If there were a Marvel movie on community-centered shopping, Black Friday would be Thanos and Small Business Saturday (SBS) would be The Avengers. SBS is a shopping holiday that falls the day after Black Friday and pushes shoppers away from over-consumption at retail giants and towards the support of local artisans and entrepreneurs. As the pandemic continues to disrupt shopping routines, SBS could not be more important for local makers and sellers. To guide sellers on how to navigate the online marketplace over the holidays, NextFab ran a three-part webinar series called, “From Making to Selling.” In the final part of this series, we spoke with Cass (Oryl) Bailey, Founder and CEO of Slice Communications. Her experience in public relations, social media, and email campaigns gave some top-quality insight into marketing for Small Business Saturday.
The Buying Process Pretzel
Before diving into Small Business Saturday, Cass gave her general view of modern shopping habits. She coined the term “Buying Process Pretzel,” which sadly, is a little more complicated than the process of buying a Philly soft pretzel. Cass explained that consumers usually move through these steps before purchasing a product:
Hear about product → Check out the website → See an ad → Revisit the website → Follow on social media → Buy the product.
While most people would call this a buying process model, we are going to stick with pretzels because the process is intertwined and twisted together, just like our beloved Philly soft pretzels. The process shows that shopping is no longer as simple as “See it, like it, buy it.” It’s all about visibility, exposure, and consistency. The days leading up to Small Business Saturday are the perfect opportunity to increase your visibility and get potential customers onto the buying process pretzel. Cass recommends 4 things to do before SBS:
- Paid advertisements
- Increase social media presence
- Boost email marketing efforts
- Network, network, network
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How much should you spend on paid ads before SBS? Cass’s rule of thumb is to spend 10% of the revenue you’re hoping to generate. People need time to go through the pretzel process of brand interaction, so you want to start promotion efforts a few weeks before Small Business Saturday.
Increase Your Social Media Presence
Cass gave a nice summary of social media advertising depending on your goals and your audience:
- Instagram: Versatile, but particularly good for younger audiences (#OneOfTheKids).
- Facebook: Older generations and good for finding communities (e.g. Philly Pretzel lovers).
- Pinterest: Drives traffic for home goods (where to reach the newlyweds or first-time homeowners).
- TikTok: A little risky as it is newer but worth doing if you have spare cash and want a much younger audience (#ReallyOneOfTheKids).
Since the main focus for Small Business Saturday is to increase your discoverability, social media is a great tool to use. Here are a few top tips to think about:
- The hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday can amplify content.
- Interactions are better than likes, so encourage people to leave comments on your posts and spread the word about SBS.
- Incentivize resharing of your posts on Instagram stories to be part of the SBS movement.
- Your friends and family want to help promote your business, you just need to ask!
- Share your customers’ posts using the product or talking about why they love it.
- Do a competition where followers share your posts and promote SBS.
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Boost Email Marketing Efforts
While social media is good for visibility, email marketing drives more sales. How can you increase your mailing list before SBS? Promotional phrases like these will encourage people to sign up:
“Be the first to know about our new products.”
“Get a 10% discount coupon when you sign up.”
“Receive exclusive deals as part of our loyal mailing list.”
Once you’ve got the people, what content will drive sales on SBS?
- Cass says “people like to do business with people they like.” Your story sells your products, so it’s important for customers to connect with you and your background. Since the purpose of Small Business Saturday is to support local makers and sellers, emphasize your locality and your role in the community. Keep it personal and relatable!
- Just as with any advertisement, email marketing needs to be eye-catching. Not necessarily over-sized GIFs and flashing fonts that burn your retinas, but bold CTAs and aesthetic product photos can increase conversion. Top tip: Videos do not work in email marketing, so save them for your website and social media!
- Email marketing has “prime time” slots just like TV ads (and luckily you don’t have to pay millions to reach your mailing list at a good time.) People tend to check their emails at the start of the working day or during breaks in sporting events, so these are the perfect time to send your emails.
Top tip: SBS is about discoverability, not discounts. Cut prices at the end of the season when you have less demand. To learn about using your money sensibly, listen to our webinar on “Financial Planning During the Holidays.”
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Network, Network, Network
SBS is usually promoted in retail store locations, but due to Covid, makers need to rely on other avenues and networks to bring in business this year. Cass gave 3 ways to increase your network ahead of Small Business Saturday:
- Media coverage: reach out to your community reporter and tell them you have a good local story. Do this early and follow up!
- Form strategic partnerships: Work with other small business owners targeting the same people to market products. It’s more about who you sell to rather than what you sell. For example, if you make hats and someone else makes slippers, but both for the Philly sports audience, make a #FlyEaglesFly package together. You can find these partners on social media or in an artist community, such as NextFab!
- Network on LinkedIn: Cass set a goal of meeting 7 new people every week when she created her LinkedIn. She messages around asking for Zoom coffee dates, where she chats with people about common interests and adds them to her email list or social media. Successful networks can promote local success well beyond Small Business Saturday!
Parting tips from Cass
To learn more about promoting your local business on Small Business Saturday and beyond, Cass suggests LinkedIn Learning, MailChimp, Hubspot, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite. For more information about planning, promoting, and selling this year, listen to the other webinars in the “From Making to Selling” series.