In 2013, consumers in support of Small Business Saturday spent an estimated $5.7 billion at local merchants that day. Can SMBs up the ante this year?
The answer is yes, but before we dive into the “why”, let’s talk background on Small Business Saturday. In 2010, American Express introduced the inaugural Small Business Saturday, designed to encourage communities to shop local and ultimately to facilitate customer acquisition for small businesses. The plan worked and now it’s a huge deal, bringing added revenue to independent merchants nationwide each Saturday following Thanksgiving.
This year’s big day is November 29th and AmEx’s goal is to make it the biggest SBS to date. They’re offering free marketing materials (digital banners, signage, and sample email templates included) and a chance to be included on the Shop Small Map, all helping customers find the local businesses they need. And to motivate local consumers, American Express will give $10 back for every $10 spent (up to 3 times). Shoppers can get a $30 reimbursement by shopping locally.
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But are free marketing handouts and consumer rebates enough to help small businesses sell next Saturday? Will they surpass that $5.7 billion goal? According to recent research by G/O Digital, it’s likely.
Sixty-five percent of consumers surveyed plan to do 75% of their holiday shopping in-store at local businesses. Respondents noted local merchandise and customer service are far better at small retailers, and 22% prefer their affordable prices. Furthermore, 37% of shoppers simply want to support the local economy. All you small business owners just threw up a fist-pump, but before you get too excited, make sure your ducks are in a row.
While those predictions are promising, 84% said they would first check online channels before heading to purchase in-store. This means if you don’t have your online marketing strategies dialed in, you could be overlooked in the search for the perfect holiday gift. 73% of those online scouters will use Google to research various gifts from local retailers and 36% will hunt down specific businesses.
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In addition to polishing your website and SEO strategies, utilize the heck out of social media. American Express recently featured a success story from last year’s event. Katie Katz and her husband create and vend fine art glass at their Philadelphia-based store, Bernard Katz Glass. Their secret to Small Business Saturday triumph? Social media.
The duo were able to attract local consumers by using hashtags, specifically #smallbizsat, #SBS, and #smallbizsatus. “People who shop more on Small Business Saturday are looking for small businesses,” Katie explained to American Express, “They will search on these hashtags to find something local, something handmade.”
So there you have it. That $5.7 billion target is feasible this year, which is good news for small business owners. The consumers are buying local, the community supports your business, and AmEx is helping you prepare your marketing assets. Get your social media and online marketing strategies refined, and you’ll be set to rock next Saturday.
The only thing you need to worry about is the 1% of consumers who stated they won’t be purchasing any holiday gifts locally this year. But who needs a Scrooge stopping by the shop anyway?