The Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend is Small Business Saturday – a day when consumers are specifically encouraged to support their local communities by shopping at independently owned businesses.

American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 to help businesses get more customers. The next year, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting Small Business Saturday, and it’s grown into a bigger and more anticipated event each year since then.

Resources and ideas

If you’re a customer-facing small-business owner, you can benefit significantly from Small Business Saturday. Use the day as an opportunity to connect with your customers and thank them for their support not just on the busy Thanksgiving shopping weekend, but throughout the year.

American Express provides free posters, email templates, social posts and more from the Shop Small Studio so you can show you’re involved and promoting this small business movement.

Need ideas on how you can participate? Consider:

  1. Special sales – Negotiate deep discounts on a few key items from your suppliers, and slash your margins on merchandise your customers will get excited about.
  2. Exclusive offers – Sell something that will only be available that day, either in-store or online.
  3. Extended hours – Make it extra-easy for people to drop in at their convenience, regardless of their schedule.
  4. Special experiences – Offer free coffee and pastries in the morning, a beverage and cookies or cheese in the afternoon. Perhaps provide special entertainment by local children or musicians.
  5. Showcase unique products and services – Shoppers visit small businesses to discover unique products. Create a special display of the one-of-a-kind products your store offers. Pair items that would make a great fits ides to help customers find the perfect holiday gifts.
  6. Parking perks – Make parking lots and valet parking convenient and safe to customers and the public. Free parking vouchers can help attract new customers.
  7. Use social media – Promote your involvement in Small Business Saturday on your social media accounts. Share your special deals and use hashtags such as #SmallBusinessSaturday or #ShopSmall in your posts.

Here are some additional examples of special offers and events you might want to consider:

  • Free gift wrapping
  • Activities for kids, such as face painting, balloon animals or special giveaways
  • Raffles for the chance to win gift cards or items
  • Special guests, such as a local storyteller, celebrity or official
  • Opportunities for customers to take photos (such as a photo booth) and share their experience on social media
  • Outdoor attractions like ice sculptures to bring in more customers as they’re walking by or driving through town
  • Livestream your event on platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live to share what’s going on in your business online in real time
  • Work with other businesses to offer a scavenger hunt to incentivize customers to explore your town and discover and patronize other local shops
  • Pledge to donate a portion of your sales to a local group or charity

You get the idea. Be sure to talk to the customers who visit your business and tell them how much you appreciate their support. They may even have some great ideas for your next Small Business Saturday.

Strengthen relationships and guard against risks for continued success

After the holiday season, examine what worked and what didn’t. You will likely discover lessons and ideas that will help your business all year long.

Small-business owners face many challenges. Your insurance professional understands how hard you’ve worked to build your small business and can help you protect it from unnecessary (and potentially devastating) risks and uncertainties. Contact your JAISIN commercial insurance advisor to discuss your Small Business Saturday plans and make sure you have the right insurance coverage in place.

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