— Updated for 2017 —
A 2015 study found that 93% of shoppers prefer small and local! You can’t ignore that.
Even more interesting, and you’ll like this, 61% were willing to pay more to support a small business!
This is information you can’t afford not to take advantage of. So without further ado, here are:
5 DIY strategies for your small business
Plan on doing these things whether you’re participating in Small Business Saturday or not!
Go local with your SEO. Use local place names in your hashtags that people will know, like #NorthPlaza or #StageStop (that one is actually a tiny strip mall in my town, built where the stagecoaches used to stop). If you want visitors, start geo-marketing! There’s a nifty post and infographic about this from kissmetrics. This might be an especially good thing for seasonal locations because it emphasizes the time/scarcity factor.
Entice customers. This might be a coupon after an initial purchase, or you could order scratch-off cards that reveal random discounts or prizes. They don’t have to be amazing – you can use freebies or swag stuff you’d normally give away with larger purchases. And if you’re not using a customer retention system, it’s time to start, even if it’s old-school index cards. This goes a long way to creating a positive impression of your customer service!
Get to know other independent small business owners, especially if they’re also involved in Small Business Saturday promotions. There are great ways to maximize these relationships. Think of a landscaper and an interior decorator teaming up to make homes beautiful for the holidays, inside and out. Artisans, you aren’t exactly alone in your area. Seek out others whose items aren’t in the same categories, because there’s always a market for unique gifts for the holidays!
Associate your business with a community organization or charity. You don’t have to donate a huge amount; even better is to collect items to donate. Offer a discount for X number of items donated to the local food bank or shelter. Or give a gift with purchase for customers who bring in pet food, toys, or bedding so you can donate it to the local animal shelter. Promote the heck out of it and take lots of pictures.
And on that note, one last suggestion: be where your customers are going to be – online! Boost engagement with weekly questions like “What person is the hardest to shop for?” or “What’s your favorite holiday tradition?” Answer the questions by gently suggesting how your business could help. Run a simple contest: fill a jar with candy and post a picture. Winner gets a simple prize – maybe the jar? Post seasonal topical tips that may relate to your products or services. And always be ready to respond quickly to questions and comments!
3 more strategies to stand out
If you have a location, you definitely want to take advantage of the free resources from American Express. (You don’t have to accept the card to get the swag. AmEx is cool like that.) And don’t wait until November – start NOW! About a third of shoppers will have started planning and purchasing before Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.
Make sure your policies are up-front and customer-friendly. Flexible return policies are sought out by online shoppers, for example. Consider alternate financing – even if your area and customers weren’t affected by recent hurricanes, spending could be lower because of good-hearted donations to relief efforts.
Consider creating an experience. Can you offer a subscription service or gift certificate? Service businesses can get in on this as easily as retailers – think about classes you can offer for the DIY fans, like Home Depot does. It generates goodwill because you’ll be sharing valuable content, and it gives you the opportunity to connect with your customers in a new way.
If you have any other tips to add, share them in the comments! And as always, please like and consider sharing this post with your network. Thanks!