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Make Small Business Saturday Last All Year Long

How to turn one-time shoppers into loyal customers.
November 24, 2011

It comes on what is typically the busiest shopping weekend of the year, sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On Small Business Saturday, small businesses like yours gear up once again to lure shoppers with great deals and creative promotions for this once-a-year event.

But how can you maintain the momentum of Small Business Saturday and convert those one-day walk-ins into loyal, year-round customers? Here are five suggestions:

1. Plan a special event

Make Small Business Saturday a special day for your customers by creating a theme that matches your business. If you own a book store, have a local author come in and sign copies of a new book. Consider partnering with a complementary business. For example, if you run a specialty cheese shop, partner with a neighboring wine store for a wine and cheese tasting. Or, if you offer cooking classes, partner with a local store that sells cookware to put together a holiday cooking party and offer a discount on your classes and all of the items used that day.

2. Make service a priority every day

If you can’t match the chain stores’ prices, counter with better service. Customers may shop at a store once because of a low price, but they often become repeat shoppers because of great customer service. Ensure that your employees are not only polite but knowledgeable about your products and sales. If customers ask where an item is, have your employees lead them to where it’s located and wait to see if they have other questions. Help busy moms and dads by creating a small kids’ play area, so parents can shop longer.

3. Support your community

By getting involved in community projects, you not only help your neighbors but also help your business through free advertising. Create a flier for Small Business Saturday and help spread the word about why buying small and local is good for the community. Support fundraisers by donating goods and services or share your expertise and experience through your local Chamber of Commerce. Practice what you preach and support other small businesses in your area. Building a relationship with these businesses can create a wider net for word-of-mouth advertising and provide a platform to learn and share best practices. If space allows, share local advertising such as pamphlets, fliers, posters and business cards on bulletin boards, windows or countertops in your store.

4. Get social

One advantage of being local is that it’s easier to stay close to your customers, not only face to face but also through social media. Use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to advertise flash sales, last-minute deals and other time-sensitive offers. If your customers are more traditional, e-mail alerts can be equally effective. Find ways to ask satisfied customers to post a review on one of the review sites, such as Yelp or Citysearch. Get your employees involved with your social media efforts. By letting them blog and post comments, customers can get a real feel for who they’re dealing with, and it helps spread out your workload. 

5. Convert opportunities into customers

Small Business Saturday can continue long after the close of business on that one day. Develop a plan to convert those customers who visit your store on Saturday into long-term customers by capturing their e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers and getting them to follow you through social media. Start a loyalty program and entice them to sign up with a discount or some other reward. This way, you create a connection that can evolve into an ongoing conversation.

Small businesses deserve our support throughout the year, and Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity for all of us to discover other local shops and businesses. For more tips, free tools and special offers to help promote your business, visit www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday.