When we surveyed consumers in 2013, more than 70% of them claimed to support small business. And yet, just 7% of these fans said they always shopped local. A full 75% of people who claimed small business love actually shopped at big stores instead.
Start turning things around during this year’s Small Business Saturday®.
To help you prepare for this annual event, which we’re supporting for the first time in 2015, we’ve compiled 5 tips you can use to promote your small business and set yourself up for success—on Small Business Saturday and beyond.
1. Remember your value
A full 61% of small business owners surveyed last year expected growth within the next 12 months. Clearly, small businesses are succeeding overall. But (obviously) some days are better than others, especially during the holiday season. Cranky customers and long lines could zap your confidence.
Push through challenging days with a reminder of your company’s personal and communal worth.
Small business owners just like you do a great deal to support community success. You add revenue to local tax rolls, you provide needed jobs for other people in your community, and you give back by supporting charitable organizations close to home. Your work is necessary to keep your neighborhood alive.
And, your work feeds your soul. Your business sprang from your ideas and your sweat. Your innovation brought this company to life. You are your own boss, and you’re doing what you love. It’s a lot to be proud of, even on tough days.
2. Know your customers
Want to know what your customers really want when they walk into your shop? Ask them. Deep knowledge of your market means better products, better service and a better experience for the people that really matter: Your customers.
Use online surveys to identify customer pain points. Problems with store layout, snarky service, or slow checkout might move to the top of your to-do list when you really see how much they bother your customers.
Ask about the products and services you provide, and see what option is the most popular with the customers you serve. Spot hidden gems in your product lineup, and seek out the items ripe for a profit-boosting price hike.
Also, utilize the information customers provide in online reviews. While 58% of customers use online reviews when making purchase decisions, but only 33% of businesses take reviews seriously when they’re evaluating customer feedback.
Scour those review sites, and parse the data your customers provide so freely. Solve the problems you can solve, and put those sticky issues on your post-holiday brainstorming list. And remember to apologize for major mistakes. Professionalism, served up with a touch of humility, dampens the impact of a particularly dire review.
3. Face your fears (with help from your friends)
A dollop of fear can keep you from taking ill-advised business risks. But that same nervousness could keep your business from innovating, growing, and succeeding. Walk past worry with data.
Use surveys to test a new idea before you launch it. Pop a new website design, a new product, or new packaging in front of your fans and reduce the chance of failure. Translate key feedback into a business pivot, and ensure you’re really ready to change.
Struggling with a different sort of issue? You’re not alone. 34% of small business owners struggle with rising employment costs. And 37% struggle with issues involving competitive pricing. These are late-night, keep-you-up-with-worry concerns. Don’t solve them alone.
Turn to your professional fan base. Team up with a mentor and brainstorm solutions. Chat up your college professors for new insights and solutions. Reach out to your community’s shining stars for inspiration.
Still stuck? Consider hiring someone to solve the problem that’s plaguing you. A smart corporate addition could wipe that worry away, so you can focus on other important goals.
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4. Use data to go viral
People could walk by your store because they don’t know it’s there. In fact, a full 35% of consumers said there weren’t enough local shopping options near them. Yet, 43% of those consumers had a local store less than 1 mile from their front doors.
Boost your visibility with a viral marketing campaign. Data can make it happen. Survey your customers and tease out key data points. Identify the websites they visit, the content they can’t live without and the emotions make them reach for their wallets. Use those metrics in your next advertising campaign for viral success.
When the campaign is through, use another survey to dive deep into the impact. Then, use that data to refine your next campaign for even more success.
5. Make the most of Small Business Saturday
In 2014, an estimated $14.3 billion1 was spent at small businesses on Small Business Saturday. Get a chunk of that action with free downloadable marketing materials. American Express provides event guides, downloadable signs, save-the-date cards, drafts of social media posts and Shop Small® logos you can use, at no charge, to build excitement—all available at ShopSmall.com.
Help attract customers to your shop with Small Business Saturday signs and banners, and entice them to visit the other small shops in your community.
Finally, remember to encourage your friends and family members to support small businesses, including yours. Don’t have a small business? Spend local this Saturday, November 28!
And when the dust has settled, use surveys to measure your success and plan for Small Business Saturday 2016.
Share these 5 key tips with the small business owners you know and love. Don’t forget to participate in #SmallBizSat, and remind those you know and love to #ShopSmall!
1 The statistic cited was based on the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey conducted in 2014. The 2014 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey was conducted amount a nationally representative sample of 2,682 males and females 18 years of age or older. That sample was collected using an email invitation and an online survey. The 2014 survey was conducted anonymously by independent marketing performance specialist Ebiquity on November 30, 2014, and has an overall margin of error of +/- 1.9%, at the 95% level of confidence. Please note that due to a change in research vendors we’ve made an adjustment in our research methodology for this survey. The new methodology includes more survey participants and a spending extrapolation based on average consumer expenditure.