Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday: The upcoming kickoff to the shopping season is a blockbuster combination of holiday sales events that have the potential to drive big sales in little shops. A Yelp survey found that 8 in 10 people plan to do their holiday shopping at local businesses, and over 40% will start before Thanksgiving.

The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, is reputed for being the day throngs of bargain hunters descend on the big box stores for deep discounts. Yet, Yelp’s data indicates more people are turning to small shops instead.

Either way, the day after Black Friday is all about supporting local businesses. American Express rallies a major marketing campaign around Small Business Saturday—November 28th this year—and makes it easy for merchants to participate.

On Cyber Monday, you don’t have to be an e-commerce-only retailer to benefit from the bustling online traffic. Some savvy social media marketing can go a long way toward bringing visitors to your website and ultimately into your store.

Here are some specific ways you can get ready now to take advantage of the much-hyped about long shopping weekend:

  • Start now by telling your regular customers about Small Business Saturday. Offer coupons they can pass along to friends and consider the one day only promotion.  To drive more store traffic, consider hosting an event at your store. Last year shoppers spent $14.3 billion that day.
  • Visit the American Express Shop Small website to create free customized signage, postcards, and a banner ad to share on social media. If you missed the deadline for inclusion on the #SmallBizSat online map, but it takes a matter of seconds to design and download materials that you can share, mail, and put in your window to promote yourself and other local businesses.
  • Use hashtags including the official #SmallBizSat as well as #ShopSmall and #ShopLocal in all of your social media posts at this time of year to join in conversations about supporting small businesses. Share Twitter and Facebook photos of products you’ll feature in-store on Small Business Saturday to build excitement and bring in buyers.
  • Check with your town’s Chamber of Commerce or local business groups to find out if you can partake in organized holiday shopping events or cross- promotions in your community.
  • Partner with other local businesses to create excitement about shopping in your community. In Portland, Oregon, for instance, local artisans and small businesses team up each year for Little Boxes, a campaign to promote shopping local instead of in big box stores on Black Friday as well as Small Business Saturday. A Little Boxes app lets shoppers win raffle points and discounts for every participating store they visit.
  • Create deals and promotions through a local business listing service such as Yelp or Foursquare to encourage foot traffic to your store. Yelp’s research says 60 percent of shoppers this season are looking for experience-based gifts, such as gift certificates for dinner, massage, or theatre. Offer free gift wrapping or hot chocolate on Small Business Saturday.
  • Prepare for Cyber Monday by making sure the inventory, contact information, pricing, and delivery turnaround promises presented on your website are up to date. If you’ve had problems with high traffic volumes crashing your site in the past, now is the time to call your web-hosting provider. Even if you don’t sell merchandise online, you can offer gift certificates and gift cards via your website.


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