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A small business can’t compete head-on with the big box stores. But, like David facing Goliath—if you play the game on your own terms, you can score a victory. For small business owners, the opening gambit for a successful holiday season is Small Business Saturday on November 26, 2016.
Mega-stores own Black Friday. These national chains can offer deep discounts on selected items because they can offset those losses with other merchandise and they can leverage quantity buying to keep their costs low. Let’s face it, small, local businesses can’t win on price and volume purchasing.
However, that doesn’t mean that a local business can’t have a successful holiday season. You just need to use a different strategy—one that capitalizes on what small businesses do best. Instead of competing on price, focus on providing the highest level of customer service and offering unique products, based upon your knowledge of your customers and your community.
Small Business Saturday is the perfect opportunity to showcase what makes your business special. Started six years ago, Small Business Saturday is rapidly gaining momentum as the day small businesses can shine. According to the 2015 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express, 95 million people opted to "Shop Small" at independent retailers and restaurants during Small Business Saturday 2015, up 8 percent from the previous year. And, the day generated spending of $16.2 billion, an impressive 14 percent increase from the 2014 amount.
Although Small Business Saturday is a promotion of American Express, you do not have to accept the American Express card to participate in the promotions and publicity. The Small Business Saturday website offers a variety of marketing tools that you can personalize to help you get your message out to your community. These resources include:
Now that you know where to go to get Small Business Saturday promotional materials, let’s consider three steps you should take to have a successful holiday season in 2016.
Even if no one gets trampled when they fling open the doors at the mega-store near you, the Black Friday shopping experience can be traumatic. The experience probably involves long lines, limited quantities and jockeying for position to score one or two items.
Take the opposite tactic. Make shopping pleasant for your customers. Not only will you reap some of the holiday spending, satisfied customers are year-round customers. Try one of these ideas.
Know what makes your business unique. Look for ways that you can provide exemplary service or a unique product.
One of the advantages to operating locally is that you can use a variety of cost-effective strategies to inform customers (and potential customers) of your holiday promotions. Social media can be a small business’s best friend and email campaigns for a local business can also be very successful. Here are a few pointers:
The small business owner is part of a community in a way that large-scale chains are not. Tap into this—especially during the holiday season. Partner with nearby businesses to create paired discounts or holiday promotions. Participate in any holiday events offered by your area's Chamber of Commerce or merchants' association. While there might not be enough time to develop a unified Small Business Saturday event, there is still time to play joint activities throughout the holiday shopping season using suggestions suggestions found on the Small Business Website and creating events unique to your community.
By focusing on the value a small business can deliver, rather than on price and quantity, you will be able to have a strong holiday season
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