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November 27, 2013

Small Business Saturday

American Express shop small
American Express - Shop Small

As preparation begins for Thanksgiving, the “official” kick-off of the holiday season, you may have more than Turkey and trimmings on your mind. Chances are, you’re equally focused on holiday shopping and making sure you find the perfect gift for each person on your list. Black Friday – the day following Thanksgiving during which big retailers roll out massive savings to lines of die-hard fans who waited through the night in frigid temperatures – probably ranks just as high as the actual holidays do as part of your planning process.

What if there was another option? A way to find the perfect gifts for this holiday season, with a personal touch? A way to give back to your community and to those who comprise it, without the frustration of fighting your way through the door or the fear of being trampled as you make your attempt? There is. Introducing Small Business Saturday.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Started by the United States Small Business Administration in 2010 and sponsored by American Express, Small Business Saturday takes place on the Saturday following Thanksgiving; this year it’s Nov. 30. The event encourages Americans to celebrate and support small businesses and what they do for their communities by shopping at locally-owned small businesses.

The statistics from the past several years are eye-opening and encouraging. On Small Business Saturday last year:

  • An estimated 103 million Americans took part last year by purchasing items or services from local small businesses.
  • According to American Express, card-member transactions increased by about 23 percent for small business merchants.
  • Public awareness rose to around 65 percent.
  • $5.5 billion was spent on small business purchases and transactions.

With proven success in the past and an expected growth in participation for 2013, if Small Business Saturday is not a tradition for your family, or at least on your radar for this year, it probably should be.

Getting Involved as a Customer

One of the best ways to support Small Business Saturday is to become a part of the movement by making the commitment to shop at small businesses on Nov. 30. While supporting local business should be a priority all year, doing so on Small Business Saturday is a way to raise awareness, which could carry over throughout the year.

A few more ideas include:

Joining a Neighborhood Circle: Created by American Express, Open Forum members have access to neighborhood circles, or, groups of community members that make an effort to work together to make Small Business Saturday a success in their areas.

Become a Neighborhood Champion: Make your support for Small Business Saturday official. By becoming a Neighborhood Circle Neighborhood Champion, you’ll be able to keep your circle informed of the events surrounding the day, to coordinate with local business owners and to be personally involved in encouraging others to become involved on Nov. 30.

Become Involved Without Becoming Involved: Committees and meetings not your thing? No problem. You can still support local small businesses on Small Business Saturday. Bring the date up in your conversations with friends and family, there’s a chance they have not heard of the movement. Create fliers, talk with local business owners to see if they have any specials planned for the day and offer to spread the word.

While the ways to become involved in Small Business Saturday as a consumer are endless, what is important is that you find a way to become involved…to support important businesses who have traditionally been forgotten when the rush of the holiday season begins. Do what you can to give back.

Getting Involved as a Business Owner

While the idea of having a business boom on Small Business Saturday may be an exciting, year-making prospect, there are ways that you can encourage success while supporting your community on Small Business Saturday.

Below are a few ideas:

Publicize the Event:If even your most loyal customers do not know about Small Business Saturday, they may not have a reason to visit your business on Nov. 30 and could miss an event they’d love to be a part of. Post fliers and spread the word on your marketing pieces. Be sure each customer that walks through your door in the days leading up to the event are aware of its importance.

Create a Personalized Marketing Campaign: The term “marketing campaign” may sound intimidating and expensive. However, it doesn’t have to be that way; you don’t have to go at it alone. Resources are available online that can be easily personalized to spread the word.

Offer Deals and Incentives: Give your customers a reason to do business with you on Small Business Saturday while thanking them for their loyalty. Offer special deals and incentives. Make a play on the date by offering 11 percent or 30 percent off certain items (for 11/30). Host an early bird sale where anyone who shops before a certain time, or the first 100 customers receive a deal that they just can’t pass up on. Support a local band while offering live music to your customers. Hold a contest, offer food — the possibilities are endless. Whatever you decide, make the event memorable and enjoyable for anyone who participates.

Work with Other Small Businesses: Contact other small business owners in your area to make the day more of a celebration. Post signs, hand out fliers and send out e-mails to your customer lists to be sure no one wants to miss the opportunity to participate in a local, fun-for-everyone event.

Whether you’re a business owner or a customer, Small Business Saturday is a chance to give back to the people who support you on a regular basis. Think of ways to get involved and start planning, Nov. 30 is just around the corner.


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Adrienne Erin is an Internet marketer with York Web Design. Follow her on Twitter at @adrienneerin.

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