With more than 95 million customers shopping and dining during last year’s Shop Small Saturday event, this year is sure to be even stronger. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to entice customers to your shop or restaurant! If you’re struggling with ideas for the fast approaching official holiday shopping kickoff, we’ve got you covered. In no particular order, hone in on one or all eight of these thought starters to get your marketing engine primed and going strong.
Make a plan. Select a product or a percentage, or a combination, and create an incentive to draw in customers. You might offer 5% to every 5th person who comes in the door, or 20% off a purchase for the first 30 people in the door, or offer a specific item at a deep discount till they’re sold out. Whatever works for your plan, be transparent and straightforward; don’t bait customers and then not have your promoted item available. You might want to bring in extra staff and be able to freely converse with shoppers and get their feedback on the holiday season, what they’ve seen in stores that they like and ask about their preferences for your shop or dining establishment. This shopping day feels more community focused and less “urgent” than Black Friday, so bring on the community focus by allowing customers to meet you and learn about your products. Here’s a video of real shop owners, and their idea to create a window and a photo booth. So cool!
Tell The World. Create your message and take advantage of the marketing materials available from American Express. AmEx created Small Business Saturday in 2010, and makes it easy for retailers and restaurants to get in the game with logos, images, digital banners and more. If you act fast, Shop Small will provide you with customized materials (they’re posting a deadline of 11/11 – move fast). Check out the poster, window signage and flyers you can also get in generic version to distribute yourself. It will identify you with other small businesses in your area!
Get Social ASAP. If you haven’t until now, get help creating a presence on Facebook (at the least), Instagram and Pinterest. Post daily – your feelings (aren’t you excited to welcome so many shoppers and meet them in person?), your special deals or discounts or meals, images of your new products, what you want to give as holiday gifts (coming from your own shop, of course). Remember to be authentic and true to your shop – don’t try to be like anyone else. And you don’t need a sales pitch, just engage and tell your story. Ideally with lots of images and not too many words. This is time to showcase what makes your restaurant or shop stand out from others. Need ideas for social media? Check out these words of advice for posting from AmEx.
In All You Do, Stay Authentic. You started your business with a vision of what the customer experience would be. Keep that at the center of your plans and promotions. If you opened as a popcorn shop, don’t add fried chicken to your offerings at this point. Not unless it fits your image and vision, that is. Be the best possible fresh snack food boutique in the area, and stay true to your vision. That’s what keeps customers coming back, and telling others how much they love your stuff.
Make It Fun. This shopping day can be long. Make it fun for your staff and your customers to be in your space – customers are bound to stay longer and the longer they stay, the more they purchase (either now or later). Create a corner for kiddos where they can play or create so that mom and dad can shop, or offer refreshments as a brief escape from the crowds. No matter what you do, do it with a smile and enjoy yourself in the process. That’s what customers will remember.
Get Your Neighboring Retailers In On The Action. For this one day, every small business can get ahead by celebrating their offerings and uniqueness. Partner with others in your shopping center or on the block to create a theme or simply promote each other. Whether a scavenger hunt for kids to find the “gingerbread man” in participating shops or activities like a photo “booth” wall or ornament making, there is a benefit in numbers so get your co-tenants together and plan something easy but can’t-be-missed. You’ll all benefit!
Don’t Let The Festivities End. Continue to showcase your personality and tell your story… by now you’ll have that social media thing going and you can capitalize on the momentum. Get customers to post pics of their items (or dinner) in exchange for a raffle entry to win stuff, or just for good will. Write personal thank you notes for large purchases. Celebrate with your staff and thank them, too. And let us know what you’re doing for this celebration of small shops and restaurants.