This year has been full of challenges and small businesses – including those in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland – have been tested like never before. With the upcoming holiday shopping season expected to look and feel much different as a result of the pandemic, support for small businesses will be especially crucial.
Over the past 10 years, communities have come together to support local businesses with Small Business Saturday, which this year will take place on Saturday, November 28. The nationwide initiative part of the Shop Small Movement is centered on uniting communities and supporting small businesses.
With the holiday season upon us, here are a few tips all small and medium-sized businesses should keep in mind:
- Create a safe – and enjoyable – in-store experience.
The in-store shopping experience in 2020 is certainly different than in the past. Social distancing and capacity limitations might cause longer lines, and your business may have adopted new policies to keep your staff and customers safe. But even as the holiday season nears, it’s important to continue creating a special and safe in-store experience for those who choose to do their shopping in person this year.
To help with this, consider the following:
- Publicize ahead of time what customers can expect when they shop with you. This way they know you’re creating a safe and enjoyable environment.
- Share information on how customers can pre-order goods online, what your pickup and in-store shopping policies are and how best to reach you with additional questions.
- Offer guests free WiFi, without disruptions to your internal networks or business operations, to give them the connectivity and positive experience that will keep them shopping long after Small Business Saturday. Also, consider extending the WiFi to keep customers engaged while waiting in lines or dining outside.
- Offer Small Business Saturday specials or promotions.
If customers know they can get a discount or a value-added service, they’ll be more likely to visit your business on Small Business Saturday. Offering one-day or weekend-long promotions timed with Small Business Saturday also serves as a great way to bring in new customers and make your existing customers feel good about getting a deal.
Alternatively, some customers may not feel comfortable or be able to visit local small businesses this year. But that doesn’t mean they can’t Shop Small. Online specials offer a great way for customers to support your business without physically visiting it, and these online specials present another option for businesses to reach shoppers and convert them to buyers.
- Use social media to your advantage.
Word of mouth continues to be one of the best ways to get new customers to find out about small businesses. And today, many of those conversations take place online. Incentivize customers with giveaways or exclusive discounts if they check in on Facebook, share a picture of their shopping experience or leave a review online. When a friend or family member makes a recommendation, it is much more likely to lead to a purchase.
In addition to encouraging shoppers to share their experiences as they Shop Small, social media is also a powerful marketing tool for small businesses to take advantage of. Contests or giveaways on social media help to grow a following and increase engagement. For instance, encourage followers to tag friends in comments or share posts for a chance to win a product or gift card. Or consider partnering with a few other small businesses in your area to spread the message to their followers. And for even further traction, use hashtags such as #SmallBizSat and #ShopSmall in social content to reach more people.
Above all else, make sure your community knows you’re planning to take part in Small Business Saturday. To attract customers to Shop Small, they must know your business is participating. Whether you reach out to local reporters, use social media or hang signs in your storefront, it’s important to let your community know.