Since joining Sage, I’ve become excited about the potential of Small Business Saturday and this year is no exception.
It is the UK’s most successful small business campaign and has become an institution among Britain’s army of local enterprises.
On 2 December – Small Business Saturday – I’ll be heading down to my local high street with my family, encouraging them to shop local and not always online, so we can see what the local business owners who build our communities are getting up to.
Michelle Ovens is the national campaign director of Small Business Saturday UK. She’s passionate about the campaign’s positive impact on small businesses and is keen for even more people to get involved this year round.
According to Michelle, 80% of local councils support Small Business Saturday but still there are many small businesses who aren’t even aware of it. If you run your own business and want to take part this year but are struggling for ideas on what to do, here are five ways you can make the most of it.
1. Be discovered on the Small Business Finder
Continuing with the technology theme, Small Business Saturday has a fantastic tool on their website to help businesses get more exposure during the event.
The Small Business Finder allows shoppers to find local small businesses that are supporting the event just by typing in their postcode. There are hundreds of small businesses already signed up to the service, as it gives them another valuable way to be seen by their target audience: people who want to shop local.
The Small Business Finder is a free tool that any small business can sign up to and a great platform to promote your business to a brand new audience.
The business-savvy guide to seasonal selling
Discover important trading dates for your business – including new ways to help you take advantage of popular selling days throughout the year.
2. Publicise your brand
Roughly £717m was spent at small businesses across the UK during last year’s event. So this is a great opportunity for you to make some extra revenue and gain some new customers.
To get them through the door, entice them with a special offer during the day, or better yet, use the Small Business Saturday brand to your advantage.
Three years ago, a young illustrator named Emmeline Pidgen from Chorley partnered with her local bookshop on Small Business Saturday to sign copies of a book she had illustrated. She also organised a book reading and a workshop for children during the day.
The following year, Emmeline was featured in Small Biz 100, a list of 100 small businesses showcased throughout the year by Michelle and her team.
This is a great example of seizing an opportunity to publicise your brand and this year could be a wonderful time for you to do the same.
3. Shout out your business on social
Social media is an invaluable tool on Small Business Saturday, with the event routinely trending internationally on Twitter and featuring across Facebook.
“Use it as a way to talk to your community and find out what’s going on around you,” Michelle advised when I asked her about using social media.
Reuben Chesters, founder of Glasgow-based grocery store Locavore, is just one example of someone who’s benefited from this. Selected as one of 2015’s Small Biz 100, Reuben’s business immediately profited from the social media attention it was getting.
“It’s been really good profile for us already,” Reuben said to The Guardian. “We’ve received a lot of traffic from the [tweets sent out by the] Small Business Saturday account.”
Not only can you receive encouraging feedback from the public, you can also target local and friendly potential customers using social media.
Use hashtags on Twitter that relate your local area when tweeting about Small Business Saturday – that way you could attract more residents that are nearer to your small business. And don’t forget to leverage Facebook to reach out to people who may be interested in your business or Small Business Saturday.
Both Sage and Small Business Saturday are constantly using social media to champion Britain’s high-street heroes, so engaging with the event directly is advisable. Tweet Sage and Small Business Saturday directly using #SmallBizSatUK and #SageSaturday, and we can all celebrate the day together.
4. Collaborate with other small businesses in your community
Small Business Saturday is a time of celebration and co-operation between small businesses and customers, which is all the more reason for small businesses to work together on 2 December.
Help a fellow small business out by offering special deals that involve other businesses. For example, if you own a retail business, why not have a promotion where you give away vouchers for other small businesses if a customer spends a certain amount of money with you.
5. Celebrate the day… and beyond
Small Business Saturday is a year-round campaign that works tirelessly to promote our high streets and small business owners. It’s fantastic to celebrate the event on the day but there are events happening throughout the year that you can get involved in too.
Small Biz 100 showcases 100 local businesses across the UK in the run-up to the big day, while Michelle and her team take part in a nationwide bus tour every year to give small businesses more promotion.
The team also host the Inspire Series, a programme of free talks and workshops covering a whole range of topics to inspire and support start-ups or existing small businesses.
Take advantage of everything on offer so you can celebrate the power of small businesses 365 days a year.
What will your business be doing on Small Business Saturday? Let us know in the comments below.