Now that a chill is in the air and the leaves are falling, it is officially time to start thinking about the holidays. Indeed, for the small business, planning for the coming sales rush is vital and three events typically get our attention:
- Black Friday
- Small Business Saturday
- The December holidays
I say “typically” because all three are not created equal.
For the small business, Black Friday should be far less important than Small Business Saturday that follows it and the holidays generally.
Here’s why: Black Friday is all about discounts and sales. It is a race to the bottom, and for most small business owners, that is a race you lose, for two reasons:
- First, you do not have the margins or markup that allow you to deeply discount products or services. Best leave that to Amazon.
- Additionally, in most cases, deeply discounting your offerings is bad for your brand—unless being “the low-price leader” is your brand.
So, spend your energy and precious marketing dollars on those activities that can give you the biggest bang for your small-business buck.
Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is the one day a year that’s set aside specifically to support, celebrate—and pay tribute to—the countless local businesses that keep our economy booming. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:
“In 2022, Small Business Saturday will take place on Saturday, November 26… Whether it’s purchasing a cup of coffee down the street or buying a gift from a local artist’s online shop, patrons can make a difference by shopping small.”
Given that people will be out that day, looking for local small businesses to support, it only makes sense to let shoppers know that your business is one of those.
How can you participate? There are two ways. Officially, you can sign up through American Express. Here’s a video on how to do that. But even if you don’t officially sign up, you can still participate: Hang a “Shop Small on November 26!” sign in your shop. Remind people in your e-newsletter. Trumpet it on social media. Send a text message to your customers to encourage them “Shop Small.”
But don’t stop there.
The December Holidays
Covid changed a lot of things for a lot of people, and one of them is our collective shopping habits. More of your customers shopping online. Your job is to catch their attention so that when they do, they think of you.
Here are a few ways to do just that:
Create a local business profile using Google My Business: Be sure to get a local business profile listing on Google. Your Google business profile helps your SEO tremendously and overall helps you get found and manage how your business appears on searches, maps, local listings and more.
With a Google business listing, you can upload pictures, videos, menus, product information, store hours and much more, allowing customers to quickly learn what they want to know about your business.
Create compelling content: “Content marketing” is the process of creating engaging content that includes embedded links or other ways to find your business.
Start by creating compelling content, be it seasonal or not, that customers will want to read, watch, or listen to. It could be a blog, an interesting article, a fun video, a podcast, an infographic, or something else altogether. Then, inside that content, you can embed a mention of your business with a link to your site, or your seasonal menu, your holiday hours, your address, and phone number, and more.
Advertise: When someone does an online search, they expect information NOW. Get them to notice you at that moment through Google Search Words or Google Ads.
Your ad could mention your cool content, or your big holiday sale, or it could simply get people to know who you are, what you do, and why your business is special.
And remember, Google isn’t the only ad game in town. Ads on Facebook work great. TikTok ads are trending for a reason. You could also advertise on other sites, in e-newsletters, or on popular podcasts. The options are endless.
Ramp up your social media: Be sure that your social media pages are visually engaging and entertaining, and make sure to prominently display your contact information. Post fun holiday content. Engage with visitors. Comment, and then comment on comments. Include top small business hashtags like #shopsmall, #shoplocal, and #smallbusiness on your posts to increase your exposure to users.
Have an event: Host a virtual holiday party for your customers. Do a Facebook Live event. Or create a holiday contest.
The point is this: During the holiday season people are ready to spend money and they are looking for places to spend it. With a little planning and effort, you can increase the chances that they will spend that money with you.