Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a holiday shopping opportunity you can't afford to ignore: Small Business Saturday.
Launched in 2010 and falling on November 27, the day of promotions is the highest-earning day of the year for one-third of small businesses, according to American Express's recent Shop Small Study. Sixty-seven percent of consumers surveyed prefer to seek out small businesses rather than larger retailers for holiday purchases. The types of purchases respondents said they were more likely to make from a small business include dining out at restaurants, jewelry, and books.
Ann Cantrell, founder of Brooklyn, New York-based Annie's Blue Ribbon General Store, which sells party supplies, gifts and home goods, has been participating in Small Business Saturday for more than a decade and sees strong demand every year.
"We have customers that come in at 10 am saying, 'I waited all week to come and shop on Small Business Saturday,'" Cantrell says.
Here are three strategies that small business owners plan to use to generate the most sales during this year's Small Business Saturday.
1. Offer freebies.
Promotions don't have to mean offering steep discounts across the board, especially since the day is about customers supporting a local retailer. Instead, Cantrell suggests considering freebies or games. "It's more about celebrating the business and the community rather than pushing sales," says Cantrell. In the past, her general store would do drawings every hour to give small freebies away. This year, she's giving away ornaments that have "I Love Local, Brooklyn, NY" printed on them.
This strategy has also worked for Jon Barretto, founder of San Francisco-based streetwear brand and boutique FullyLaced. Instead of a race to the bottom to compete on price, he includes a small gift with any purchase. "This way we retain our margin and give a little extra," he says.
2. Promote your story.
The time leading up to Small Business Saturday is one of the best times to share your personal story as a founder and that of the business, says Noah Bleich, co-founder of Los Angeles-based tea maker TeaBook. "It is way more powerful to say 'I work with my dad at our company' and show a picture than to say 'we are a small business.' People relate to people," Bleich says. With about 30 to 40 percent of his yearly revenue tied to holiday sales, he says he typically sees a 5 to 10 percent spike in sales on Small Business Saturday.
3. Focus on gaining repeat customers.
The goal is not necessarily to have a single day of booming sales, says Chris Ronzio, Inc.com columnist and founder and CEO of software maker Trainual. Instead, focus on providing a positive experience that will turn that shopper into a long-term customer.
"Maximize the day by being sure to collect information on anyone who interacts with your offer," Ronzio says, suggesting to get them on your newsletter or to give them a punch card. "Try to give them a reason to come back."