It’s about four weeks to Thanksgiving; eight weeks to Christmas. You’re about to get real busy. Or are you? Small Business Saturday might help you answer that question in the affirmative.
The holiday selling season favors big online and offline retailers: WalMart, Amazon, Apple, and such. By the time Black Friday rolls around, mega-tailers have had their Christmas marketing in place for eight to ten weeks. Every year, we read about shoppers who camp outside major retailers in order to seize Black Friday deals. Then, we read “horror stories” of pushing and shoving and fighting over the last few “must-have” items. It’s no wonder that big retailers hire more security guards for the holiday season.
The following Monday, a.k.a. Cyber Monday, the internet clogs as throngs of shoppers rush to buy online. Roughly two-thirds of all holiday spending takes place from Thanksgiving Thursday through Cyber Monday. Black Friday is for Big Retailers. Cyber Monday is for Big e-Tailers. Big, not small, businesses.
How much of this revenue do you get?
The good news is that there is still a “big chunk of change” to claim over the remaining three weeks of the holiday selling season.
Why people shop Small Business Saturday
For example, many folks, tired of witnessing the greed and materialism represented by Black Friday, choose to return to the casual atmosphere of home-town, small-business, holiday shopping. They prefer to go to shops staffed by their neighbors; take time to visit and chat for a while, and enjoy lunch or a cup of coffee. Shoppers like to buy unique items that can’t be found at the Big Box stores.
As proof of that, National Federation of Independent Business CEO and President Juanita Duggan says of the trend toward “shopping small”: “Small businesses across the nation are often run by the friends, family, and neighbors that we know well, so supporting them is not only personal but critical to their success.” (http://bit.ly/2yBckAz)
Fortunately for us antique dealers, the “shop small” trend is growing; we just have to tap into it. Is getting your antique shop noticed amid all the noise generated by the mega-tailers possible? It is, by teaming up with other small businesses, that’s how. As political columnist and commentator Mark Shields says, “There is always strength in numbers. The more individuals or organizations that you can rally to your cause, the better.” That’s as true in retailing as it is in politics.
The template for such an effort has been created already. All we have to do is get on-board.
The history of Small Business Saturday
Seven years ago, in 2010, American Express created “Small Business Saturday (SBS).” SBS is an event held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (November 25 this year) and powered by mom-and-pop businesses around America. The following year – 2011 – the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of Small Business Saturday. Elected officials in all 50 states – governors, senators, congressmen, mayors, and even a President – have championed Small Business Saturday.
For the first few years, SBS was an American Express event focusing on creating more revenue for AmEx. This is no longer the case. Now, Small Business Saturday is a seasonal event (much like Cyber Monday, which was created in 2005) and it gets bigger every year. In 2016, 112 million shoppers turned out in support of local small businesses, and reportedly spent $15.4 billion (http://amex.co/2ycfYPZ). The outlook for 2017 is even better.
SBS promotion increases total sales
To gauge the effectiveness of Small Business Saturday, in November 2016, the NFIB conducted a confidential survey in order to gauge the effectiveness of Small Business Saturday; 2,180 adults responded. Participants, invited via email, filled out an online questionnaire. Results showed that in the month of November 2016, there were nearly 250,000 SBS social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Small business owners accessed the Shop Small Studio (details below) more than 85,000 times to obtain free marketing materials and merchandise to help with their promotional efforts.
Does SBS work? It does, if you promote it. Pete Mulvihill, co-owner of San Francisco’s Green Apple Books, says that his shop experiences a 20 percent bump in sales on Small Business Saturday (http://for.tn/2fi8wGb). Betsy Cross of Portland, Oregon created an SBS promotion called “Little Boxes” (a dig at Big Box stores, no doubt). More than 200 Portland shops participated in the effort, and averaged an additional 23 purchases per shop and $15,000 per store in additional revenue.
Free help for succeeding on Small Business Saturday
What, exactly, does SBS provide to help promote your business?
SBS provides a set of free digital and print advertising templates for your website, social media, and storefront for year-round use. Materials include pre-written social media posts, graphics, cover photos, posters, email templates, and event flyers, as well as:
• A step-by-step program to rally the local business community to the Small Business Saturday cause, including detailed instructions for hosting a “Rise and Shine Kickoff Breakfast” the day of the event.
• Ready lists of case-studies and testimonials on how local businesses have executed SBS promotions.
• Free event tote-bags, posters, balloons, and other promotional materials, compliments of American Express. (Source: http://amex.co/2f1gtCV)
Facebook even has a page dedicated to helping you with your Small Business Saturday ads: http://bit.ly/2y4Iq7b.
It's not too late ...
Is it too late to get on-board this year? Not entirely. But there are limits to supplies of free promotional materials, which are distributed on a first-come-first-served basis.
You can download the digital materials anytime and use them to boost your social media marketing and website presence in the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday.
Facebook groups and pages for SBS abound; you may already have one in your community. If there is one in your community, all you have to do is join your local group and participate in their plan.
If there isn’t a Small business Saturday group in your community, consider starting one for next year. You can begin to plan next year’s promotional schedule once the dust from the Christmas season has settled, and make Small Business Saturday part of your plan.
You’ll be glad you did.