Getting your Small Biz Ready for Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is just around the corner on November 30th, and with it comes an opportunity for local businesses to join in on a national marketing campaign driven by American Express. Started in 2010 and officially recognized by the US Senate in 2012, shoppers spent an estimated $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday in 2012. Surveys show that the top five places consumers plan to shop on Small Business Saturday are independent restaurants, bakeries, clothing stores, gift shops, and book shops. This year the event will be held November 30.

The Shop Local movement continues to gain momentum as more and more consumers are realizing the value of keeping their dollars local. For instance, local businesses reinvest in the local economy at a much higher rate than national chains. Only about 33.6% of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into the community, compared to the 64.8% return from local businesses. And this was the number one reason people showed up on SBS 2011. Of the over one million people came out that day, 75% of people surveyed said their number one reason for participating was because of the contributions they feel small businesses make to the community.

A recent article on American Express Open Forum by Rieva Lesonsky gives 12 ways small business owners can capitalize on any event, particularly Small Business Saturday. Some of our favorites include alerting the media, creating a Marketing Plan, developing promotions for the event, and following up afterwards. According to Lesonsky, your planning could include press releases, email outreach, direct mail, in-store signage, and radio, print, online and cable advertising, business cards and brochures, discount coupons or gift cards, or product giveaways and contests.

Finally, she suggests that that you follow-up with your customers that attended the event and offer them something special as a ‘thank you’. You can also survey your customers to get opinions on what to do better, what went right, and to get testimonials. If nothing else, small biz owners should take advantage of the online banners & logos, printable signage, and social media & email templates you can access here.

Businesses like American Express arent the only ones who have organized a day to support local businesses. LocalShops1, Tampa Bay’s most active advocate for locally owned, independent businesses, launched Shopapalooza in 2010 and is celebrating its fourth anniversary at the event this year. Held November 23rd in St. Petersburg, FL, Shopapalooza is LocalShops1’s biggest event of the year bringing together locally-owned shops, restaurants, art galleries and service providers in a Black Friday-type atmosphere. Its presented by TBO.com / St. Petersburg Tribune and is expected to bring out 5,000 to 8,000 shoppers and 125 to 150 businesses.

We want people to begin their holiday shopping at Shopapalooza and then return to the stores they find throughout the holiday season, said Mo Venouziou, Vice President of LocalShops1.  Locally owned businesses offer diversity and local character that larger chains cant compete with.  On top of that, every dollar spent at an independent local business has a profoundly stronger impact on our local economy than a dollar spent at a national chain.

Events like Small Business Saturday and Shopapalooza are great ways for small business owners to showcase their goods or services while enjoying the benefits of a collective marketing campaign. With the proper preparation and utilization of low-cost or free marketing tools, November could be a big month for Main Street.

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