1 Dec 2021
If you’re a small business owner in the UK, you might have felt left out when the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday days took place because, let’s face it, these events get dominated by big business. But if you run a small business, perhaps this Saturday and the weekend is finally your turn to experience bumper sales in the lead up to Christmas.
Small Business Saturday takes place on the first Saturday of December each year, and this year it falls on December 4. The event is now in its ninth year in the UK.
The campaign has grown year on year, with a record £1.1 billion spent with small businesses on Small Business Saturday in 2020 and over 15 million people choosing to shop local and small.
The credit card firm American Express has sponsored the event from the beginning, so it typically gets extensive coverage in the UK press on the days leading up to the weekend. Local newspapers also cover the event because they’re interested in seeing their local high streets and industrial parks thrive.
Small Business Saturday is an excellent opportunity for you to engage with your local customers and community. Several online resources supply accessible and cost-effective material for you to read or download to make the best of the day. For example, the official Small Business Saturday site has links to download a marketing pack, logos and get involved with the organisation’s push on social media.
This blog piece will suggest seven initiatives you can prepare to roll out on the day or the Friday. Most require rolling up your sleeves and putting in some effort as opposed to spending cash up front. And who knows? If the campaign works for you this weekend, there might be certain elements you can repeat week in, week out to boost interest and your sales.
Do you have stock that’s stuck in your stock room for a while that you can heavily discount and replace with fresh supply before Xmas? Can you offer BOGOF deals (buy one get one free), promote limited time offers, or give free items away with a purchase above a particular spend? Why not hold a raffle with the winner announced at peak footfall time, usually around 2-3 pm UK time?
There are a few ideas to get you started, and that discounted stock could become the focus of your shop front or be the central attraction of the shop on the day. With the effective use of the marketing material and logos on the Small Business website, you could convert much of the footfall outside the shop into customers.
It’s obvious but worth reinforcing; small businesses need to create a collective spirit of community togetherness and cooperation on the high street, not just on the day but permanently. So, why not agree to partner with a few other shops to jointly promote each other? And these business friends you make could become permanent fixtures in your success.
On a meta-level, you could swap and stock flyers and leaflets. Or agree to put noncompeting logos in each other’s shop windows. Or why not use social media to shout out for each other?
Woman making a payment in a local shop
Shoppers are curious beings, and when a shop is suddenly busy, we want to know why so using whatever means at your disposal to get shoppers into your shop or business makes a lot of sense. You can use this upcoming event to email your current database and offer them a discount or gift, but only if they come into the store on the day to collect. Referring to the community aspect we mentioned previously, and this might also help your fellow businesses get extra sales on the day. You could also ask your social media followers to share a positive post about you in return for an in-store discount or gift.
You could quickly mail your database of customers and your social media followers that you’re holding an exclusive event for them on the day. A selection of exclusive offers reserved just for them as loyal clients might generate some interest. You could have the event late on Saturday and invite your fellow high street business operators along too. Make sure you take photos and then use them online and thank people for coming.
Can you excite your followers and email the database of clients to enter a competition for a prize? It can be as straightforward as a funny caption; the most likes or votes will get the prize. Or, if you’re a salon owner, give the best fashion idea a voucher. Or, if you own a café or restaurant, the best unique and easy to whip up recipe idea wins a free meal or drinks. Don’t forget you’re working on your local base of clients. You don’t need that much of a following or email list to make quite an impact with this kind of initiative.
You don’t have to concentrate on sales, discounts and offers. Why not tell your audience your story? How long have you been in business, why and how it’s working out so far? Most local people realise the death of their high street would be the death of a community; most of us like success stories from personable people who’ve taken a bit of a risk.
So, you could put up a blog on your site and use social media to link to the article. It doesn’t have to be a chapter; you only need to cover who you are, why you set up, the benefits you’ve brought to the local community and your future plans. And be humble, ask for business, on the basis that when you succeed and grow, you give back by creating jobs.
You could use the event to promote a local cause of charity. The increased footfall and interest are the perfect opportunity to ask for donations or raise awareness of a local need. For example, a local sports team might have just got started and need help to buy kits. Or a small local charity might need volunteers or cash.
If you’re a food and drinks business, could you take in donations that you match for a local food bank? Linking that back to sharing your story, could you give back and promote yourself by sponsoring your idea to donate to a local support centre like a food bank? Such a selfless exercise won’t get viewed as a cynical marketing exercise.
We’ve concentrated on ideas you can get moving with today in preparation for Saturday. You can put these ideas into practice with a minimum spend or no spend at all. Some of these should be the seeds on which you plan your growth.
It’s never too late to start using social media for your business, and it’s never too late to reinvigorate your local brand. Whether it’s passing trade or existing customers, they should welcome positive change.
You could regard this Saturday as an experiment, and if your ideas bring in business, then you might feel confident about potential expansion plans. If so, we can help with your search for funding.Get in touch to explore your funding options.
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