Preparing your business for success on Small Business Saturday

By Stephen Ball, SVP, Business Banking

Check out these tips for how small businesses can prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

Small businesses represent a large part of the American economy. There are 23 million small business in the United States generating 54 percent of all U.S. sales, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

While larger retail businesses prepare to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving, smaller companies have their own shopping day: Small Business Saturday. Consumers are encouraged to visit local stores to buy holiday gifts on the Saturday after Black Friday, in lieu of big box retailers and e-commerce sites. Small Business Saturday is only six years old, but it has rapidly become popular throughout the United States with small businesses taking in a reported $16.2 billion dollars in 2015.

Here are some tips on how to take full advantage of Small Business Saturday:

1. Offer discounts. Just like big box retailers offer special deals on Black Friday, offer deals of your own. Whether it’s a buy-one-get-one free, special packages of your products or free product for the first 20 customers in the door, creating incentives to get customers to purchase is a great way to get started.

2. Partner with business and civic organizations. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), close to 40 percent of small businesses in 2013 collaborated with other local businesses in a community event to support each other and drive traffic. Whether it’s your city’s chamber of commerce or a local charity, partnering with local organizations can help you build connections that will allow you take full advantage of Small Business Saturday.

3. Communicate with potential customers in the lead up to Small Business Saturday. Use your current marketing channels to spread the word about your business in preparation for Small Business Saturday. Send out emails to your email list, create window displays or even take out ads in your local paper. You can even partner with other businesses in your area when buying advertising to bring down the cost. One ad could promote multiple businesses.The more ways you communicate prior to the day, the better you will do on Small Business Saturday.

4. Take advantage of social media advertising. For a relatively low price, social platforms like Facebook allow you to set up geographically-targeted ads that will raise your visability with customers from your area. Take a little time to familiarize yourself with social ad platforms, and create a budget to market the event. Facebook has a simple guide to setting your business up and getting ad campaigns running here.

5. Do something fun. Hand out hot cider. Get an in-store Santa. Set up karaoke in the corner. Offer a water bowl for pets. Give customers a reason to come in the door. Once they’re inside, it’s easier to get them to buy something.

For small businesses, Small Business Saturday has become big business. With a little preparation beforehand, you will be ready to make a big impact on your bottom line.