What began as an American Express initiative to encourage shopping small and local has grown into an integral part of the holiday shopping season.
In 2016, £717m was spent at small businesses in the UK on Small Business Saturday. For this year’s event, taking place on 2 December, millennials are likely to be big supporters.
Millennials, those born roughly between 1981 and 2001 – the date range differs slightly depending on who you speak to – are one of the groups that are expected to shop at small and independent business on Small Business Saturday. Why? Because they are big fans of small businesses.
If you aren’t targeting this demographic in the run up to Christmas, which includes Black Friday, Cyber Monday and any other pre-Xmas promotions, you should be planning to now.
Here are some tips on how your business can get involved with Small Business Saturday and ramp up your efforts this year.
Offer free wi-fi and loyalty schemes
Offer in-store free wi-fi and a loyalty scheme. A survey from eMarketer showed that 69% of millennials said they would most likely use in-store wi-fi to enrol in or access a loyalty scheme and its perks. Small Business Saturday is the perfect way to launch your loyalty scheme.
According to an article on smallbiztrends.com, 75% of millennials are also more likely to shop with a brand that has a loyalty scheme than a brand without one. Try offering an exclusive discount to customers who register on Small Business Saturday. Loyalty schemes are a great opportunity to increase engagement with potential and existing customers.
Connect with local bloggers and influencers
If you have a Small Business Saturday-themed offer, there’s still time to be featured by bloggers and other influencers. Ask if they are doing a holiday gift guide and reach out with a free sample in exchange for exposure.
It’s also worth asking if they are interested in free services. This can be highly valuable and get the word out about your Small Business Saturday offers. You can even invite them to show up on site for additional exposure.
Create an event on Facebook
Use it to announce your Small Business Saturday in-store event. Using Facebook is a great way to meet your customers where they are and invite them to your store.
Launch a social media contest
Contests on Facebook and Twitter are an easy and popular way to engage with and encourage customers. A fun hashtag and incentives such as a prize or discount can help draw people to your business on Small Business Saturday.
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.
Offer snacks and samples
Busy shoppers love snacks and samples. Hand out cookies or beverages to attract customers. No matter whether you’re located in a shopping centre or on the high street, get your employees to give away free samples of relevant products.
Consider extending your opening hours
Depending on when you typically close, you may want to consider extending your hours. If your shop usually closes at 6pm, consider staying open until 8pm. Speak with local business owners so you can be sure to be open if your neighbours are increasing traffic to the area. Be sure to communicate the hours via store signage, social media, email, website and your phone message.
Cross-promote with other businesses
Partner with neighbouring and complementary businesses to promote each other by sharing cards, brochures and flyers at your store. You can also put each other’s coupons or discounts in customers’ shopping bags.
Give extras with each purchase
Offering gifts with purchases that make great stocking fillers may encourage customers to buy. You can also give away wrapping paper or ribbons for gift wrapping.
Say thank you
Millennials are the most digitally connected generation. Send a thank you email with a voucher to customers who purchased something from your business during Small Business Saturday. This will give them an opportunity to return and buy something from your store at a later date.
Be unique and let your creativity flow
Millennials love personalised, relevant connections. Ask shoppers who purchase something from you on Small Business Saturday to take a photo outside of your business and post it on social media, with a post saying something along the lines of: “I just picked up XYZ from my favourite local business #shopsmall.”
You could enter each customer who tags your business into a raffle to win a special gift. This also allows you to make a long-term connection with them by following and conversing on social media.
Do you have plans to target millennials on Small Business Saturday? Share your plans with us in the comments below.