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Boost Your Small Business Sales - Starting Saturday

My wife came back to London from a business trip to the US the other day. She told me how people were already queuing for the annual Black Friday sales. Camping outside a Best Buy store for a week! (I’d rather hop online personally – Amazon have already started their sale, and not just in the US.)

But, what does all this hoopla mean for your independent local business? Does it help or hinder?

What’s new for small business owners?

The day after Black Friday, November 26 is Small Business Saturday. This event was founded last year by American Express OPEN.

The aim is to drive more sales for small independent, local businesses. And to celebrate small businesses’ vital contribution to the economy, job creation and local communities. It’s supported by several pioneering online companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and FourSquare.

Here’s a 30 second video showing what it’s all about:

Last year’s event brought an average 28% rise in sales volumes for participating businesses, compared to the same day the year before, and this year promises to have an even bigger impact.

What’s in it for the customer?

When a customer spends $25 at one of the 100’s of thousands of participating local businesses and checks-in using (mobile social media site) FourSquare then they get $25 back – from FourSquare. To make this work, the customer has to have a FourSquare account and an American Express (Amex) card. They then have to connect them together. Probably best to have sorted this out before the day.

Customers not using FourSquare can benefit via other other social networks including Klout and this Facebook page where they can find businesses and claim their credit.

A local business which does not accept Amex cards can setup whatever offers they like, and promote them online and offline. The high-profile buzz on the day can only help promote these sort of offers and bring in more sales.

How does it work for the business owner?

Any small business can take part and they do not have to accept Amex cards to benefit.

On offer is a free package of marketing goodies including:

  • Free customised in-store signage, logos & email templates
  • 20% off FedEx printed Small Business Saturday materials on the day if done through FedEx Office Print Online
  • $100 of free Facebook ads
  • Ideas and help on creating your own offers, e.g. discount or free gift
  • Help with promoting your business over YouTube, Facebook and Twitter
  • $100 of LinkedIn ad credits
  • And for businesses that accept Amex cards then hook up with FourSquare & Facebook to setup the $25 cash back deals

Is this only for US businesses?

This event is clearly aimed at small business shopping in the US but I cannot see any restrictions in accessing the free marketing package from elsewhere. More importantly, the ideas behind all this can be taken up by any independent business, anywhere.

Boost sales every day, not just one Saturday a year…

Where ever your small local business happens to be, there are lessons here on how to use social media to boost sales – all year round. Hopefully this article has sparked some ideas for you on how to do that.

For example, use the mobile check-in platform, FourSquare to setup and promote offers. There are other ways to do this using Facebook for example but that’s another story.

What do you think? Share your experience of Small Business Saturday in the comments below…