Are you ready for Small Business Saturday?

December 7th sees the first Small Business Saturday in the UK. We’re borrowing an idea from the USA where Small Business Saturday was first introduced in 2010. Reports suggest that last year’s US event made $5.5 billion (£3.5 billion) in sales for small businesses.

The idea behind Small Business Saturday is to encourage buyers to shop local and to support  small, independent businesses, so are you ready to make the most of the opportunity?

Why should you get involved?

In the USA Small Business Saturday gets lots of media coverage both online and on TV and radio and even gets support from the President. In the UK it is being well supported by business organisations, politicians and the media. It therefore makes sense for all small businesses to leverage that amount of interest to promote their own businesses. If you don’t participate you could well lose out to your competitors who will be maximising their involvement.

Time to prepare

Liz Pilgrim of BabyE pulled Ealing's business owners together to support each other even before Small Business Saturday.

Liz Pilgrim of BabyE pulled Ealing’s business owners together to support each other even before Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday takes place on November 30th in the USA and a week later in the UK so now is not too soon to start preparing for it. What are you going to do make the most of the day? Will you be offering any incentives to encourage people to buy from you? Here are some ideas:

  • add an extra service such as gift wrapping
  • offer a money off voucher against a future purchase to encourage people to come back and trade with you again
  • combine with other local businesses to offer a package e.g. the baker, butcher and greengrocer could offer home deliveries using a local taxi company; a nutritional therapist could combine with a greengrocer, health food store or restaurant to promote healthy eating
  • a pub or restaurant could do a deal with a local taxi company to offer a door to door service to get customers home
  • a group of businesses could combine to offer an information product to help customers e.g. a guide to local business or a group of food businesses could produce a recipe book using ingredients they sell
  • an interior designer could work with a florist or craft business to offer a ‘get your home ready for Christmas’ service

Get the word out

There is little point in participating in Small Business Saturday if people don’t know about it. How will you let people know about your involvement? Do you have a database to whom you could send an email? How about producing some postcards or fliers for a door drop or to be picked up in your premises? Why not visit some networking groups with your postcards and a one minute pitch? Again you could combine with other local businesses to share the marketing costs.

Remember, as with all marketing, you will need to repeat your message on several occasions to make sure that your prospects register it. If you are using email send several slightly different messages leading up to the event. Make sure you send one the day before and even a final reminder on the day. If you are using less direct methods do a combination of posters, fliers, word of mouth and try to get some coverage in local media.

Get in the media

It is highly likely that national, regional and local media will be looking for stories before and on the day so make sure you are ready. Look out for #journorequests on Twitter. Prepare a press release and send it to your local reporter. Think about newspapers, online news media, TV and radio, especially local radio.

Make sure that your story is news and not a blatant sales pitch. Emphasis the Small Business Saturday element of the story. Stories that involve several businesses or the community coming together are most likely to be of interest to journalists. If you need help to put a news release together download this guidance note and/or message me via the comments here.

Small Business Saturday represents a great opportunity to promote your business to a new market, make the most of it.

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