Saturday 4th December 2021 marks this year’s Small Business Saturday in the UK.
Now in its ninth year in this country, the campaign has grown rapidly with a record £1.1 billion spent with small businesses on Small Business Saturday in 2020, and 15.4 million people choosing to shop small!
Here at Verastar we’re massive fans of all the small business superstars that add so much richness and variety to the places we live. Where would we be without the small traders – our nail bars, our favourite independent coffee shop, our local chip shop or the high street barbers?
Ahead of this year’s Small Business Saturday, we’ve put together five handy ways to help small businesses to truly take advantage of the event, and turn one-time visitors into loyal customers by giving them a Small Business Saturday experience to remember!
1. Plan incentives
People love a freebie or chance to win something, so give them that extra reason to drop by and spend time in your premises.
You could consider a raffle or a creative competition linked to your business. If you sell sweets you could run a “guess the number of sweets in the jar” competition, with the winners announced on social media. If you have a bookshop, why not set a competition for customers to describe their favourite book in as few words as possible – the winner is the one that’s guessable with the fewest words!
Or perhaps offer a prize to encourage your visitors to snap selfies inside your premises on the day and have them post the photos to their social accounts and tag your business. To keep the Small Business Saturday energy going, you can select the winner after the event – maybe it’s the most liked or the most creative photo – and invite them back to your premises to receive their prize.
Not only do incentives encourage people to spend longer in your premises, but they give you a great opportunity to create a buzz on social media.
2. Join forces
Why not work with other shops on your street to encourage shoppers to visit? Speak to your neighbours and see if you can work together to cross-promote each other’s businesses.
For example, if you’re a coffee shop owner you could offer a free coffee to anyone who gets a trim at your neighbouring hairdressers. Talk to your neighbours about helping to cover any costs and the increased business and word of mouth will ensure you’re well up on the deal in the long term.
Initiatives like these encourage shoppers to make a day of the event and explore the area, and the more of your fellow business owners you can build relationships with, the wider your potential network of customers becomes. Those relationships can help you throughout the year, not just on Small Business Saturday.
3. Invite a local celeb or official
Underlining the global appeal of Small Business Saturday, in 2015 the then US President Barack Obama dropped into a local book shop to celebrate the occasion!
While you might not be able to persuade a head of state to visit your business, you could consider inviting other local officials like councillors or a local mayor, who might fancy making your business into an impromptu photo opportunity.
Remember that other local people of note – whether that’s local authors, actors or sports people – could be flattered by a well-worded invite. They might enjoy the chance to drop by to find out more about your business and do some social media or even local press promotion.
With this one, just remember, if you don’t ask you don’t get.
4. Utilise social media (and hashtags)
Your business story is unique, so why not tell the world about it on social media? Documenting your preparation for the big day (decorating, making food, setting up your A-board) will get a bit of buzz going in advance. Then on the day share images of your most popular products and show customers enjoying what you have to offer.
Using hashtags like #SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday and #DineSmall on Instagram and Twitter can put you in front of an audience that’s interested in those subjects. These hashtags are incredibly popular around the event, so use them to make sure you’re part of the conversation and that you’re seen in Small Business Saturday searches after the day is over.
5. Think past Saturday
Although it’s important to use Small Business Saturday to support sales and boost footfall, your thinking should extend further than a single day of shopping.
Why not make Small Business Saturday a part of your annual holiday event line-up – alongside the likes of Black Friday, the build-up to Christmas and the January sales? Consider a series of deals and events that evolve and change throughout the festive period, with Small Business Saturday just one in a consecutive run of occasions to mark.
Come January, remember to take stock of what’s worked well for you and what hasn’t. Many of the techniques and strategies that worked for you this time can be rolled out at other times of the year, allowing you to build your business and extend the relationships you have with customers that visit you for these events.
Small Business Heroes
While Small Business Saturday is a fantastic event and a great occasion to celebrate and shine a light on our small business heroes, we think that small businesses should be appreciated and loved every day of the year. That’s why we work hard, 365 days a year, across all of our brands, to ensure that they have the services they need to run their business with a minimum of hassle.