Small Business Saturday is celebrating its 10th year on November 30, 2019. Over the last decade, U.S. customers have spent a total of more than $103 billion in small businesses on that day. Social media has fueled the popularity through #ShopSmall and American Express’s enormous Instagram-friendly efforts. It’s wonderful to see such a movement growing and it’s a blessing for small businesses, but at the same time, it presents a new burden – maintaining momentum.
Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to stay local – to visit their Main Street – to stop in shops and restaurants they have traveled past, but never visited. Right now, tens of thousands of businesses are touching up paint, processing inventory, and preparing their shops to welcome these new customers through their doors. They will have record setting sales over the next month of business but still struggle to break-even during the cold, dark, slow days in January. However, there are ways for business owners to maintain the momentum during the chillier months.
KEEP IN TOUCH
You wouldn’t think a date was successful if you didn’t have a way to schedule the next date. The same is true with customers. Encourage your customers to keep in touch. Offer an incentive for customers to follow you on social media. Encourage them to “check in,” like, or tag your business in a post. Better yet, create a photo-op area for customers to engage with you on social media while there are still physically with you. And then continue to post regularly online – your audience needs to be continuously engaged with you.
BUILD A DATABASE
Keep a database of all your shoppers. Many POS systems allow you to input customer contact information, but if you aren’t utilizing one that does, consider having pen and paper sitting on a register, or a post card included with a bill to collect information. If it is uncomfortable to ask for everything, or you don’t want to create a cluster at checkout, offer a contest with slips of paper and a fish bowl. Or you can get festive – have a mailbox and “Letters to Santa” station.
Coupons are great but they need to be strategically implemented. Adding validity dates, like January 10-Feburary 12, encourages customers to return after the holiday season. Put a special code on the offer, so you know when the customer was last with you. This allows you to track the success of the promotion. You can include it in the initial purchase, or send it out as a postcard closer to the offer date.
Speaking of cards… Express gratitude then and later. Whether it be a thank you card handed with a bag or receipt, an e-mail later in the week, or a Christmas Card, making a concerted effort to show appreciation to your customers will have long-lasting impact.
Continue to partner with your neighborhood – Host a cookie crawl with recipes in December, or maybe a Souper Bowl cook-off in January, or a romantic date-night stroll in February. The more active your neighborhood is, the more successful everyone will be. Collaboration can open your doors to customers you may not have yet reached.