It’s wedged between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a day set aside by American Express to encourage people to shop locally.
If you own a brick and mortar business, you have opportunities galore to promote Small Business Saturday for free. This year’s it’s celebrated on Nov. 24.
Here are seven of my favorite ideas:
1. Create a “husband only” or “wife only” shopping day on Nov. 24. Email each spouse a list of what the other one wants.
Thanks to Mariah Smith of Mississippi State University for this idea. She says: “When it comes to shopping for the men in my life, I know it should come with shotgun shells or be electronic or camouflage. If I got an email from the local sporting goods store with a list of their desired items, I would be thrilled.” She has more tips on how to use technology to promote Small Business Saturday.
2. Contact your local weekly newspaper and offer to be part of a preview story.
Local news is a weekly newspaper’s bread and butter. Contact the editor with news, photos or videos about what you’ll be doing at your store, and any special promotions. Take lots of photos and video and offer those, too, after the event.
Reluctant to pitch because the weekly has already covered you? Don’t be! Many of these papers aren’t shy about featuring small business owners several times. A North Carolina home staging expert has gotten into her local weekly multiple times. Read how she did it in my article “Brand Your Small Business with a Gusher of Local Publicity.”
3. Plan an event.
It doesn’t have to be grandiose or fancy. Consider things like a food festival to celebrate local dining establishments and get a taste of the town. Or plan a pop-up event, a one-stop shopping event in which online stores and local shops connect with customers in one location. Your own marketplace can be a rented space or a few booths outside a local storefront. Get a free event guide to help you promote this. It includes sample Facebook and Instagram posts and cover photos, sample tweets, posters and customer invites. Find it in the “Plan an event” section here at the American Express website.
4. Publicize a special event at your business, and let the local TV stations know.
Cooking classes, dog obedience training, art lessons for the kids, and fashion shows are the kinds of events TV loves because they include three critical elements: people, color and motion. (For pitching tips, see How to Get on the Local TV News Tomorrow.)
5. Ask your customers to help you promote.
Encourage them to spread the word to their friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media.
6. Announce your special sales to your email list.
AWeber, the company I use to send my ezine, “The Publicity Hound’s Tips of the Week,” suggests that idea, and many more, in this very helpful Action Plan for Small Business Saturday.
7. Take advantage of all the promotional materials and tips from American Express.
You’ll find posters, banners and other materials in English and Spanish, in addition to ready-made messages to share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
BONUS TIP: Authors, do you sell your books at local stores and other retail outlets? If so, volunteer to work at the store on Small Business Saturday. It’s a great way to meet potential readers, shake lots of hands and sell more books.