It’s late in the year. There are just a few days before Small Business Saturday 2016 bounces onto the calendar. Most businesses will have delayed any preparations and are now thinking: ‘Help! What am I supposed to be doing?’ We know this because of the Twitter conversations we’ve taken part in over the past few days.
— vivienne neale (@supposeiam) November 29, 2016
— vivienne neale (@supposeiam) November 30, 2016
— Sage UK (@sageuk) November 29, 2016
Small Business Saturday promotes the small businesses that are such an integral part of the high street experience. They are under big pressure. You won’t find them in the grand shopping malls and sometimes you won’t even find them on social media or online. So what the Small Business Saturday scheme does is highlight these shops and businesses once a year. This is in the hope that new life and energy can be breathed into high streets up and down the UK and in other countries too of course.
So if you know that it’s not going to happen on December 3rd do not fear. What many do for Small Business Saturday should actually be a strategy that you roll out every week or weekend of the year. Every Saturday should be a Small Business Saturday!
Yes, there are some things that could be tiresome for both you and the consumer, but there are other strategies to transform how people see your business.
Here are our top 10 tips to keep your local business competitive this Small Business Saturday and every Saturday throughout 2017.
Top 10 Tips to Promote your Business on Small Business Saturday
1) Make use of Social Media
If you are on social media, especially Facebook you might start to look through your followers’ behaviours. What posts do they like? What excites them? How can you generate more of an active community? One of the great things to do is offer special evenings for Facebook followers only. You can make it an experience or a very special occasion. Maybe it’s a wine tasting or a ‘look at this season’s nail colours’ as a random example. It might be a night where people could just experiment with hairstyles or have their hair cut by apprentices. You might want to undertake colour matching or have a cheese and wine evening to sample new collections or product lines.
2) Start a Loyalty Scheme
If you lengthen your opening hours you could offer special promotions if customers shop between certain times. A loyalty scheme might work but do make it a generous one. Maybe ask people to spend a specific amount to be rewarded with x number of loyalty points. Some of the big chains do this quite successfully.
3) Create ‘Special’ Lists
If you start actively asking people to give their Facebook addresses or other social media or even their email you could add them to a special list that receives advance offers or event notifications. Pick 6 people and stage a special evening just for them. It all depends on your niche and how you interact with your clients and what you know they like.
4) Partner with Another Local Business
This is a great way to expand your reach. If you sell kitchen equipment, for instance, you could invite a chef, baker or amateur cook that might show customers how to use a newfangled gadget. Undertake a seasonal cooking demonstration with wine and food. Maybe organise partnerships with other businesses where you offer discounts at the local café, hairdresser or nail bar. You could even start bringing in other products from local shops that you can promote. How about holding a recipe book night where you choose a popular book and cook 5 dishes from it? The list is endless.
5) Provide Even Better Customer Service
Consider how your customer service might make a difference between a sale or many sales. If someone is struggling to find a dress to fit their figure then service that customer. Give her lots to choose from and even add a scarf, jewellery or cardigan and build up the outfit together. If someone is looking they probably really do want to buy. If you pair up with the local shoe shop you could send a pic and say, ‘Have you got a pair of shoes in a size 38 to suit this outfit. They could then bring them over so the customer doesn’t have to go anywhere. At the end of the day, outstanding customer service really is the differentiator.
6) Give Something Away
If your clients are passionate about their coffee or their bread then arrange some tastings. Give away a product. Offer or create new flavours and give them away for free. If people tweet or post on social media then give them the opportunity to get a discount or a free offer. Really look after anyone who is prepared to be loyal. These people are worth their weight in gold.
7) Convert a Sale into an Ad
If you want to build up your local presence you can offer discounts on treatments if people post a review on Yell or Google My Business. They just need to show your proof of their handiwork. If you’re not sure how to set up your business on Google, we wrote this post which explains everything you need to know!
8) Change your window displays
Even if your window display is strikingly beautiful, it could probably do with a makeover every once in a while. You should take real care with your shop front in the same way websites create a buzz by looking beautiful. Change it regularly, make it something people look out for and expect. You should aim to add something that really adds value to the street.
9) Create a Public Event
Make contact with other retailers and start a street community. You may find you can bulk buy items together. Choose a local venue and create a happening as a group. It might be a ‘celebrating Forte Street’s history’ evening or 20 ways to get your home ready for an open day. It might be a wine, cheese and books evening. The key is to partner with associated trades and see what you might be able to create in order to help sell products and provide an experience as well as a service. Most of all, people want a memorable experience that develops loyalty. You want them to feel they have been given something out of the ordinary.
10) Seize the Opportunity to be Generous
One of the nicest strategies belongs to Pret. The staff are allocated a number of free items they can give to customers throughout the day. This is part of their philosophy that’s pretty big-hearted and community based. One evening, tired and hungry I went into the Pret at Kings X. I was so shattered I could hardly stand. When asked for my order I could barely think coherently. Between us we organised a hot chocolate and a muffin. When I came to pay, the staff member said: ‘You’ve had such a trying day have this on me.’ Loyalty? I am extremely loyal to Pret always. It only takes something small to make such a big difference.
We’d love to hear about what you do to make your shop special! If you feel like it you could even send us a pic! We’d love to tweet it or even feature you in a blog 🙂
Vivienne K Neale Digital is a digital marketing agency in Hertfordshire, UK. We aim to help SMEs overcome marketing hurdles and create compelling digital content that drives results. If you need a leg-up with your content marketing or social media marketing do get in touch via our contact page for a free Skype consultation 🙂