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Two of the biggest days in retail are looming on the horizon: Small Business Saturday (November 25th) and Cyber Monday (November 27th). What makes these days such a big deal for small businesses, and how can you take advantage of these holidays to boost your sales?
First, some background on the two events:
Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 by American Express as a day to support the nation’s small, independently owned local businesses. The movement has picked up steam every year since. In 2016, 112 million people spent $15.4 billion at independent businesses on Small Business Saturday.
Cyber Monday got its name in 2005, when the National Retail Federation coined the term after noting that online traffic and sales spiked on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Back then most people had painfully slow dial-up internet, so they used their work computers to surreptitiously shop online for holiday bargains on Monday morning. The term caught on, and even after most Americans had broadband internet at home, Cyber Monday became known as a top day for online deals.
Last year’s Cyber Monday set a new record of more than $3.45 billion in sales, and this year’s is projected to be even bigger.
Here are a dozen ideas for making the most of both Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday:
Community organizations, such as your chamber of commerce or economic development council, can become neighborhood champions of Small Business Saturday and help generate support and spread the word in your neighborhood.
When customers shop at a local, independent business, the money they spend stays in the community, contributing to taxes, creating jobs, and helping make your neighborhood a better place. Promote Small Business Saturday as a way to give back to the community by doing something most people do anyway on Black Friday weekend—shop.
You can throw your own event or team up with other local businesses to hold a sidewalk sale, serve holiday refreshments, provide face painting, or whatever type of event will attract your target customers. Why not hire a local Santa Claus (or recruit a local small business owner) to take photos with the kids?
Contact bloggers, journalists, or other members of the local media to see if they plan to cover Small Business Saturday. If not, let them know about it and offer yourself as a resource for them to learn more. Get your Small Business Saturday sales, promotions, and events listed in local events calendars or shopping guides.
Start stirring up the excitement about Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday in advance. Use the appropriate hashtags in your social media posts (#shopsmall or #cybermonday). You can also create your own hashtags for each day to use in conjunction with these.
Try holding contests, offering discounts, conducting surveys, or giving away free gifts for shoppers who check in at your business on Small Business Saturday or share your hashtags on Cyber Monday. Promoted posts offer the best chance of getting seen on social media, so invest some marketing dollars here.
Use email to alert customers about your Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday plans. Be sure to keep your emails short and simple. Consumers are overwhelmed with hundreds of emails during the holiday shopping season. Eye-catching design, subject lines that convey a benefit, and easy-to-find deals or discount codes will make yours stand out.
Adobe Digital Insights predicts more than half of online Cyber Monday visits to retail sites this year will come from mobile devices. If you own an e-commerce website, make sure it’s easy for customers to browse and buy from their smartphones.
If you own a brick-and-mortar business, your website must be easy to navigate and fast to load on mobile devices so people can find you fast on Small Business Saturday. Include a click-to-call button so shoppers on the go can get in touch with you quickly. Use mobile marketing to reach target customers in your area on Small Business Saturday.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to promoting your business on November 25th. Visit the Small Business Saturday website to get customizable marketing materials including email marketing templates, flyers, posters, and social media posts for free.
Are you running a qualifying business that accepts American Express credit cards? If so, you’re eligible to be listed on the Shop Small Map, which promotes all the nearby businesses participating in Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are ideal opportunities to encourage customers to join your business’s loyalty program. Incentivize members by offering a discount for signing up.
Get as many customers as you can to sign up for your emails on Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Reach out to them soon after to thank them for their purchase—and send another offer to lure them back for more.
Create a special menu item, unveil a new product, or develop a service package especially for Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday. (Think McDonald’s McRib sandwich.) Create a sense of urgency by using flash sales or limited-time offers to convince customers to buy now.
If your Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday marketing works, you’ll have more business than you can handle. Be prepared by scheduling enough employees at your brick-and-mortar business, testing your ecommerce website thoroughly, and making sure you have plenty of customer service reps available to help people shop online.