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Caitlyn Mendonca

Caitlyn Mendonca

Kick Off the Season on Small Business Saturday

Across the country the frenzy of Black Friday has taken over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As a small business owner it can often be difficult to compete with big box stores and online retail giants on these days. In response to this, small business owners have joined together to claim a day of their own. Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday there is now Small Business Saturday. The movement has grown into a holiday shopping staple aiming to support small businesses just like you.

Small Business Saturday will fall on November 30th this year and you have the opportunity to take advantage of the growing popularity of the day. On Black Friday weekend of 2018 over 165 million people shopped. Small Business Saturday can be a great way to start drawing people in for the holiday season. Here are a few marketing ideas to help you draw in customers for Small Business Saturday this year:

Start Spreading the Word

Get online and make sure all your customers know about Small Business Saturday before it comes around. Send out an email marketing campaign inviting your customers to participate in all the fun activities and sales you have planned for the big day. 

Make sure to update your social media event calendars to share with your social followers and post in the weeks prior to remind followers that it is coming up. American Express offers a suite of free customizable marketing materials you can use to post on social media. Hang these signs in your store and around town. You want everyone to know that Black Friday isn't all they have to look forward to!

Custom_Email_Header_Since 2019
Graphics like this can be used as a cover photo on social media or a header on your website for the month leading up to November 30th to easily spread the word about Small Business Saturday.

Put Yourself on The Map

Another great resource available from American Express to independent pet retailers like yourself is their Shop Small Merchant Maps. These allow consumers in your area to easily find you on a list of local small business.  

To appear on the small merchant map you must be an American Express Card accepting store. That being said if you would like to add yourself to the map and get free marketing exposure as a small business you just need to follow some simple steps:

  1. Create a merchant account on the American Express site. (If you receive payments from Amex you can get your merchant number on the Financial Activity statement. If not, you just need to call Amex at 1-800-235-8916 and provide them with your tax ID number. )
  2. A page will display your business' location along with public information about it. Select it.
  3. Select the edit icon on the right side of the page to update your business' public information.
  4. Make sure the checkbox is checked to indicate you want to get free exposure by allowing your public business information to be seen on the Amex small business maps.
  5. As always, save your updates so they appear online.

American Express Small Merchant Maps are available for anyone to view, not just American Express card holders. Consumers looking to visit small businesses will be able to easily see where locally they can support this growing holiday.

Connect With Fellow Small Businesses

Join forces with fellow small businesses in your area to help engage in cross promotion. Share their brochures, flyers, and business cards with your customers in your store. You can put coupons and discounts for other stores in your customers bags and have them do the same for you. You can even give each other a shot out on social media.

Check out how Pioneer Pet Feed & Supply in Seattle, WA teamed up with Swell Gelato, another Seattle company that makes frozen treats for dogs, last year on Small Business Saturday.

Take teaming up with fellow businesses one step further and join together to hold a sidewalk sale on Saturday. If the weather permits this can be a great opportunity to generate some word-of-mouth marketing as customers travel from store to store. 

Do you follow small businesses in your community on social media? If the answer to that question is no, then hop to it and help support your community. Building a relationship with fellow local businesses can really help make you successful. Try retweeting and sharing their posts and hopefully they will return the favor!

Promote Door Buster Deals

You can approach door buster deals a couple of ways, you can make them an all day sale or you can do it for a limited time. For example, you could do an early bird special and offer 40 percent off holiday toys and treats from 7AM to 10AM or you could make it 20 percent off holiday treats and toys all day. Consider, BOGOs or offering a tiered sale like $10 off $60, $25 off $100, and so on. There are plenty of ways you can get creative with your deals so go BIG and really capture customers' attention.

Here is a great example from Fetch Pet Supplies, in Springfield, Missouri. They created deals available only during certain times which creates a sense of urgenscy that gets shoppers through the door. 

An important thing to remember is to thank your customers for shopping small. You want to remind them that it's about more than just the deal they get. It's also about the independent retailers they are supporting. Try sharing the faces of some of your supporters on social media throughout the day like this store did below.

This post from The Hungry Hound in Sommerville, NJ is a great example of how to share your Small Business Saturday customers and thank them for their support.

Extend Your Business Hours

Small Business Saturday is essentially the independent retailers' Black Friday, so it may be smart to extend your hours. Doing this will allow you the opportunity to hold different types of promotions.

If you open an hour or two earlier you can hold an Early Bird Special. This can also be a great opportunity to get shoppers in your store that may not be able to come otherwise. They may also work in retail and can't make it in for your regular hours. Extending your hours can give more people the opportunity to experience your awesome customer service!

Get People in the Door With Incentives

On Black Friday everyone is expecting to be wowed by door buster sales and crazy good deals and often big box stores are able to deliver those things, but what they can't do that you can is make a customer's shopping experience unique.

Something that is sure to grab a customer's attention is the promise of free stuff. It doesn't have to be something huge it can be as simple as a free $1 toy to the first 50 customers or a free treat with $20 purchase. You could set up breakfast snacks and fruit or a coffee and hot cocoa station, and a out a bowl of cookies for their dogs.

This a great example from Bark Bark Club in Chicago, IL showing appreciation for customers even when it isn't Small Business Saturday. Use Small Business Saturday as the perfect opportunity for you to do the same!

You can also apply through American Express to receive free "Shop Small" goodies to give out to your customers. They have things like stickers, balloons and tote bags that would be perfect for your customers to put their new purchases in. You can even slip in some coupons for their next visit and help encourage repeat business. 

The American Express Shop Small merchandise can be great on their own, but consider adding some free samples and coupons to show your appreciation to customers shopping small this November 24th.

Put Up a Holiday Giving Tree

Small Business Saturday is not only about sales and hot deals, it is also about giving back. A great way to do this is to partner with a local shelter or animal welfare group and put a small tree up using inexpensive jingle bells and paper tags as ornaments. Label the tags with the item in need of donation and then let the customer fill out the to/from portion on the back. Donation drives like these are a great way to boost sales and get more people in the door.

Set up a display table with the items for donation near the tree to encourage customers to buy and donate. Consider putting signs in the aisle by products needed for donations to encourage shoppers to pick up that bag, can, or toy and contribute to the drive.

View this post on Instagram

Seasons greetings from Paddywack! The holiday season is a time for giving, and we are asking for your help in giving back to pets in need in our community- something we feel really passionate about. This year we are using our giving tree to support @thesqueakytoy_wa, a nonprofit that serves homeless and low income pet owners, including disabled veterans, by offering a mobile “free pet shop” to bring much needed food and supplies directly to pet owners that need a helping hand. Our tree is filled with ornaments representing items that are needed by the folks that The Squeaky Toy serves- everything from $1 items like cat toys and a roll of poop bags, to collapsible pet bowls, coats, toys, food and more. We gladly welcome your new or like new donations from home, and of course we can help you find something at Paddywack to gift if you choose. We are grateful for the wonderful support we have already received to help make the holidays brighter for pets in need and we hope to fill our wagon many time over with your help! #paddywackmc #millcreektowncenter #givingtree #happyholidays #givingback

A post shared by Paddywack, Mill Creek WA (@paddywackmc) on

Here's an example of a very successful giving tree for homeless pets and low income pet owners from Paddywack a store in Mill Creek, WA.

You can also make it especially personalized by having donations go to a specific pet. Put up a board with pictures of the shelter pets and their wish list to allow shoppers to choose a pet and build a stocking for them. Share the pets and their wish lists on social media and make sure to post updates as the donations pile up!

Capture Customers Through Their Kids

68 percent of US families own pets, so this is a huge audience you can target on Small Business Saturday. Have some kid friendly activities like holiday coloring or make-your-own-snowflake stations. You can print copies of a holiday coloring book pages and get paper to cut into snowflake shapes. Activities like this can keep kids occupied so their parents are free to shop to their heart's content. Make sure to set up the activity area somewhere off to the side that will not interfere with regular store traffic.

The Small Business Saturday movement is growing every year so this year try using some of these ideas to help draw customers in. Everyone will be spending this holiday season so here’s your chance to benefit in a big way! We would love to see how you kick off the holiday season with Small Business Saturday. Share some pictures of your holiday turnout to our Facebook page.

Do you already celebrate Small Business Saturday? Let us know what you do to celebrate in the comments below!

About Caitlyn Mendonca

Caitlyn Mendonca is a Pet Food Experts Marketing team member and has been working in the pet industry for almost 7 years. She has always loved all animals scaly, feathered, and furry. She loves spending time cuddling with her kitty Edgar. Caitlyn is a true Rhode Island native who is always down for chowdah and clam cakes with a side of ice-cold coffee milk!