offline

You might have noticed an uptick in yard signs this year — And for good reason! They’re a low-cost way of increasing visibility among local customers, and keeps that name in their minds the next time they’re in need of a relevant service or product.

Whether your business is done in-person or virtually, the benefits of going analog with your advertising can be huge. Consider printing out flyers and postcards you can hang up or pass out around town (as well as yard signs). Consider a magnet for your car or some new logo’d gear for training in public.

Make sure your ads are effective by using these tips:

  • Keep it simple. Include your business name, your website and/or phone number, and an attention-grabbing image. Don’t make it too busy with unnecessary graphics or extra words.
  • Place your sign in a high-traffic area. Find a spot near a busy road, a high-traffic sidewalk, or on the community board at your local coffee shop.
  • Make it catchy. If your business name doesn’t clearly explain what you do, consider including a catch phrase. Be sure to keep it short and sweet.

Get Social

Lastly, don’t forget to prepare some posts for social media.

Get noticed by using the existing #ShopSmall hashtag. You can also get creative and make your own! Think of something clever to include in it, like a challenge or a call to action, and encourage your followers to engage with you by posting photos with your tag.

If you need help figuring out what to post, American Express has some graphics you can use. Personally, I love these free tools that make designing beautiful graphics a breeze.

And keep in mind that sales aren’t the only marker for success — If you “only” get increased engagement and visibility from using these tactics, you’ve achieved a lot!

Next week I’ll be back to share how storytelling can help drive engagement (and ultimately get you more customers). Stay tuned!


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