Figures issued by American Express, which launched Small Business Saturday in 2010, suggest there’s a strong chance you visited a small independent retailer or restaurant at some point on November 28, 2015.
The credit card giant reported that more than 95 million American consumers (of an adult population of 245 million) shopped at local independent shops and restaurants that day, spending more than $16.2bn in the process – an 8% year-on-year increase in shoppers and 14% rise in revenue.
It's a small wonder Amex considered the day “a success.”
But why did it work out so well? It appears there were two key factors at play.
Publicity is a joint effort
While American Express certainly does its share of the work in publicizing Small Business Saturday, small business owners themselves must be proactive in getting the message out to prospective customers. Community leaders and local politicians play their part too, organizing special events or in other ways supporting the marketing efforts of local businesses.
Amex reported that 55% of American consumers were aware of Small Business Saturday in advance, the highest proportion yet. And fully two thirds of these consumers planned to spend $100 or more at small businesses on that day.
So, if you own a retail store, or you’re considering buying a retailer in the near future, what are your plans for exploiting this enormous opportunity?
There’s likely already an organized effort in your community to publicize the event that you can tap into. And if not, American Express offers help to small business owners who want to become SBS champions in their neighborhoods.
The #shopsmall movement is gaining momentum
The success of SBS can partly be attributed to a receptive audience. There’s a growing consumer movement that emphasizes the benefits – such as environmental credentials, the shopping experience and protecting the character and diversity of Main Street – of buying from local independents.
Led by the likes of the American Independent Business Alliance this wider fight-back against corporate power and big-box retailing has been building for years and is focused on changing spending habits in the long term. Business in places with Buy Local campaigns reported an average 9.3% increase in revenue in 2014.
Ultimately, harnessing this reservoir of goodwill towards small businesses rests on exploiting the perceptions of independent businesses that underpin it: providing a friendly, knowledgeable customer service and unique shopping experience as well as contributing positively to the community. (If groceries are your business then here’s how you can compete with big-box stores).
With the help of social media you can foster a more personal relationship with your customers than Walmart or Target could ever hope to attain, however much their marketing budget dwarf yours.
Without a doubt, Small Business Saturday has had a powerful impact on small businesses across the country. As the campaign grows we can expect SBS 2016 to be even bigger still.
If you own a small business, it’s a marketing opportunity you simply cannot miss, so now is the time to start preparing to ensure bumper sales on November 26, 2016.
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