Your Ultimate Guide For Small Business Saturday 2019
The Shop Small movement belongs to all of us, and we're just getting started. Over the past several years, Small Business Saturday evolved from a well-executed PR event to an officially recognized day by the U.S. Senate. Take a look at this wonderful article from Keap.com to help you prepare for pre and post this years’ Small Business Saturday.
In an effort to support local shops that make our communities strong, American Express launches Small Business Saturday® on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.
Quick Facts About SBS
- Small Business Saturday is Nov. 30, 2019
- In 2018, U.S. consumers reportedly spent a record high of an estimated $17.8 billion at restaurants and independent retailers on Small Business Saturday.
- 96% of consumers who reported shopping on Small Business Saturday said the day makes them want to shop local all year.
- In 2017, 61% of U.S. consumers were aware of Small Business Saturday, and 82% of those folks planned to shop locally on the day.
That Leads Us To One Important Questions...
Is your small business positioned to capitalize on the biggest consumer spending weekend of the year?
You and your small business can benefit from the Small Business Saturday movement in a number of ways. Read on for the ultimate guide to leveraging the attention of Small Business Saturday to generate more customers for your small business.
How Did Small Business Saturday Begin?
Over the last few decades, the big holiday consumer event known as Black Friday grew to strongly favor big-box stores, and small businesses could hardly compete on their own.
In 2010, American Express launched the first Small Business Saturday as an initiative to refocus holiday spending on small and local businesses. By 2011, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting Small Business Saturday, and in 2012, President Obama championed the event for the United States. That same year, Small Business Saturday in the UK was launched.
Today, Small Business Saturday has become a staple in the American holiday shopping furor following Thanksgiving and is gaining traction in the UK for the first Saturday of December.
But that doesn’t mean the holiday needs to be confined to just the United States and the United Kingdom. Small businesses everywhere can tap into the ever-growing support for independent business success around the world.
If you’re a customer-facing small business owner—even if you aren’t a retail business—you can still benefit from Small Business Saturday.
Throughout the rest of this post, you’ll find tips and examples of creative small business promotion strategy to prepare your business for the big day. You’ll learn how to make sure your small business is armed to collect all your in-store and online customer leads throughout the entire holiday shopping weekend, and how to make the most of them throughout the new year.
Prepare Your Business For Small Business Saturday Now
Now, let’s dig in to how you’re going to approach your small business promotion this Small Business Saturday with these 5 things you should be doing to prepare for the big day.
1. Start Promoting Early
According to a 2016 SBS survey of 2,000 small business owners and employees, 70% of those who planned to promote their business for SBS indicated they got their highest ROI from digital marketing. However, more than 25% of these respondents also said they waited until the last minute to promote for SBS.
If that sounds like you, don’t worry. There are plenty of resources for plug-and-play marketing templates available on the internet, and American Express will even help you create your own, customized SBS marketing materials, both physical and digital.
2. Create A Special Offer And Plan Your Campaign
Think about it. Aren’t you more likely to visit a store (or website) or make a purchase when you’re offered a deal, like 30% off, or 2-for-1? And during the holidays, it’s often the only reason to shop somewhere, since sales are everywhere. Chances are, this is true for your customers, too.
Creating a special offer for SBS doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, some of the most common campaigns that businesses we surveyed have used are also simple to put together:
- Coupon/promo code: Offer customers a coupon or promotional code they can redeem at checkout. This limits the number of people who can cash in on your sale.
- Limited time offer: Try offering a sale that lasts for only a specific length of time. You could offer a deal for the entire day of SBS or even a flash sale that only lasts for a few hours. This creates a sense of urgency and encourages customers to act fast.
- Buy-one-get-one (BOGO): Pay full price for 1 item and get the second free or at a steep discount.
- Shipping: If you sell products online, consider offering free shipping specifically on Small Business Saturday, or on orders of $50 or more throughout the holiday season. Who doesn’t want to save money where they can?
- Discount on future purchases: By providing customers with a coupon that doesn’t go into effect until a later date, it encourages them to repeat their business with you a separate time, or even give their coupon to someone else (another prospect for you!) to benefit from.
Each of these campaigns achieves different objectives, and you can create a promotion around 1 idea or combine them. These kinds of promotions work well either to drive traffic to an online storefront or to a brick-and-mortar location.
While product-based businesses seem to benefit the most from these kinds of promotions, businesses that provide services can gain from them, too. For example, a cleaning service could use a coupon for a discounted post-holiday party cleaning. The terms of the discount could require the customer to purchase on SBS and use the service before January 31.
Consider your objectives for SBS as you choose the promotion. If you have a brick and mortar, a coupon is a powerful way to drive traffic to your store. A limited time offer, however, can work well for driving traffic to your website, especially if the offer ends at midnight when your physical store may be closed.
3. Prepare Your Inventory
You can’t sell what you don’t have, so you have to stock up. But on the other hand, you don’t want to have an excess of inventory leading into the new year. Whether you’re expecting customers in-store or online, it’s crucial to make sure your inventory is well-stocked and well-organized.
A good way to make sure you’re ordering the right kind and the right amount of inventory is to use predictive analytics, a set of technologies that let businesses use historical data to make predictions on customer behavior and spending patterns.
Don’t let the techno-jargon scare you.
There are plenty of tools available to small businesses that help simplify and carry out this process, such as Canopy Labs, StitchLabs, and InsightSquared.
Another way to ensure your inventory management is staying on track and your customers stay happy is to streamline fulfillment. E-commerce shipping solutions like Webforce HQ, Shopify, USPS, and WooCommerce can plug right into your inventory management platform to help you do just that.
4. Segment Your List
Sending a single promotional message to everyone on your list may be the easiest and simplest way to promote your sale, but you can increase the number of people who actually respond to your promotion by segmenting your audiences and marketing to them about something relevant to their interests and needs.
To segment your audience, you’ll need to identify chunks of people who share common affinities. Some of these may include:
- Purchase History: Have they purchased 1 type of product or service from you? Perhaps SBS is a good time to offer them a coupon for an upsell or complementary product.
- Male/Female: If your business has gender-specific products, you can use segmentation to personalize the promotional emails. For example, you can include featured products that target the specific gender you’ve segmented.
- Geographic Location: If you have multiple locations, you can suggest the nearest location to your recipient to help them get to your store quickly or aid them as they plan their shopping route for SBS.
- Weather:As you get closer to Small Business Saturday, and the holidays generally, weather plays a distinct role in how people experience this time of year. If some of your list is in colder climates, like Chicago, they could have a different response to your offer than people in warmer climates, like San Diego. You may be able to optimize your holiday offer by keeping the weather in mind.
By segmenting your audience, you can craft a message that is more relevant to them, so they’ll be more likely to consider what you have to offer.
For example, if you’re based in the Bay Area, but you know you have a segment of contacts based in the Northeastern United States where a cold snap is about to hit, you can push relevant materials to that group promoting your winter and cold-weather gear.
Similarly, if you’re aware of a group of customers who have all previously purchased something similar, like a new bedding set, they may be interested in a discount on sheets or drapes. The more you know about your customers, the more power you have to shape your offers to their needs and increase the likelihood that they’ll respond.
5. Get Your Community Involved
Operating your promotions on Small Business Saturday doesn’t have to be a solo venture. Consider deploying a “co-opetition,” and partner with other businesses that may traditionally be considered your competition. For example, if you run a hair salon, consider partnering with complementary business, like a local spa or makeup artist, for bundle deals or cross-promotions.
The operative keywords here are complementary and local. Co-opetition works best when the other partner is in the same realm of business as you but is not a direct competitor, and bundled deals and cross-promotions make the most sense when they’re able to be fulfilled locally. Make sure to have a contract in place and ensure that the terms of your promotional partnership are clearly outlined.
Want to give your community involvement an extra boost? Consider donating a portion of your proceeds to a cause that’s important to you or your community, or host a donation drive for a local women’s shelter or soup kitchen. According to a report by Cone Communications, 87% of Americans are willing to purchase from a company if they openly advocated for an issue they care about. By showing that you sincerely care for your community, not only will you be seen in a positive light, your customers will be more likely to want to do business with you again if they know they’re supporting a good cause through you.
If you need some more ideas on how to get your community involved with your Small Business Efforts, American Express has some great tips on how to become a “Neighborhood Champion,” including a guide on how to host a community event.
Your Strategy For Small Business Saturday Success
Now that you’ve got your initial prep done, here are some tips on how to build a Small Business Strategy that generates more customers for your small business.
Register with the official “Shop Small” website
Small Business Saturday gets a lot of exposure across all the major media and advertising channels the week leading up to Small Business Saturday. Many people will go to the official “Shop Small” website to find local small businesses to support. So, for your business, it’s essential that you take 5 to 10 minutes to get listed on the website. Fortunately, the process is simple.
NOTE:In order to qualify for placement on the AMEX Shop Small map, you need to be a registered American Express merchant.
Once you get your business registered, people will be able to find you on the interactive map on the website. It can’t be emphasized enough how powerful this map is for Small Business Saturday. American Express also provides some incentives for consumers to shop small with their AMEX cards, so they’ll be looking here. And you want them to find you.
You can filter your local small business search into 5 main categories. Once a category has been selected, you will see an interactive map with all the registered local small businesses.
Tons of people in your local area will be looking to spend money at local small businesses on Small Business Saturday this year. Did we mention how important it is to get your small business listed on this map?
Click here to get the official Small Business Saturday registration process started. On the Small Business Saturday website, you’ll find a handful of success stories that show how small-business owners leveraged Small Business Saturday to directly benefit their business. Why not try to get your business featured next year?
Download The Official Marketing Package
The Shop Small team at American Express has put together an awesome marketing package, called Shop Small Studio, that takes almost all the heavy lifting off of you. All you need to do is take the content that they’ve already created for you and blast it out to your customers and social networks.
The Official Shop Small Studio marketing package includes:
- Shop Small logos
- Digital Banners
- Printable Signage
- Sample Email Templates
- Social Media Posts
- Facebook Cover Image
These tools make it really easy to reach out to your customers and let them know you’re participating in Small Business Saturday.
The entire registration process takes about 10 minutes and, as you can see, there are quite a few perks to listing your business on the official Shop Small website.
Announce And Follow Up
Since you already segmented your email list in the prep phase, so now it’s time to plan your email schedule and compose emails.
Your objective is to get your list thinking about the sale you’re running on Small Business Saturday. To do that you’ve got to announce the email early on and then follow up over the days leading up to the sale. You don’t want to flood your recipients’ inboxes with email, though. Try to keep your follow-ups to no more than 1 per day.
Keep in mind: Thanksgiving and Black Friday are on the calendar around the same time as Small Business Saturday here in the U.S. Consider when your list will be most likely to read an email on those days.
Now that you know your schedule, you can compose the emails. Here are some things to keep in mind as you write:
- Use great subject lines.The best subject lines invite curiosity while making it clear that you’re running a sale. Don’t use the same subject line twice in the campaign.
- Stay on task.Don’t use the email as an opportunity to update your list on other news or offers. To be most effective, stick to a single message: your sale.
- Remember your segments.Keep in mind why you segmented your list and write accordingly.
- Shorter is betterGet right to the point and provide all the necessary details.
For whichever promotion you have chosen to run with for SBS, be sure to emphasize that you’re a small business. You can continue to play on the sympathy people have for supporting small businesses throughout your other holiday promotions, as well. Download and incorporate the Shop Small logo on your emails to identify as part of the Shop Small movement.
After The Day Is Done
Congratulations! You’ve made it through 1 of the busiest shopping weekends of the year. You worked hard to prepare your small business for Small Business Saturday, armed it to collect in-person and online leads, and received your customers with open arms. Hopefully, you’re seeing the fruits of your labor in purchases, organic traffic, new contact data, click-through rates, etc.
While all of that is worth celebrating, it’s not time to slow down—yet. Here’s how to keep this momentum going through the end of the holidays and into the new year:
Track Your Interactions
If you incorporated any kind of digital contact-collecting tactics during SBS, like a landing page or email campaign, you should be using the data from these interactions to track your visitors’ behaviors. The more a lead has interacted with your business after the initial lead magnet, the hotter they are and the more likely they are to purchase from you.
Some benchmarks to track include:
- Asset downloads:If your digital asset was downloaded, hooray! It could mean it’s helping your prospect to find a solution for their needs. This lead is interested in your brand, so focus your efforts on nurturing him or her through the sales funnel.
- Email opens:Whether or not an email was opened, or which ones were opened more than others, gives you valuable insight into what type of content is landing with your leads, and which kind could use more work.
- Click-through to webforms:“Web form” is just another way to say digital contact form. When tracking this, you’re looking for whether a lead provided all their contact on the web form to retrieve your asset—you’d better have a follow-up plan for these people. Yet, even if they don’t submit their phone number for a call, they’re still showing a level of interest just by virtue of the fact that they clicked through to your form. Take advantage of this by adding them to a lead nurturing email follow-up campaign.
- Request consultation:If a visitor has requested a consultation, act now. This is a contact you don’t want to lose track of because they could be ready to purchase.
Reply To Your Reviews
When you’re making an important investment or a significant purchase, do you look at online reviews on whatever it is you’re about to put money toward? Your prospects do.
Like word-of-mouth advertising, shoppers tend to trust and seek online reviews from real customers before they even visit your business. Take this as an opportunity to engage with both your satisfied customers and displeased visitors.
According to a survey by ReviewTrackers, an online review management tool, 52% of customers expect a response from businesses within 7 days of writing a review, especially if it’s negative. If you receive a less-than-positive response from a visitor, be sure to thank them for their feedback. You should also show empathy in your response, suggest a solution to their issue, and offer to escalate the conversation offline to a phone call or direct message.
You should also respond to your positive reviews, too. Thank them for their remarks, show your appreciation for their business, and ask them for feedback on what made their experience so enjoyable (if they haven’t already shared that information with you).
Simply replying to your reviews shows your prospects and customers that you genuinely care about their experiences and needs, are listening to their feedback, and constantly trying to improve your service.
Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
If you haven’t already followed up with those who completed your lead capture form during SBS, stop reading this and do so now. Timeliness is of the utmost importance when following up with your leads. According to an independent study by Keap in 2018, 44% of potential customers said they went with another company because of lack of follow-up.
Following up, whether by phone, email, or social media, helps cement your connection with your leads and builds their trust in you. It’s your job to reinforce that they’re making the right decision by doing business with you, so include verifiable results, testimonials, or metrics that emphasize your business promise in your follow-ups.
Make sure you’re also deploying a marketing automation tool for the follow-up cadence needed to keep your leads on the line. When used properly, marketing automation allows you to create email campaigns that fire based on where your prospects have interacted with your digital marketing efforts.
To avoid being 1 of the 400 billion emails stamped as spam, be sure to tailor your emails to your customers for higher engagement rates. Even when using automation, personalization is easy to do.
Use Social Media To Encourage Repeat Business
You’ve probably already been using your various social media platforms to advertise your promotions and encourage your followers to #shopsmall on #SmallBusinessSaturday. Don’t stop that engagement now. Use your various platforms to respond to the feedback or reviews you receive, and use them as another channel for customer service. You can also retweet or share your visitors’ and customers’ posts about your business that show their satisfaction.
Practicing this kind of engagement and interactions with your SBS visitors on social media shows you’re paying attention to what they’re saying about your business. It also helps to create a sense of community or familiarity between them and you, which encourages brand loyalty, repeat business, and word-of-mouth advertising organic of your own efforts.
Don’t Forget To Enjoy Yourself
We know how hard small-business owners and employees work, especially through the holidays, so we really want you to be able to sit back, relax, and focus on the important things in life. Set yourself up for this kind of success by tracking your leads, responding to your reviews, following up with your leads, and engaging on social media. When all's said and done, you’ll be enjoying that glass of eggnog in no time. Cheers to you and all your hard work!
Small business Saturday Is 1 Special Day You Don’t Want To Miss During The Holiday Season
Small Business Saturday has a unique place in the holiday season. It’s as much about inviting consumers to shop at local small businesses on one Saturday in November, as it is about raising awareness to consumers that small businesses are competing during the entire holiday season.
The official Small Business Saturday website has many valuable resources that you can tailor and implement in a relatively short amount of time. Create an irresistible Small Business Saturday offer and get the word out to your customers and local community with the resources American Express has made available to small businesses through their Shop Small on Small Business Saturday initiative.
Use the tips in this post to your advantage as you prepare for Small Business Saturday, and the rest of your end-of-year planning, too. When you’re able to earn the consumer’s trust, meet their needs, and provide them an incentive to return, you’re sure to succeed no matter the day of the year.