As a small business owner, you already know splitting your focus in too many ways is a recipe for failure. Although wearing a lot of hats is part of the job, tackling one problem at a time is the best way to make real progress. So what do you do when three of the biggest shopping events of the year all occur in a few short days?
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday all offer the potential for high sales. Yet, shopping has become such a multichannel experience that’s it’s hard to pick one medium. Consider these factors when deciding where to devote the most resources:
- Your primary mode of business
- The strength of your small business community
- Local awareness about small businesses
- Local economy and buying power
Understand what each of these sales days has to offer, so you can prepare your business for success.
Competing for Black Friday sales
Black Friday is intimidating for many small businesses, as big brands dominate with steep discounts. But don’t assume you have nothing to offer Black Friday shoppers. The National Retail Federation estimated that 154 million people shopped during the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend. On Black Friday alone, roughly 46 million people shopped in stores and 68 million online.
Consumers are in a buying mood during the holidays, leading to more impulse purchases. Although you can’t compete solely on cost, you can tap into secondhand traffic in a busy area. If you live in a city with popular discount stores and high-end outlets, why not use the spike in traffic to boost sales?
As a small business, you have qualities that set you apart from big stores. Use your strongest selling points to provide an inviting experience for customers. For example, many customers feel exhausted after standing in line and fighting for Black Friday deals at packed stores. Welcome them into your store for hot cocoa or gingerbread while they watch a product demo.
Use the holiday season to showcase unique product offerings. Instead of discounting the items people can get anywhere, try putting your top niche products on sale. Create attractive bundles your customers can’t get any other time of year, and advertise well in advance.
Getting involved in Small Business Saturday
Keeping your doors closed on Black Friday may be the best choice when your products aren’t in high demand. After all, Small Business Saturday is the day for local entrepreneurs to shine. American Express launched it in 2010 to ignite support for small business owners within their communities. Seven years later, roughly 72 percent of consumers are aware of this growing event.
So, what is Small Business Saturday? It’s a commitment to support local economies by shopping at small businesses and encouraging others to do the same. In 2016, the event achieved record numbers with consumers spending $15.4 billion at local shops and restaurants.
Unsure if Small Business Saturday is right for you? Think about the dynamics of your community.
- Are local businesses thriving?
- Do you live in an economically strong community?
- Does your community have active business organizations with a high level of participation?
Answering “no” to these questions doesn’t mean you shouldn’t participate. Just be prepared to spend more time and effort promoting the event if awareness is low in your community. Fortunately, American Express offers promotional tools and tips to help businesses succeed. Consider these smart strategies for Small Business Saturday.
- Provide social proof: Show customers what their friends are doing to increase traffic. Combine word-of-mouth and social media marketing to remind customers about the event. The American Express survey reported 135 million social media engagements related to Small Business Saturday in 2016, compared to 85 million the previous year. Ask visitors to tag your business on social media when they visit or make a purchase. Seeing other families supporting the community can motivate shoppers to get involved.
- Host an event: The convenience and charm of connecting face to face is a major benefit of shopping locally. If you want customers to stop by and spread the word about your business, host an event at your store. Focus on giving thanks to customers during this time of year while showcasing new product releases.
- Support mobile integration: Brainstorm ways to make the shopping experience easier. Simple apps that allow customers to check an order status or organize wishlists can put you ahead of competitors.
Preparing online promotions for Cyber Monday
If you run an online business, there’s no need to choose between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Of course, mega-sites such as Amazon and Best Buy pull in huge portions of online traffic. Yet, the Internet exists to serve many different types of people. As a niche seller, you can rack up more sales by catering to a narrow audience.
Go through your customer data to identify buyers who spend big or often. Based on their shopping history, try coming up with tailored deals. If you have customers who like to try new things, offer discounts on a new product release.
You can even get creative and work with a loyal customer to create a detailed video review. In the weeks leading up to Cyber Monday, email the video link to customers who buy similar products.
If you sell products online and offline, you might be worried about inventory. One solution is to make your business stand out with flash sales. That way, you can focus on a few bestselling products at a time and keep up with orders. Another great draw is a “buy online, pick up in store” option. Many consumers want products right away, and they flock to businesses that can deliver last-minute orders fast.
Evaluate your resources and limitations
As long as you have the inventory and staff to handle a big weekend, there’s no reason you can’t do well on all three days. However, it’s just as important to give yourself room to breathe and enjoy the holidays. If you prefer to stick to one or two events, talk to your customers about their plans. Find out which days have the most potential, and narrow your focus.
No matter which route you choose, don’t wait until the last minute to promote your business. Customers have a lot of options during Thanksgiving weekend. Give them a compelling reason to pay attention to your business during this frantic time of year.
Need some extra branded products to promote your business during the shopping rush? Take a look at our promotional products to see how they can help.