By Marie Rosecrans
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday . . . sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the shopping “holidays.” But I always make it a point to celebrate Small Business Saturday. Falling just two days after Thanksgiving, it reminds consumers to support the small companies around their neighborhoods, cities, and states. For small businesses, it’s an opportunity to get the word out about what makes your business unique.
Why do consumers like to buy from small businesses? For me, it means personalized shopping. When I walk into the restaurant down the street from my home, it’s gratifying to know that Sean at Johnston’s Saltbox remembers what my favorite glass of Chardonnay is and knows that I prefer the cheese plate over the olives. It’s a refreshing trend in uncertain times: People are gravitating more to that type of friendlier personalized experience. Connections still matter—perhaps more than ever.
Last year, Small Business Saturday encouraged consumers to spend about $17.8 billion at smaller companies. Excitingly, more people decided to visit and purchase from independent businesses on Small Business Saturday in 2018 than ever before (which bodes well for this year). A whopping 96% of Small Business Saturday shoppers agreed that the day made them want to continue “shopping small” for the entire year. But for business owners, Small Business Saturday can come with its own list of challenges, especially when you’re already focused on every other task that comes with running your own company.
Small businesses have to compete with larger companies with more staff and larger budgets. Luckily, technology has become an equalizing force for a lot of small businesses, letting you augment the personalized experiences you offer with, say, the convenience of a chatbot or an automated scheduling system. This is democratizing how businesses reach customers through social reach and impact.
For example, the Healdsburg Running Company in northern California’s wine country combines its online store with an unmatched customer experience and a true sense of community. There are a lot of big-box athletic shoe stores, and plenty offer online capabilities to create a convenient experience. But my sister still gets her shoes from a store two-and-a-half hours away because of the community and culture that the company has created. The owner hosts evening runs and uses a highly engaging Instagram channel to marry the in-person customer experience with an online, interconnected world.
Here are a few ways small business owners can distinguish themselves from larger competitors and focus on the authentic and unique interactions that consumers are seeking on Small Business Saturday (and the rest of the calendar year):
The first thing you want to do when preparing for Small Business Saturday is to determine what type of impact you want the day to have on your business. You want to plan for the types of marketing campaigns you aspire to put into the market.
Planning well in advance is important, and we’re only a few weeks away. Ideally, you’ve already begun to map out the day—not to mention what will go into your follow-up efforts. If you haven’t started, outline all of your objectives and begin putting the appropriate plan in place.