Competing with Big Box stores and large retailers is a daunting task for a local small business. At no time does it seem harder than the weekend after Thanksgiving. Shoppers are bombarded by the big guys with “Door Busters” and many significant discounts for Black Friday. In fact, it’s become a tradition for some families.
Then there’s Cyber Monday, where online retailers make the same approach. So where does the little guy fit in?
Here are five proven strategies to increase your profile during these high-profile events.
1. Tell Your Story
You know this, and likely so do your customers. But it’s easy to forget. Remind them that small businesses are the heart of the local community. They’re powered by the people that live in their neighborhoods, have children in their schools, and pay the taxes that support local services. Small businesses also provide most of the jobs! According to the Small Business Administration, 54% of all sales are from small business, which creates 40% of the retail jobs in the U.S. and 55% of all jobs.
Spending locally keeps money in the local economy. Local businesses tend to do their business with other local companies – multiplying the economic impact by four-fold, according to a Civic Economics study.
“According to the Small Business Administration, 54% of all sales are from small business, which creates 40% of the retail jobs in the U.S. and 55% of all jobs.”
Local businesses are just more invested in the community. Their success depends on a robust local economy and local businesses generate more tax revenue per sale than larger retailers. They’re also more likely to help support the community. Local companies are 250% more likely to support local charities, according to a University of Central Oklahoma study
2. Drive Business with Online Promotions
If you haven’t already started to gather email addresses for your customer, start right now! When it comes to getting repeat business, sending out an email to the people that already like and trust your business can be incredibly productive. 61% of small business revenues come from repeat customers, according to BIA Kelsey. Reminding your customers of the importance of buying locally, and providing them with an incentive to shop your store instead of the malls or big box retailers can drive traffic to you.
In addition to increasing traffic in the short-term, rewarding your loyal customers can increase sales. Repeat customers, says BIA Kelsey, will spend 67% more than a new customer.
3. Drive Business Using Social Media
Social media allows for both geographic and demographic targeting. Know the majority of your customers come from within a 10-mile radius of your store? You can focus online advertising within those zip codes.
Making coupons available to your ideal customers is a proven technique to drive store traffic. 60% of mobile coupon users report they will switch brands if they have a financial incentive to do so, according to GfK.
“60% of mobile coupon users report they will switch brands if they have a financial incentive to do so, according to GfK.”
Here are some other online campaign ideas to drive folks to shop at your business:
- Instant Win contests and Online Sweepstakes where winners get a prize they need to redeem at your store. Those that don’t win can get a coupon or incentive to visit your location.
- User-Generated Photo Campaigns which help spread the word about your business. Others will share the photos on social media, broadening your marketing outreach without spending any additional advertising dollars.
- Encourage potential customers to go online and vote for their favorite product or photo. You may want to offer a prize for the picture that gets the most votes, which encourages social media sharing and participation.
- Create a photo gallery of new products at your business or showcase what’s unique or different about doing business with you rather than the big guys.
- Ask current customers to let you record a short video about why they love your business. Recording on a mobile phone gives it a raw and genuine feel. You can offer an incentive for allowing the use of the video online, but your most loyal customers will likely be excited to do it for free. You can also create a video contest allowing online visitors to pick winners by voting.
In each of these cases, not only can you see short-term benefits, but gathering emails to engage with the online content can help grow your email database for re-marketing at a later date.
If you think it takes marketing professionals with years of experience in online marketing, think again. Consider using Woobox, a very inexpensive way to create high-quality marketing campaigns. The platform makes it so you can launch any of these online promotional campaigns in a matter of minutes.
Each of these ideas also generates a positive interaction with your business and helps establish trust and loyalty. A Loyalty 360 study reveals 75% of U.S. companies with loyalty programs make a positive return on their investment.
4. Embrace the Madness
If people are going to line up at 2 am to be one of the first in line at the Big Box stores to score one of their doorbuster specials, it may be tough to compete. One strategy is to let it happen and then advertise specials later in the day. Since most of the prominent stores try to get shoppers in the door early, you might also consider having your sales take place in the afternoon. Another approach might be letting people know your specials are available all day long – no waiting in line!
You may also want to consider teaming up with other small businesses to share the advertising expense if you have a common goal. Maybe it’s the two or three local businesses in the same block or shopping area, or it’s a compatible business, like a restaurant. In that case, you might create a campaign that talks about after shoppers are done at the big guys, they can relax with a discount at the local restaurant and then stop by your business for more savings.
5. Small Business Saturday
You may want to skip Black Friday and instead focus on Small Business Saturday. First launched in 2010, the Saturday after Black Friday was created to bring attention to America’s local business amid all the advertising about Big Box, Shopping Malls, and Online Shopping. All throughout the country, small businesses use the opportunity to tell their story and how spending dollars locally helps the local economy.
Small Business Saturday in 2016 attracted 112 million customers, spending a reported $15 billion according to Consumer Insights Survey done by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business. It’s a great way to highlight what you do differently than the big guys, and the experience customers will have when visiting your business.
Make it Happen!
You absolutely can compete with the big brands during the shopping season. You do, however, need to be proactive to tell your story and make things happen. Using some of the techniques above, you can not only increase sales in the short-term but build long-term loyalty and repeat customers. You can also create that email database to remarket customers for additional opportunities.
Regardless of your chosen strategy, you’ll need to get the word out. Log in to Woobox for free and see how easy it is to build a contest or promotion!