By Pat Sisneros
Special to The (Everett) Herald Business Journal
Have you noticed the commercials advertising Small Business Saturday on Nov. 29?
In 2010, American Express founded a national day for small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This is a day when people are encouraged to shop at their local small businesses.
Of course, the cynic in me asks, why isn’t everyday a small business day? Why only one day out of 365?
On the other hand, in the American tradition of a national day for this or a national day for that, why not have a special day to celebrate small businesses across the country? Maybe American Express has stumbled onto a great idea, given that small enterprises are the main drivers of job creation and innovation.
My suggestion for small businesses is to see Small Business Saturday as an opportunity and take advantage of the publicity from the American Express’ national advertising campaign.
Chances are you’ll see a few more new and returning customers on Nov. 29 after they’ve had their fill doing battle shopping at the big box stores on Black Friday.
Consider doing the following on the 29th:
Give a special thank you to your customers for shopping on Small Business Saturday and all year round. For the folks coming through your doors, that day could have been spent shopping at the mall or on the computer with large online retailers. Let them know how much you appreciate their support of your small business that day and all year round.
Make sure you are visible by wandering through the store so you can interact with and thank as many customers as possible.
Share the “whys” about your business. Share why your company is better than the bigger stores. Share the story of why you started your business. Share why you love the company you are building and the ideas driving it. Share how and why you invest back into the community. Use those conversations with customers to share not only how you have invested in the local community, but also why this investment is significant to you.
Ask your customers how your business can help improve the community.
Make it easy for gifts to be returned after the holiday season. No business likes returns. However, make it easy for the gifts your customers are purchasing to be returned. There is nothing more frustrating than to have to jump through hoops to return or exchange an item. Explain your policy at the time of purchase.
Take advantage of the free promotional tools on the American Express Small Business Saturday website. There are a number of free promotional tools provided by American Express including digital banners, signage and online ads. You can check out the options available at the link below: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-small/
At a minimum, register your business on the Small Business Saturday website. Highlight your participation on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Make the day an event for both employees and customers. Make the day fun! Be sure your store has a festive, holiday appearance.
Brainstorm ideas with your employees on how to best showcase the business that day.
Consider holding a raffle for an item in your store to be given away at the end of the day for both your customers and employees. At the end of the day, remember that most people would prefer the personal connection with a local business and its owner to the sterile relationship with a large faceless corporation, even if your product or service costs a bit more.
Make it an easy decision for them to make the switch.
Pat Sisneros is the Vice President of College Services at Everett Community College. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.