Launched in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday is a reminder to Americans everywhere to go out and support the small businesses that they love. Falling each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday is a tonic to the corporatized chaos of Black Friday. Instead of emphasizing doorbuster deals and early morning business hours, Small Business Saturday honors homegrown businesses and the people who run them.

If you run a small business—particularly in the retail or food service space—then Small Business Saturday is a significant opportunity. This day gets a lot of exposure (not as much as Black Friday, but what does?) and generates considerable sales potential for independent brands. By capitalizing on Small Business Saturday and using it to promote your business, you could give yourself one of your best sales days of the year.

The question is, how do you prepare? Small Business Saturday itself—the holiday, the exposure, and the awareness—will mostly happen with or without you. If you want to get the most out of it, though, here are a few steps you should take.

Protect Yourself

The holidays can be a terrific and healthy time for businesses, but they also bring extra risks. Cyber criminals are very much aware of the fact that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and the entire Christmas season bring additional shopping and countless transactions. Hackers looking to get their hands on credit card numbers and other sensitive customer information will often choose this time to act. Such was the case with the now-infamous 2013 Target breach when hackers stole 40 million customer credit card numbers between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

To avoid this type of catastrophe, make cybersecurity a part of your preparations for Small Business Saturday this year. Protect your computer systems with sophisticated firewall and antivirus software. Train your employees to recognize phishing emails. Make sure your payment card readers are up-to-date and functioning properly. Perhaps most importantly, look into cyber insurance if you don’t have it already. If your business is the victim of a hack or data breach, cyber insurance may protect you from the costs of notifying your customers to your related legal expenses.

Decide on your promotions

No one expects Small Business Saturday to yield the same deals and discounts that Black Friday does. It’s more about supporting communities and local business owners. Still, you’ll get better traffic if you have a few attractive promotions. Look at your product inventory and figure out where you can slash prices. If you can’t afford to give discounts, think about handing out cheap complimentary items to visitors, or offering fun family-friendly activities. Whatever you do, make sure you decide on your promotions early. You’ll need to know them as you promote your Small Business Saturday efforts.

Hit social media

In the weeks and days leading up to Small Business Saturday, be sure to make plenty of noise. Posts on Facebook can let your existing customers know what’s going on, while posts on Twitter (preferably with the Small Business Saturday hashtags, #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat) can give you extra exposure. Use Google AdWords or sponsored posts on social media to advertise your event further and target specific locations or demographics.

Look at your website

Simply putting the Shop Small logo on your site isn’t enough to optimize it for Small Business Saturday. Also, think about posting a blog or a news bulletin about the event, and if you allow online shopping, consider your inventory. You want to make sure all your inventory items are updated and that you are offering all your promised discounts and promotions online as well as in-store.

Small Business Saturday is a fantastic opportunity to promote your business and boost your revenues while also supporting community. Small businesses often feel drowned out and smothered around Black Friday, but with Small Business Saturday, you can get your piece of the action. Just remember to have fun! Customers love small businesses because they are honest, relatable, and down to earth. If you can make shopping fun on Small Business Saturday, customers will remember you fondly (and might even start preferring Small Business Saturday to Black Friday).

 



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