The tips were:
Form a community
All four of the businesses we spoke with mentioned working with other local businesses to make the event communitywide, rather than storewide.
Lisa Higby LeFevre of Distinctive Gardens in Dixon, Ill., says she created a local “shop small” community to meet and collaborate with other small business owners in the area. Together the community plans events for Small Business Saturday and cross-promotes each business’ messages with the larger “shop small” message.
Kristen King, online sales and social media manager at Allens Boots in Austin, Texas, encourages small businesses to think of the day as a neighborhood event. King and her team learn what’s going on at other stores and restaurants in the neighborhood so that they can make recommendations to customers on where to go next.
“Talk to your neighbors and make a collaborative plan that benefits everyone,” says King.
Tell your story
Brick-and-mortar shopping connects people to businesses in a personal way. To connect your community to your business before they even step foot into your store, start a Small Business Saturday campaign that tells stories about your business.
Jim Donio helps run The Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, N.J. He and his team of actors and videographers are producing a short video for Small Business Saturday campaigns telling the story of how their business fits into the larger community.
“We’ve found with both Facebook and Instagram that we can tell the behind-the-scenes story to let people in on the magic and process of creating live theater,” says Donio.
Offer an experience
All four businesses we spoke with had plans to make Small Business Saturday a special day in their stores. The Distinctive Gardens crew is bringing in a local artist to show off her work, while Julie Kuppart at Dream Baskets will serve appetizers and host giveaways in the store. The Eagle Theatre will offer a discount on its season pass to people who visit on Small Business Saturday.
The staff at Allens Boots noticed that shoppers consistently took pictures in the same few places in their store: in front of the first row of cowboy boots at the front of the store, by the longhorn wall hanging and in the cowboy hat section. So the staff added signs encouraging customers to share the pictures and connect with the store on Facebook and Instagram. The lesson here is to make it fun to shop small.
Get the word out
Once you have a Small Business Saturday plan, let people know you’re participating. The small businesses we talked with reached out to customers via email, newsletters and Facebook page posts and ads, using age, region and gender targeting. Kuppart even sends handwritten notes and places phone calls inviting her best customers to come into the store.
Our new local awareness ads are also a great way to reach people near your business. People will only see your ad when they’re near your location, and you can give people directions to your business right on their phones.
Prep your sales staff
Small Business Saturday is both an event and a movement to spread awareness about how local shopping helps communities thrive. King says the Allens Boots staff gets briefed a few days before on the offers going on in the store and the promotions for the event, so they can be guides for their customers.
Say thank you
There’s nothing as valuable as a face-to-face conversation with a customer, so thank yours for their support. Distinctive Gardens will take that one step further this year and hand out gift bags with cookies in them to thank their customers for visiting, but no matter how you choose to say thank you, be sure you do.
Readers: Are you ready for Small Business Saturday?