Do you sell 'stuff'?
Are you based in the UK?
Do you employ fewer than 50 people?
If you've answered 'Yes' to the above, then you should care about Small Business Saturday.
Lovely, but what is Small Business Saturday?
The laid-back cousin of its brash, big brother, Black Friday; Small Business Saturday started in the US in 2010. American Express launched the day in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. AMEX's intention was to run a campaign that encouraged people to shop locally, generally with actual 'bricks and mortar' businesses.
As with most things retail, it didn't take long for the idea to migrate across the Atlantic. Small Business Saturday debuted in the UK in the same year as Black Friday, 2013, and has seen enormous growth. For example:
- Customers spent £623m with Small Business on Small Business Saturday 2015. Up from £504m in 2014, which was an increase of 24%. And which built on 2014's 20% increase in sales.
- #SmallBizSatUK trended on Twitter for the entire day in 2015. Reaching more than 25 million people and accumulating more than 100,000 tweets.
- More than 75% of local councils actively took part in the campaign in 2015
Small Business Saturday is aimed at retailers that have physical shops, but there's nothing stopping you taking part if you only sell online, you'll just need to be a little more creative in terms of how you approach the event.
Great, I'm up to speed, how can my business take part?
- Plan and / or take part in a local event on the day, for example:
- Link up with other local businesses to run a joint offer / discount that applies to all purchases across your group. For example - free gift wrap, a buy now, collect later service, free coffee for X amount spent (if you've got a coffee shop in your group). Focus on adding value without chewing too much of your margin and you'll be in the right place.
- Celebrate! Get your Small Business Saturday marketing hat on and try decorating your shop for the occasion. Small Business Saturday have marketing packs and much more besides on offer and you can carry the branding into your social media channels and / or your online presence (if applicable).
- Run a special offer that's limited to just you, your shop and your local customers for the day. Embrace your inner local.
- Publicise everything you're planning, particularly any events, via the Small Business Saturday UK events space on Facebook.
- Raise awareness locally. Think about:
- Your local paper and other media outlets, including radio.
- Politicians. MPs, MEPs, local councillors. All of these people - and more besides - want to be involved in helping local business to thrive, so try and get them on board.
- Your own website. As above, make sure you share what you're planning to do as widely as possible. Promoting other local business' events as part of the bigger picture is also worth doing. All together now comrades!
- Even if you're not going to go all out and decorate your store, still display posters and other promotional material ahead of the day, especially if you're running and event or offer specific to you.
- Get yourself Social - we've touched on this above, but you should be thinking about:
- Key hashtags and handles to use in your tweets, for example; #SmallBizSatUK, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #ShopSmall, @smallbizsatuk
- Think local and involve your town, area and other local groups who matter (Business Clubs, BIDs etc..) in your output
- Get involved in other local social media, especially if it's relevant to Small Business Saturday. Respond and Retweet as much as you can
- Don't focus solely on Twitter! Think about which social media channels your customers tend to favour and focus on producing content that works well for those people. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube could all be relevant. I wrote a post this time last year that gets into more detail on suggestions for how best to use each of those channels.
- Make sure that you've got a system in place that allows you to pull together your stock control, pricing, order processing and CRM across all of your channels. Our Cloud ERP application provides all of this functionality and more, what better opportunity to sign up for a Free Trial?
- Most importantly, take part!
But I only sell online, how can Small Business Saturday impact me at all?
As with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday creates a mindset for shoppers that leads them to expect that small retailers will be taking part. Even if you don't want to run a promotion or offer, acknowledging the day and entering into the spirit of it will allow you to benefit from it. Things to think about with your online stores ahead of Saturday include:
- Highlighting your local roots - where possible
- Think about landing pages and other content on your website. You don't have to give anything away, but you could run a campaign encouraging people to support small business in general - and you in particular
- Make sure that your About Us, Company History / Information and any Contact pages are in line with the message you're looking to convey
- Your business supporting Small Business Saturday is something to be proud of. Brand your website accordingly and back the value you know you provide your customers. Small Business Saturday isn't an excuse to slash prices in a race to the bottom, it's about giving small, local retailers a focus they otherwise wouldn't receive.
Small Business Saturday is for life, not just for December
The momentum that your business can generate on the back of this event will benefit you throughout the year. Collaborating with and supporting other local businesses will lead to opportunities in the future and much more besides. Go on, get involved!
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