Avoid These 4 Small Business Saturday Shop Small Retail Mistakes

By Bob Phibbs

small business saturday retail 2014

Small Business Saturday is November 30, 2019.

While the day prior - Black Friday - is big chains’ day, Saturday is the day for independents to amp up their volume.

It is your chance to gain exposure to your neighborhood shoppers.  For that reason, you want to make the day memorable for them.

And that doesn’t revolve around a discount.


A discount does nothing to build your reputation as a retailer, and it doesn’t give your shoppers a reason to go out of their way to visit you.

A discount is not memorable.

A discount is not remarkable.

Just offering discounts is Mistake Number One.

What is remarkable?

For one thing, you need to make your street a shopping destination. The power that can drive your Small Business event is the word community. 

Now is the time to join forces with other local businesses, so you can generate more awareness of this huge shop small day and your events happening around it.

And those businesses don’t all have to be retailers on your street… 

Why not contact your local hardware or lumber center and a local design firm and have them build your shopping community a Selfie station.  Your Selfie station could be a booth covered with awesome graphics that make passersby have to stop and take a photo to share on their social media sites.

A bonus would be getting someone to donate the use of a big monitor that shows all the tweets/pics of your Selfie station in real time.

Mistake Number Two that many make on this special day is to assume customers will just get it and show up.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you want the day to be a success, you need to promote it a couple of weeks before through your email list and a press release to your local media.

Then release these four social media updates (remember these should be written and scheduled ahead of time):

·      Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday and we’ll be open 10-8pm. We would love to have you visit to show the power of shopping local.

·      Friends don’t let friends go to the mall today, Small Business Saturday. We’re open until 8pm!

·      What did you buy this morning at our great local retailers on Small Business Saturday?

·      There’s still time to visit during Small Business Saturday. We’re here until 8pm.

Mistake Number Three is not telling your crew why this is an important day. Be sure to tell them this is a chance to gain new shoppers for the coming holiday and the coming year.

That means you have to step up your service levels on that busy Saturday to give customers something to rave about. Go beyond just saying, “Hi” and “What can we help you with?”

Go beyond events
A lot of merchants hold special events. Octavia Books in New Orleans, plans to have several well-known local authors come into the store and read their favorite children and adult books. Last year they had over 100 people attend.

That builds on itself so each year customers look forward to coming back.

That is the magic of customer loyalty.

Encourage everyone who visits your store that day to check-in on Facebook or Yelp.

And when customers checkout, encourage them to sign up for your email list and to follow you on social media.

This is a golden day when millions of dollars will be spread across media promoting shopping local. And while you can proudly say that you don’t take American Express – which I think is not wise as I’ve said here before – the reality is AMEX has made this day.  

You can hitch your business to this branded shopping day and raise awareness of your local business for no money.

The Fourth and Final Mistake I see is retailers talking about the day only in terms of getting customers to buy. 

If you’ve read any of my materials about Millennials, you know they expect to see businesses doing more to make their community vibrant.

Join with your other retailers to pledge that x amount of purchases will be given to charity.

If you can’t get anyone in your town to join you, just do it on your own. If you are a sporting goods store, could you donate equipment to your local high school? 

If you’re a bookstore, choose a local charity that provides books for retirement homes or Head Start programs.

If you’re a shoe store, you can give shoes to a local homeless program.  

If you’re an outerwear store you can ask customers to join you to donate a coat to keep someone else warm, One Warm Coat  is a great resource for you.

You get the idea - the sky’s the limit.

This day is your chance to go beyond just shop local.  And checkout SBS's free marketing tools for retailers here

Download How To Talk To The Media About Small Business Saturday

In Sum

On this day, you have an opportunity to show the power of community. That’s really the missing piece to this Saturday.  

It isn’t just another day to give 10% off.

It isn’t about you getting more sales.

It is about you showing the power of a vibrant merchant community. 

That you’re not alone.

That your customers aren’t alone; they have allies like you doing good things too.

Do this and you’ll avoid the mistake of approaching this day with your hand out.

And if you are looking for how to talk to the media, this free template is available with registration. While I created it a few years ago, it is still valid.

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