Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 by American Express to help promote the little guy after the fallout from the 2008 recession. The financial services company recognized that while everyone was struggling to navigate the economic turmoil, many small business owners in particular just didn’t have access to the same resources to stay afloat, let alone compete.
And then they found a way to totally disrupt something consumers hold dear: our holiday spending habits.
Once reserved for big box retailers, American Express gave small business owners the perfect way to capitalize on one of the biggest money-making weekends of the entire year. Now occurring every Saturday following Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday has helped generate billions in revenue and sparked a national conversation about the importance of supporting your community by shopping local.
In the spirit of community, read on for some ways that chambers, associations and nonprofits can help prepare their members for a successful Small Business Saturday on November 25th!
- Does a member think their product or service doesn’t fit into the holiday shopping category? Tell them to think again! Businesses of all kinds, from HVAC contractors to exterminators, have been known to get creative with promotions. Help your members find their niche!
- Encourage them to update their directory listing with your organization – AND the rest of their various online listings – so the correct information will be easily found on the big day.
- See how many members you can get to come together with joint promotions, deals and offerings; encourage businesses to partner with a local nonprofit with a pledge to donate a portion of the day’s profits.
- Show them how to take advantage of free marketing resources to promote their offers; consider going above and beyond by creating a localized or industry-related resource kit, just for members!
- Guarantee a little extra foot traffic by enlisting well-connected staff to contact local celebrities about visiting relevant member businesses the day of. Ask said celebrities to promote their appearance to their audience for some extra buzz.
- Set members up with a day of customer service training and team building activities prior to the event. Everyone needs to have their game faces on during the busy shopping weekend!
- What incentives can your organization provide to the community at large to shop local that day? Last year, an entire county in Michigan offered residents a chance to win $5,000 if they showed a receipt from a Small Business Saturday excursion. Talk about motivation!
- Use your own social media channels to promote the members that are participating. Share information about the deals they’ll be offering to build the hype. Don’t forget to stay connected to the larger conversation by using the day’s #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtags!
We bet you could take it a little further and get a member or two out of Small Business Saturday! Whether it's one of your own events or one you're participating in, it's all about how you engage attendees. Get your free guide for Using Events to Grow Your Association's Membership to really maximize your presence!