Everyone knows about Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving has become an increasingly popular and hectic shopping day. The following Monday has been dubbed "Cyber Monday" and is usually the first day e-commerce outlets offer holiday deals and specials.
In 2010, American Express began a campaign to call the Saturday after Thanksgiving "Small Business Saturday." The idea proved so popular and beneficial for independent establishments that in 2011 the White House issued a statement encouraging shoppers to buy from local merchants on that Saturday.
This is the first major exposure small businesses have had during one of the year's busiest periods. The unofficial holiday can be a potential boon for owners who raised their brands' visibility before Thanksgiving.
With a little over a month until Small Business Saturday, there is still time for stores to devise promotional advertising campaigns and create interest in their products before the holiday shopping season officially kicks off.
Making a store stand out
Every area has independent businesses that stand to benefit on Small Business Saturday. It's important for owners to come up with plans that make their establishments stand apart from the competition.
Many shoppers expect sales and discounts during the holidays, so those strategies may not be sufficient to entice consumers. Continually slashing prices to undercut other businesses can lead some local operations to risk diminishing potential returns as well.
Holding event giveaways can motivate new clients to come in on Small Business Saturday. Black Friday has become a stressful day for some shoppers, because the large crowds don't allow for a great deal of holiday enjoyment. Independent companies can improve their customers' experiences from the previous day by making the in-store experience fun.
Owners can hand out small gifts to every patron or offer incentives for certain purchases. Some stores can hold raffles throughout the day and distribute larger promotional products like custom coffee mugs.
Getting the word out
Even the best ideas won't motivate customers if shoppers are unaware of special promotions. As with all events, it's important to advertise before Small Business Saturday. Local merchants can send greeting cards to regular customers and mail flyers to nearby leads.
Mailing list marketing allows businesses to target consumers by their locations, so owners can reach out to consumers who live close to establishments. Some residents may not know exactly what a store offers, so sending them flyers and sales letters may pique their interests before the holiday season.
Sending promotional holiday cards is a personal gesture that regular customers enjoy. These greeting cards can show clients that owners notice loyal patronage, while also advertising special promotions on Small Business Saturday.
While a day can be profitable, relying on returns that are generated once each year isn't a sustainable business model. Local stores can use the shopping holiday as a launching pad for increasing levels of success down the road.
Small Business Saturday is a day designed to raise consumer interest levels in local establishments. Owners can capitalize on that exposure by making sure customers have reasons to become frequent shoppers.
Companies should ensure that their staff is ready to serve a large amount of patrons. Excellent customer service goes a long way toward finding loyal clients. Workers can ask first-time shoppers to sign up for mailing lists and reward programs, so customers have added motivation to return to stores.
Businesses that held event giveaways took steps to develop strong advertising presences. Customers aren't likely to discard free goods. Every time gift recipients use their promotional products, they're exposed to logos and graphics that raise brand awareness.