Pop quiz: What time of year does your small business bring in the most money? If your small business operates like most, then you can expect between 20% and 30% (or more) of your yearly sales to take place the last couple of months of the year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Taking Advantage of Small Business Saturday
Financially, it’s such an important time of the year that many upscale retailers in Manhattan, like Bergdorf Goodman, Cartier, and Tiffany, spend an entire year planning out their holiday window displays.
Animatronic puppets and stuffed toys, plus giant lollipops and gingerbread houses draw crowds of thousands first to the stores’ windows and then inside, where enthusiastic shoppers, who have already been primed by the deliciousness of the front window displays, are ready to buy.
Though small business owners may not have the window decorating budgets of Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s, they do have something that these retail giants don’t: A personal connection with their clients.
Think about it this way. You probably know your regulars by name. You may have been to your clients’/ customers’ kids’ weddings or spent time with them camping this past summer. That personal connection makes all the difference when it comes to building trust with your clients. Your relationships also allow you to make the most of some bigger holiday events like Small Business Saturday.
If you’re not familiar with Small Business Saturday, here’s the scoop. The folks at American Express began this shopping holiday in 2010 to help small businesses around the country take advantage of the winter holiday shopping traffic.
Situated between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday encourages people to shop locally for the holidays.
Small Biz Saturday Equals Cheap Advertising for Small Businesses
One of the cool things about Small Business Saturday is that it already has some social clout built in. Business owners who participate in this shopping holiday can use the hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday on their Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. More personally, this means while your own clients, who follow you on social media will see the hashtag, your potential new clients will see it, too. Anyone following #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtag looking for good deals will see it.
This year, the event takes place on Nov. 30. However, to take advantage of the momentum you’ll get from participating in Small Business Saturday, you’ll want to use the hashtags on your social media accounts in the weeks leading up to the sale. This becomes a free source of traffic for your business during the holidays.
But hashtags without a call to action, in this case, won’t translate into sales. To maximize the benefits of Small Business Saturday, you’ll want to do something to encourage people to shop in your store, like linking to a coupon page on your website. Be sure to include a way that potential in-store shoppers can benefit, too, by creating a coupon they can print off or use online to get a lower price on an item they buy from your website.
Holiday contests count as another popular way to engage your clients on Small Business Saturday. Social media followers who engage with the #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtag can turn into email newsletter subscribers. This is a classic advertising funnel.
To make this work, you’ll run some sort of contest, and the people who want to participate in the contest go to a landing page on your website. Once there, they can give you their email address in exchange for a chance to win whatever you’re offering. Offer these contest participants products or services from your inventory.
Here are some ideas:
- If you run a local kitchen design business, ask your social media followers to vote on their favorite kitchen design for a chance to win home-related goods.
- If you own a picture-framing business, encourage artists to draw a picture that you’ll feature on your website and on the walls of your store.
- If your business is a travel agency, then offer prizes, like travel backpacks, travel guides to exotic places, and even trips.
There is one other thing to remember. Once people go to your landing page and enter their contact information, it’s a nice touch to give them some automatic gifts just for entering your contest. Just include a link in the email for them to download your free gift. For example, coloring book artist Johanna Basford offered a sweet five-page book for her email and social media followers. The book contained tips on how to color and draw better. Aside from the time that it took for her to create the piece, the giveaway is entirely free. The file is a PDF that her subscribers can download and print off on their own computer to color.
You may not have a short coloring book, but you can create an industry report and some branded desktop wallpaper specifically for Small Business Saturday. This kind of cheap advertising for small businesses goes a long way. Digital products like this are also simple to create for your marketing campaigns throughout the year. They’re also free.
In-Store Ways to Take Advantage of Small Business Saturday
Just because you don’t have a Macy-sized budget for holiday window decor doesn’t mean that you should neglect your storefront. Think of it this way. If the end of the year is the most important time of the year for your business, then probably the same can be said for your competitors.
There is a reason that big stores in New York pay literally thousands of dollars a year for their window displays. These attractions are so popular that these stores put velvet rope markers in front of the windows. The velvet ropes work the same way that they do at movie theaters or at a Hollywood movie premier. They keep the lines of people straight.
However, psychologically, they do more than that. Those stores sometimes have hundreds of people waiting in line to see their Christmas displays. Yes, these window shoppers are waiting outside in the cold to catch a glimpse of these displays. That’s how powerful they are.
So, the question is how can you create a window display that attracts attention on Small Business Saturday? Here are some window decorating ideas for your Small Business Saturday marketing campaign.
- If you run a retail clothing store, create a Christmas tree by stacking small boxes of your products in the shape of a tree. String lights around the window and throughout the display.
- If you’re a coffee shop owner, get a tiered tray and fill it with coffee-related goodies, like cups, red and green mugs, candy canes, and other Christmas-y items.
- If you own an antiques store, then pull some of your pretty shabby chic decor and create a nostalgic Christmas display from old sepia photos, antique toys, and a tree decked out with holiday lights and vintage Christmas bulbs.
Other Cheap or Free Advertising Ideas for Small Business Saturday
Be sure that you have a pretty holiday sign created for the day. Standing chalkboard signs are a cool touch if you hire an artist to create a call-to-action that features pretty chalks and fonts. Once customers come into your store, offer them goodies that will make them linger and shop for a while, like mint-chocolate lattes, holiday treats, and in-store coupons. If you have singers among your crew, encourage employees and guests alike to sing carols.
These are some of the best advertising ideas for small businesses for the holiday shopping season. They don’t need to cost much as long as they’re personal and engaging. Maximizing the effectiveness of your Small Business Saturday advertising campaign allows you to use inexpensive advertising tools like social media hashtags and storefront signs to create memorable (and profitable) holiday campaigns.
If you need a place to store some of your business’s belongings to make room for your holiday displays, you can turn to us. We offer self storage units that are very affordable and practical. Rent a unit for the holidays. Or if you create window advertising campaigns all year round, look into a rental unit for a longer period of time. Contact one of our storage experts today to find out how to rent a unit online.