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5 Tips for a Successful Small Business Saturday - ThinkstockPhotos-177307146-d-c.jpg

5 Tips for a Successful Small Business Saturday

Hey all you small biz owners! Are you ready for #SmallBusinessSaturday?

American Express first launched this campaign in 2010 to encourage holiday shoppers to patronize small and local businesses like yours! Since then, small businesses across the nation have been wisely leveraging their position on one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year. In 2013, small businesses generated approximately $5.7 billion on that Saturday alone (that’s $200 million more than the previous year!). The best thing is you don’t have to be an American Express merchant to participate in Small Business Saturday (but if you do, you’ll gain more benefits). And if you’re new to this shopping movement, you’re in luck. We have tips to not only get you started but to make your #SmallBusinessSaturday a successful one.

1. Give Your Customers a Reason to #ShopSmall

With so much competition on Thanksgiving weekend, it’s important to give your customers an incentive to shop at your business. First, figure out which services, products, or sales you want to promote. This will initially draw discount-hungry shoppers. Second, why not doubly reward them for shopping at your business? Let them know that if they shop with you, they’ll receive a free gift with purchase, or if you can think of something more creative, even better!

2. Promote Your Promotion

There’s no point in slashing prices if no one knows about it. Make sure you reach out to your community—both online and offline—so they know you’re participating in Small Business Saturday. AMEX allows you to use their free marketing tools even if you’re not an AMEX merchant. These tools allow you to personalize your marketing materials, which is this year’s (2014) slogan. They include printable signage, “shop small” logos and infographic, email templates and sample social media posts, free online ads for Small Business Saturday, printable postcard, and digital banner.

But if you’re an AMEX merchant, you get additional perks like free online ads throughout the year, inclusion on the American Express Card Member Offer for Small Business Saturday, and a spot on the Shop Small Map, which helps customers find participating stores in their area.

Online

Social media and emails will be key to your online marketing strategy. Take advantage of the online network you’ve created through email lists and on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and whatever next-generation social media channels people are using these days. Reach out to your customers at least twice to (1) save the date, and (2) remind them of the approaching event. But ideally, you’ll want to create momentum and excitement for your big day so try to upload consistent social media posts during the week.

Tip: Remember to use the hashtag #ShopSmall so people know you’re a participating store of Small Business Saturday. It’s just another way to promote and increase your exposure to holiday shoppers out there, who may be looking for reasons to patronize your store!

Offline

Though online marketing will take the bulk of your promotion strategy, offline advertising is just as important. Print and hang Small Business Saturday signs so passersby know that you’re a participating store. Also, if you have the time, send out mailed postcards. Let your community know that you’re having a limited so-and-so deal. You may be able to reach a demographic that isn’t already a part of your online marketing network so you may be able to attain a new breed of potential customers via snail mail.

3. Extend Business Hours & Recruit More Help

These tips seem fairly obvious but they’re so important that we want to point them out any way. Check your inventory to ensure you are fully stocked and ready for the potential influx of shoppers that’ll stroll through your doors that day. You may want to stock more items than you normally would so you can maximize revenue.

How else can you maximize revenue? Extend your hours! You may want to open your store earlier than normal and even close later in the day. This will give your customers a bigger window of time to shop at your store. And with longer hours, you should recruit and hire more workers to help with the extra workload. Make sure you know how to look out for your employees on Small Business Saturday, as there are some potential risks with the impending busy shopping season.

4. Partner Up!

Take advantage of AMEX’s premier partners. Companies, like Yelp, have partnered up with AMEX to help promote your event. For instance, to help your business gain online exposure, Yelp is offering $100 in free advertising credits to use on their site if you sign up by December 26th.

Connect with other small business owners and partner up yourselves! Brainstorm some ideas to leverage your position on Small Business Saturday. For example, you can create a network of neighborhood shops that offer discounts if customers show the receipts of participating businesses.

Want to take it to the next level? Why not celebrate the most profitable day for small businesses? Partner up with community organizers. You can throw a small parade with your neighboring stores, or even hold a block party. If discounts don’t bring holiday shoppers out, a party sure will!

5. Keep #SmallBusinessSaturday Going

The hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday is not just intended for the weekend of Thanksgiving. No, in fact, the hashtag was initially used to promote small businesses on any Saturday. So keep that entrepreneurship spirit going even after the holiday shoppers die down. You never know how much—online and offline—traffic you can gain from simply promoting a popular hashtag.

Do you plan on participating in #SmallBusinesSaturday this year? We hope so! Let’s beat last year’s (2013) revenue record and keep the #smallbiz movement going.

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