As the classic holiday song by Andy Williams reminds us, it is the most wonderful time of the year. The holiday season means getting together with loved ones, tree trimming, menorah lighting, the ringing of bells… and your point of sale system. It’s no secret that this time of year is the biggest revenue generator, with an estimated 650 billion dollars in gift sales, celebrations, and other holiday purchases. (source: National Retail Foundation )
If you think the holiday retail business season is only for the big boys, think again. Small Business Saturday is now as globally recognized as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so take advantage of the positive hype by thinking more like a wise man and less like the Grinch.
Shopping small has its rewards and American Express has built a whole program that does just that for its customers, reward them. Introduced seven years ago as a grassroots initiative to get consumers to spend with local businesses, Small Business Saturday has now expanded with Shop Small®. American Express card holders can now earn 2x the rewards when they make purchases with qualified local merchants. Your business is not part of this program? It is not too late to jump on the holiday bandwagon. Register now to become part of their merchant circle racking up bigger sales for you and bigger benefits for your customers.
Join forces with other like minded business owners and combine your efforts to make a splash for Small Business Saturday. Coordinate your marketing drives, start a referral program and spread the word. The Small Business Administration is a great resource for finding merchants with whom you can connect. There are also local organizations that cater and support the small business movement. Local First Arizona is a great example with their Buy Local Month project. Check them out for inspiration and information. Chances are, there is a similar organization in your area.
Think Like a Savvy Marketer
Educate your customers through the use of your normal marketing tools. Do you have a website? Make your participation in Small Business Saturday home page news! American Express will allow you to use their Shop Small® logo for your marketing materials, so if you are registered make that front and center. Advertise your normal products with holiday flair such as photographing them with a bow, under a tree or next to your lit menorah.
Write a blog post that offers gift suggestions and reasons to shop small. Most people do not know that for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $68 stays in your community, while that same $100 at a national chain keeps only $43 in your area. Inform consumers how their locally spent dollars make a difference in your community. Use your customer email list to circulate this post in a creative and fun email blast. Tell your customers what hours you are open, and keep them abreast of all the festive ways you are ushering in the holiday season.
The big box stores may all be clamoring for your customers’ holiday dollars but don’t think you can’t compete. Get shoppers to your door with the lure of time sensitive deals, giveaways and even a small event (free coffee anyone?) Another perk of shopping small with you? Shorter lines and personalized attention!
Now is not the time to be shy on social media. Create visually rich posts for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that highlight your participation in Small Business Saturday. Try using hashtags such as, #shoplocal, #shopsmall, #smallbusinesssaturday, and #smallbizsat for more visibility and use that American Express logo. Don’t be afraid to embrace your inner graphic designer. Free resources such as Canva and PicMonkey make creating images for social media easy and fun.
Tweeting and using video such as Facebook live during the day can boost both in-store and virtual traffic as well. Show off your festive decor, employees happily helping customers and even do a product highlight or two to create some buzz.
Think Outside the Box (and inside the envelope)
Too often at this time of year people get wrapped up (pun intended) and frustrated with having to buy “things” for their friends and loved ones. Shift your thinking, and your marketing, this time of year and consider increasing your promotion of gift cards and certificates. Gift redemption works especially well for service oriented businesses such as salons, massage therapists, and even mechanics who provide services like oil changes. Sell your customers the advantages of purchasing services this season and watch your gift business soar.
You don’t sell services? This approach works for a variety of businesses. Holiday shoppers who are frazzled aren’t always going to make the best choices for their friends or family. Take the worry (and possible return) out of the process by suggesting a gift card. Your customer, and gift recipient will thank you.
Here at BizIQ, our business is your small business. We are here to assist with your SEO and digital marketing needs and take pride in knowing that your business is growing with every click. Reach out to us with any questions and make this Small Business Saturday one that YOUR business will be sure to remember.