The National Retailers Federation (NRF) expects holiday sales to increase 4.1% this holiday season. Wouldn’t it be great to see sales increase in the small businesses that give your downtown its unique character? On November 24, small businesses across the nation will have their doors open, ready to kick-off the holiday season with Small Business Saturday, the main street alternative to the chaotic, big-box shopping that occurs on Black Friday the day before.
As a downtown leader, consider these tools to support your downtown merchants on Small Business Saturday, and encourage shoppers to focus their spending locally this holiday season.
1. Make an event out of it! Meet with the business owners to coordinate hours, plan discounts and specials, and cross-promote each other. If the weather is nice, work with shop owners to have a sidewalk sale, create a scavenger hunt for shoppers to visit all of the participating stores and get a free hot chocolate or coffee if they complete the hunt. Snap photos on your phones, and tag shoppers and stores on your downtown’s Facebook page. Be sure to promote your event in the local newspaper, online, and community announcements. Promote it as a FUN shopping experience to jump-start the holiday season. Have a local salon or day spa? See if they will offer discounted services to help shoppers relax during the day.
2. Inform business owners of promotional ideas. For Black Friday, shoppers wait in long lines for hours throughout the cold night all for that ridiculously amazing door-buster sale. Small businesses may not have the means to offer the extreme sales, but a few strategic promotions can help boost sales for the day and attract new customers. Small business owners may consider adapting these promotional techniques to attract customers:
- Door-busters: Large retailers typically have a limited number of door-buster sale items that they sell at a loss–meaning the price is lower than the cost of goods sold. They do this as a marketing technique to get shoppers in the door to buy that sale item, and continue to shop while they are there. Consider a hot-holiday item for the year, and offer a really great sale for the first 10 customers who come through the door. Another take on door-busters is to offer discounts of 10-20% off entire purchases for the first 2 hours of the store being open.
- Complimentary gifts: Shoppers love free, and will go out of their way to receive a free item. Offer a special where shoppers can receive a small gift for spending over $100 in your store. Make sure the free item is of minimal cost.
- BOGO specials: Have a lot of inventory to move? Perhaps inventory that has stayed on the shelves for too long? Offer a “buy-one-get-one,” or “buy-two-get-one” free special to attract shoppers and make room for new inventory.
- Buy now, spend more later: Offer a special for customers who make a purchase on Small Business Saturday to receive a discount on their next purchase from now through Christmas.
- Collaborative marketing: Is there a cluster of businesses that complement each other? Work with the businesses to offer a discount to shop at another participating business (for example, if a customer makes a purchase at store #1, they receive a coupon for 10% off at store #2, half-off coffee at the bakery, or a free soda with lunch at the local eatery). Get all participating businesses together to create one large ad with Saturday-only coupons and deals at each participating business.
3. Use resources online: There are a variety of tools available to create your Small Business Saturday Campaign. Ready to get the ball rolling?
- American Express has been a key player in encouraging and growing Small Business Saturday. Visit their website to find tools and tips for increasing involvement and activity around the holiday, and a marketing kit that can be created specifically for each business.
- FedEx has also joined to support Small Business Saturday. They are holding a Small Business Grant contest for $25,000 to grow a small business. If you’re not entering your business, go vote on your favorite business to win the prize!
- Constant Contact has developed a Small Business Saturday tool-kit to help guide businesses through promoting their sales and participation in the holiday. Use this toolkit to help guide you to promote your business, or to promote your downtown as a whole. This toolkit helps walk businesses through the process of setting business goals, determining what the audience or target market wants, and what will get them out to shop local on Small Business Saturday.
- List your business for free on Independent We Stand’s website and get in front of customers who are eager to buy local.
- The 3/50 Project is a movement to save brick and mortar establishments that line our main streets. This project encourages consumers to spend $50 at locally-owned businesses each month. This website also provides free resources for marketing and promotion of the project, and shopping locally.
4. Keep up the momentum! If Small Business Saturday was a success in your community, don’t stop! Keep up the great work and consider having a Shop Local or Shop Small day every month. Build on the momentum from each successful event and make sure to keep the goal focused on supporting local, small, and downtown businesses.