Independent Retailers: How To Pitch Your Small Business Saturday Success To Reporters

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The 2012 Thanksgiving holiday weekend retail sales total increased 12.8 percent according to the National Retail Federation.

Yet in 2013, while brick and mortar retail still represent roughly 90% of total sales, you’ll hear mostly about holiday e-commerce sales rising over last year.

And you’ll hear practically nothing about independent retailers’ successes.

Don’t let them get away with that.

Plan now to leverage your participation and success in Small Business Saturday.

Here's How:

First, don’t be afraid to contact a local business reporter or blogger. Even if you are, plan to contact them anyway.

Before you ever pick up a phone and call a reporter, send a blogger an email or try to DM someone on Twitter about your success, get your pitch clear in your mind.

Keep it simple… and honest. American Express heavily promotes the shopping day but it’s what you did with your store that made it successful.

Find the figures from 2013 from the NRF from something like, “Retail sales rose over the four-day Black Friday sales period. Would you be interested in a local angle on the national story?”

Three ideas you could begin with:

  • Your increase in sales over the prior year and what led to it.
  • How you got people to shop in your store rather than online via social media.
  • How you and your brick and mortar retailers made themselves more approachable by coming together to promote and market.

Reporters and bloggers are going to be interested in how they can use you as an independent retailer example to help other local businesses. You need to pitch your success in a way that teaches other businesses a technique that worked for you that will work for them too.

Reporters and bloggers are going to love the personal success story to help other local businesses succeed.

Here’s what I’m talking about...from my Facebook fans...

Vicki Mandrell was one of fifty merchants in Sauk Valley, IL who pulled together to jointly promote Small Business Saturday. A post-event pitch might be, “Would you be interested in the lessons we learned on our way to getting 800 likes in a month on Facebook and the successes we enjoyed from doing that?”

John MacDougall had advertisements in their bags for two weeks prior to the holiday weekend. He also had several Facebook postings and an email blast at 7:30 am on Saturday. His sales were “about 2.5x last year.”

Think of how John could pitch that, “Nationally we're told, retail sales were up about 13% the past weekend; ours were up double. Would you be interested in the three things I learned any small business needs to do to effectively promote their business?” He might also give his top two posts on Facebook as examples.

Got the idea? You are helping the reporter come up with a story for their readers, not just saying how great you are.

Mary Koback Holmes reported that this year, “We were up by 20% over last year. No storewide sales were needed. There was genuine support for shopping small. We gained many new customers on this day and saw many of our loyal customers throughout the day. Love Small Business Saturday!”

Her pitch might include, “Would you be interested in an independent local retailer whose sales grew 20% even without discounting on Small Business Saturday?”

Mary Sisson got a story in her local business journal prior to SBS, put up American Express’ free poster on the door, put out the Small Business Saturday doormat...she promoted the works. She reports she was up 21% over last year's Small Business Saturday, and did about 150% of Black Friday's business. She lost her voice too, she added happily.

She could pitch, “Brick and mortar retail stores had significant sales increases. Would you be interested in how our local toy store did 150% of Black Friday’s business by partnering with American Express?”

Write out the following so you’re prepared:

(Smile so they hear it.) “Good day, this is (your name) from (your business) on (your street) (and if necessary your city) Are you on deadline or is this a good time?”

Always wait for them to tell you it is a good time.

Then give your pitch. Then tell your success story.

Relate why this is important to your local economy. Think JOBS. Economy is picking up. Hope.

If your story doesn't feel long enough, you can share some of the following...

If you can, give them another retailer who had similar results but maybe from a different angle.

Reporters love stats like this one, “According to a National Retail Federation survey, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday.” (Checkout more of their stats for some additional hard numbers.)

And if you want to include an expert quote, like from me – here you go. “'Small Business Saturday has presented independent retailers with a premium shopping event for local customers to seek them out. The incredible success of the event is testimony to the fact that brick and mortar retailers are alive and well – contrary to some naysayers,' said Bob Phibbs, CEO of the Retail Doctor.”