Black Friday may be a long-awaited holiday in large retailers, but the day after has special significance for those on the other side of the Fortune 500 cut-off: Small Business Saturday. Introduced in 2010 on the Saturday after Thanksgiving as a way to drive business to small local companies, Small Business Saturday is a reward for the time and energy that small businesses put in that often goes unnoticed in the shadow of larger enterprises.
By creating a way for customers to save money at smaller alternatives and drive more money into the local economy, small businesses are able to enjoy the same holiday benefits as the big players in any industry. Whether you own a retail store, gift shop, restaurant, brewery, bike shop, or salon... Small Business Saturday is a holiday designed to let you make the most of whatever you have to offer.
In 2010, American Express unveiled the Small Business Saturday event in Roslindale Village, Massachusetts. The goal was to encourage more shoppers to buy goods and services from brick-and-mortar retail businesses during the year-end holiday season. In its soon-to-be six years of existence, Small Business Saturday has achieved this goal, rapidly becoming one of the top shopping days of the year; rivaling such counterparts as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
In 2015, more than 95 million customers patronized small businesses (including retailers and restaurants) on Small Business Saturday. This represented an 8 percent growth from the year before. Also, "total spending among U.S. consumers who were aware of Small Business Saturday reached $16.2 billion," increasing by 14 percent sales of $14.3 billion in 2014.
How to prepare for Small Business Saturday
It's not too late to prepare for this big consumer event and to reap potentially huge benefits for your small business. Here are key action steps to take ASAP:
- Get free promotional materials. American Express offers free, easy-to-customize marketing materials for your storefront, website, and social media networks. Their Small Business Saturday website provides plenty of related information on how best to prepare for the big day.
- Plan an in-store event. You'll generate greater interest among potential customers by hosting an event to draw people in. Fun Small Business Saturday ideas include hosting a kick-off breakfast, inviting a musical or dramatic act to perform in your store, sponsoring a give-away prize drawing, and greeting newcomers with door prizes and customer appreciation gifts.
- Consider extending business hours. This day is all about your customers. If you think opening earlier or staying open later than usual will benefit them, make preparations to enhance their shopping experience.
- Be sure your website is ready for business. Everything on your website should be operating at maximum efficiency in advance of Small Business Saturday. Do a test-run of the typical shopper's online experience, from browsing for items and adding them to a shopping cart to submitting username and password information and completing an actual transaction. Eliminate any extraneous elements (such as videos or images) that slow the user's loading time. And check that every key webpage is optimized for mobile shoppers!
- Go all out on social media. If you've been diligently building your social media networks, now's the time to kick into high gear. Consider offering special deals to consumers who use your Facebook check-in page, for example, and join in Twitter conversations using hashtags #smallbizsat, #shopsmall, and #dinesmall. Come up with mini-contests, customer preference polls--anything that spurs interaction with your target audience. The potential benefits of getting some social media buzz going are significant, so be prepared to take an active role ahead of the big day, or appoint someone in your business to devote time every day to social media postings.
- Find out what's happening in your community. You can be sure your local Chamber of Commerce is aware of Small Business Saturday. Contact their office and find out what types of promotional activities are planned and see how your business can jump on the community bandwagon. Another winning strategy is co-partnering with like-minded small businesses in the neighborhood, particularly those whose products and services complement your own. Sharing the costs of advertising in local media outlets and offer discounts to each other's businesses can be a way of getting more customers into one another's store.
Small Business Saturday is all about small businesses supporting one another, and the spirit of the season is "the more, the merrier." Many small companies do not have the advertising budget or the manpower to host an amazing event single-handledly, but coming together with other local businesses can be a game changer.
For example, offering samples from a local bakery in your home goods store can show your shoppers how great their muffins are while giving them a reason to browse your sales. Be creative, and see how you can join forces with other participants for a successful Saturday.
Afterwards, say "Thank you." If you've done things right, you've built up a lot of goodwill among new and returning customers. Let them know how much you appreciate their business. Start preparing now and get in on the excitement revolving around Small Business Saturday 2016. It's a great way to build momentum towards that all-important final push towards big holiday shopping.
In an effort to bring attention to small businesses in Corktown, Mama Coo’s Boutique, The Farmer’s Hand, The Bearded Lady, Hello Records and more will be participating in Corktown’s first ever Trumbull Bagley Small Business Saturday, organized by Ask Jennyfer. Mama Coo’s Boutique is a vintage & resale boutique, carrying handmade items and small home furnishings. The Farmer’s Hand specializes in selling Michigan-made food and beverages. A few other small businesses we encourage you to check out on Small Business Saturday include: City Bird, Pure Detroit, The Rust Belt Market, The Detroit Shoppe, Detroit Athletic Co., and The Detroit Mercantile Co.
Downtown Ferndale businesses are getting ready to highlight shopping local with special deals as part of Small Business Saturday this weekend. Nearly 50 retailers and restaurants are taking part on Saturday, typically one of the busiest holiday shopping days of the year. Discounts range from 10 percent to 50 percent at participating businesses such as Blumz ... By JRDesign florist, Detroit Comics, Green Daffodil handmade goods, Boston Tea Room, Detroit Artisans, Dino’s Lounge, Elegance by Design home furnishings, Modern Natural Baby, Treat Dreams ice cream, MBrew, Green Space Cafe, Found Sound Records, Loose Cannon Brand clothing shop, State of the Art Framing & Gallery and others.
Other cities in Metro Detroit with Main Street Downtown Shopping Districts participating in Small Business Saturday are: Berkely, Clawson, Plymouth, Livonia, Canton, Royal Oak, Southfield, Mt. Clemens, Oak Park, Rochester, Wayne, Farmington, Novi, just to name a few.
The Main Street Downtowns and heritage corridors are alive and as diverse as the people who visit them. Shoppers delight in the variety of boutiques, retail stores, art exhibitions and galleries. For the freshest produce, flowers and hand-made items, visit the farmers markets. Many downtown districts also offer a wide variety of dining options including tasty bakeries, sidewalk cafes, coffee houses, international cuisine and fine dining. Special events offer fun activities, exciting entertainment, and great food. During your visit, try a nature trail, take a stroll along a vibrant tree-lined street, play in the parks, or just relax and rejuvenate. Soak in the atmosphere and ambiance.
Check out the following links to your local community in Oakland County to see all the participating small business signed up for Small Business Saturday:
Lake Orion - www.downtownlakeorion.org
Birmingham - www.enjoybirmingham.com
Clawson - www.downtownclawson.com
Farmington - www.downtownfarmington.org
Ferndale - www.downtownferndale.com
Franklin - www.mainstreetfranklinmi.com
Groveland - www.grovelandtownship.net
Hazel Park - www.hazelpark.org
Highland - www.highlanddda.com
Holly Township - www.mainstreetholly.com
Clarkston - www.villageofclarkston.org
Lathrup Village - www.lathrupvillage.org
Leonard - www.villageofleonard.org
Oak Park - www.oakpark-mi.com
Ortonville - www.downtownortonville.org
Oxford - www.downtownoxford.org
Pontiac - www.pontiacdba.com
Rochester - www.downtownrochestermi.com
Walled Lake - www.lakesareachamber.com
Waterford - www.twp.waterford.mi.us
Wixom - www.ci.wixom.mi.us
Small businesses don't always get the attention they deserve, drawing sales away from the local economy and into the pockets of the big CEOs. Small Business Saturday seeks to change this, ensuring that small companies can benefit in the same way big businesses do. By taking advantage of a day dedicated to celebrating everything you do, you can create new customers, build loyalty in existing customers, and ensure this year's holiday season will be the best one yet.