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, 112 million people shopped at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, a 13 percent increase year over year.
Millennials, those born between 1982–2004, are the largest demographic expected to shop at independent businesses on Small Business Saturday according to SalesFuel. 38% percent of millennials shoppers say they trust small businesses more than large businesses. If you aren’t targeting this demographic during holiday shopping season you should be planning to now.
Here are some tips on how your business can get involved with Small Business Saturday or amp up your efforts this year.
Offer free Wi-Fi and perks
Offer in-store free Wi-Fi and a loyalty program. A survey from eMarketer showed that 69% of millennials said they would most likely use in-store Wi-Fi to enroll in or access a loyalty program and its perks. Small Business Saturday is the perfect way to launch your loyalty rewards program. According to smallbiztrends.com, 75 % of millennials are also more likely to shop with a brand who has a loyalty program than a brand without one. Offer an exclusive discount to customers who register that Saturday. Loyalty programs are a great opportunity to increase engagement with new and old customers.
Connect with local bloggers and influencers. If you have a Small Business Saturday-themed offer, it is too late to share it with a long-lead magazine or newspaper, but there is still time to be featured by bloggers and other influencers. Ask if they are doing a “Holiday Gift Guide.” Reach out with a free sample in exchange for exposure. Ask 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 to announce your Small Business Saturday in-store event. 35 million people view Facebook events daily. This 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 like a prize or discount can help draw people to your business. on Small Business Saturday, so this is a great opportunity to tap into the existing behavior.
Feed people (to drive store traffic!)
Busy shoppers love snacks and samples. Hand out cookies or beverages to energize the crowd. If you’re located in a mall or shopping area, have employees outside giving away free samples of relevant products.
Consider extending hours
Depending on when you typically close on the weekends during the holiday season, you may want to consider extending your hours. For example, if you usually close up shop at 6 p.m., consider staying open until 8 or 9 p.m. Speak with local business owners so you can be sure to be open if your neighbors 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
Host a #shopsmall block party. Partner with neighboring and complementary businesses to promote each other by sharing cards, brochures, and flyers at your location. You can also put each other’s coupons or discounts in customers’ shopping bags. American Express has a resource that allows you to do a geographic search for businesses in your area, as well.
Give extras with each purchase
Offer gifts with purchase that make great stocking stuffers may encourage customers to buy. You can also give away good-quality tissue paper or ribbons for gift-wrapping.
Say Thank You
Millennials are the most digitally connected generation. Send a thank you email with a coupon to customers who purchased something from your business during Small Business Saturday. This will give them an opportunity to purchase something from your store at a later date.
Engagement with millennials doesn’t have stop after Small Business Saturday, here are a few additional ways to make your business shine this holiday season.
Be unique and let your creativity flow
Millennials love personalized, relevant connections. Ask shoppers who purchase something from your small business on Saturday to take a photo outside of your business and post it on social media saying, “I just picked up XYZ from my favorite local business #shopsmall”. Each customer that tags your business will be entered 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 this Small Business Saturday? Share your plans with us in the comments below.