Calling all independent retailers! On 5th December, the UK will celebrate Small Business Saturday, encouraging consumers to shop local – and you can get involved.
Last year’s event was a roaring success, with more than 16.5 million people visiting independent businesses during the day. There’s a fantastic opportunity to make Small Business Saturday 2015 even bigger, if small business owners get behind the cause quickly.
To help you reap the benefits of this campaign, here are our top five tips for getting more customers through your doors come 5th December.
1. Start marketing Small Business Saturday as soon as possible
There’s not long to go now until this year’s event, so the quicker you publicise it, the greater likelihood that Small Business Saturday will have a positive impact on trading. Put posters up in your store, leave flyers on your counter, and encourage regular customers to share the event with friends and family.
The official Small Business Saturday website has a useful marketing pack, which you can request for free.
2. Spread the word through social media
In 2014, #SmallBizSatUK was the number one trending hashtag on Twitter throughout the event, which shows the weight that social media can add to your campaign.
If you have a Facebook page, Twitter account or other social media presence, make sure you promote your involvement every day between now and the event. Make sure you tag or mention the Small Business Saturday pages, handles and hashtags to add gravitas and encourage wider sharing. Post lots of pictures on the day itself, too; remember that people are just as likely (if not more so) to react to a message on the day of the event as they are in advance.
3. Give people a reason to visit
Telling people about Small Business Saturday is important, and there will be some consumers that choose to switch to a local retailer in honour of the event. However, many more will need added impetus to change their shopping habits – so think about ways to bring in new business.
Why not team up with some local musicians and ask them to play a live gig in-store, offer free samples of local food and drink, or put on a family-friendly activity such as face painting or Christmas crafts, to turn a shopping trip into an experience.
If you’re choosing not to take part in Black Friday (read our blog: Can small businesses ever do Black Friday? if you’re still unsure) and have a large volume of stock to clear before Christmas, you could use Small Business Saturday 2015 as an excuse to hold a clearance sale.
4. Make sure your customer experience is outstanding
While it’s important to put energy behind the event, Small Business Saturday is about more than encouraging people to shop local on one day. The greatest beneficiaries will be those companies who can impress new customers when they reach the store, and get them to come back and make future purchases.
Gaining and retaining customers, rests on making their in-store experiences smooth and enjoyable – from good stock availability, to friendly service and fast card payments when they reach the till. Can your store cope if Small Business Saturday generates an influx of new visitors?
5. Use Small Business Saturday to boost your year-round marketing
As we mentioned in our previous tip, the best outcome of Small Business Saturday is that you convert a first-time shopper into a regular customer. Giving them a great in-store experience is part of the battle, but there are other ways to encourage repeat business.
For example, run a competition during Small Business Saturday, which requires entrants to submit their name and email address. Use this information to create a mailing list and send email updates when you have a new product launch or special offer, giving them added incentive to visit you again.
The Small Business Saturday website contains more details about how you can get involved in this year’s event.