Rally Your Community for Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday, founded in 2010, encourages shoppers to support local businesses after Thanksgiving and the Black Friday rush.

According to the 2015 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, this annual event is impacting local economies in a positive way. In 2015, 95 million Americans shopped on Small Business Saturday and spent $16.2 billion at independent restaurants and retails stores (up from 14% in 2014).

If you’re a small business owner, do you have plans in place to take advantage of this important shopping day? Read on for inspiration and ideas.

Become a Neighborhood Champion

More than 4,000 individuals, community organizations and independent business owners have joined together for Neighborhood Champions events across the country this year. These activities encourage community members to shop at independent businesses. As a Neighborhood Champion, you'll receive a Small Business Saturday Event Kit with Shop Small merchandise to support the event you plan for your community. According to American Express, last year’s Neighborhood Champions successfully organized neighborhood events across America that inspired consumers to “Shop Small”. Sign up to be a Neighborhood Champion here.

Plan a Location Based Event

One great example of community unity to increase sales and awareness was held in downtown Los Angeles in the arts district. Local small businesses held a “Shop the Block” bash. Over 15 shops and eateries offered discounts, free bites, and drinks during the two-day event. Are there other small stores in your immediate area? Consider joining forces! This is a great opportunity to share advertising and marketing costs so that you can promote all of the goodies that each business will offer.

Use Social Media

Stillwater, Minnesota is one town that is doing it right. Their Facebook page is a treasure trove of information about the benefits of shopping small and how you can participate. With over 23,000 fans, posts are targeted to encourage local shopping. Relevant hashtags are used to drive traffic and posts are put up frequently. Do a little research to find out if your town or neighborhood has dedicated social media pages. You can offer content, images and specials so that your business gets featured prominently. Of course, if you have your own social media accounts, it’s a great idea to put a little money behind key posts. Advertising can be targeted by location so you reach the people who are most likely to visit your shop. When you’re planning your marketing initiatives, don’t forget about social media.

Giveaway Some Goodies

The merchants of Monroe Street in Madison, Wisconsin joined forces for a unique giveaway last year. Restaurants and service businesses offered a Small Business Saturday Sampler. By visiting any one of the participating stores, shoppers received a 100% cotton Shop Small Tote Bag that included a map, guidebook and a truffle from a local chocolate shop. Additionally, there was a one-in-five chance of winning a $10 gift card to a Monroe Street business.

Plan a Press Release

Local publications are always hungry for content. Do a little research to find business and local events writers who might be interested in covering Small Business Saturday. Articles like this one in a local Oklahoma publication are great because they don’t focus on one business. Reporters tend to shy away from story ideas that are too promotional. This is another great way to collaborate with other small business owners in your area.

Are you doing a unique promotion for Small Business Saturday? Share your strategies in the comments below to help inspire other small business owners. When consumers shop small, everyone wins – including the U.S. economy!

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