Small Business Saturday, November 25, is right around the corner. Since 2010, there has been a growing swell of support for shopping at local independent businesses on this day wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
According to American Express, a founding partner of Small Business Saturday (and the sponsor of Your Business), in 2016, more than 100 million Americans shopped small on Small Business Saturday and more than 6,700 communities across the country pledged to celebrate the day with events and media. And, it's expected to be even bigger this year. Given all the marketing support from neighborhood champions, the press, and corporate partners of the day, small business owners will be remiss if they do not take advantage of the attention.
We talked to six small business experts to get their advice on how to make the most of the day:
Sell gift cards
Gift cards are now the most popular gift in America. By selling gift cards on Small Business Saturday, you are giving customers what they want. Moreover, gift cards build your brand because they are given by people who love your store to people who may not know it so well. In addition, it pretty much ensures someone will come back.
Reply to your reviews
Remember that most shoppers look at and trust online reviews before they even enter your store. Don't be afraid of poor reviews or unsatisfied customers. Readers know that everything will not always go perfectly well. The important part is to reply with empathy and suggest a solution. Just replying to reviews is the critical part because the future customer will know if something goes wrong, your company will be there to respond and make it right.
Raise your sale game
This is a shopping weekend during which shoppers expect to experience special sales — so give consumers what they want. Increase the percentage off on some items your customers really want — don't just try and clear out old stock. You can use these promotions to drive future sales as well. For example, offer an additional promotion code on a purchase with a deadline, to encourage shopping with you again.
Sabina Hitchens, Founder of SabinaKnows.com
Work with your neighbors
Join forces with other stores and services nearby to send customers to each other on Small Business Saturday. This can take the form of simply trading promotional material to hand out to customers or something more elaborate like offering a deal such as a percentage off a package that includes multiple stores (eg: lunch at a restaurant, coffee at a cafe, a gift at a clothing store and a manicure at the spa).
Get the word out about your events and sales
When it comes to sales, remember you are competing with major retailers like Target and Walmart who will be spending big money on letting people know about their door-busting deals. So, don't be coy about getting the word out about the special events and deals you have going on. Use social media, your local Chamber of Commerce, your local media, and your fellow retailers to let everyone know they can get great gifts at your store. And when they're there, make sure to say thank you. It's important for people to know that your quaint downtown won't be so quaint if stores have to close because of lack of business.
Trae Bodge, Smart Shopping Expert
Ensure people can find you
A lot of shoppers start their day by searching for stores they want to visit online. So "claim" your business listing for free on sites such as Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, and the American Express Shop Small map. It's important to make sure your address, hours of operation, and all other information is correct so people know how to get to you!
Rhonda Abrams, Small Business Columnist, USA Today and Founder, The Planning Shop