We’re a small business. Not a retail business — we’re not expecting lots of people to drop by and purchase a website for their friends for Christmas (though it would make a terrific gift for the entrepreneur or artist in your life). And we work with large and small businesses, locally and around the world. But we naturally have a soft spot for local small businesses. Trading with locally owned businesses has some advantages for the community:
- The money you spend with a local business stays in the community. Some say that local businesses are three times as likely to recycle their revenue through the local economy than chain stores.
- Locally owned businesses promote diversity. You’re much more likely to see something new and different in a local business, and without local shops to support them, local artisans, farmers, and entrepreneurs may not be able to survive and thrive.
- Local businesses keep the local community lively and special. In the town where we’re based, locally owned businesses create a friendly, walkable downtown that appeals to locals and tourists alike — but not if all the shoppers get on the freeway and head for the mall in the next county.
If you’re a small business, you have a few more days to woo shoppers to join you on Small Business Saturday. What can you do?
- Use social media. Create a Pinterest board with photos of your products, your neighborhood, and your staff. Tweet about any specials you’re offering, or even just the hours you’ll be open. Post Small Business Saturday reminders at Facebook. As a small business, you can turn on a dime and take advantage of the speed of social media in a way that large corporations find difficult.
- Blog about it. You have have time to add a few blog posts sharing the benefits of shopping locally, your company’s local history, the great stuff you have in for holiday gift giving, and some great photos showing your smiling faces. A reminder of how pleasant it is to shop in a local store instead of joining in the pandemonium of a Big Box Black Friday can be compelling. Will your customers respond well to a blog post listing the crimes and accidents reported in the papers after Black Friday every year? Some will and some will not — if yours respond to fear, you could make the case for Small Business Saturday offering a safer family shopping experience.
- Add a call out on your homepage. If you have access, have a designer, and have a homepage that is set up to look good with a call out, consider adding one. Many shoppers go online to plan their shopping trips — 63% said they intend to do so in a recent study. While many of them will be seeking out the best Black Friday specials, some will be planning that shopping trip the way they plan a vacation. A Small Business Saturday note can add a sense of urgency or the feeling of a special event.
- Plan a special event. In general, it makes sense to plan events well ahead of time so you have plenty of lead time for marketing your event. In this case, the event is already planned for you, so you can just join in. A plate of cookies and a pot of coffee plus a welcoming attitude equals an Open House. Door prize drawings make a phenomenal way to build your mailing list. Crank up some Christmas carols and offer free gift wrapping and you really have a special event.
- Advertise. It may be too late for newspaper or other traditional ads in your neighborhood, but it’s not too late for online ads. If you wait till tomorrow, it could be, though, since you’ll need to wait for approval for PPC ads and you might need some graphic work for banners.
Enjoy Small Business Saturday, however you choose to spend it!