Let's Talk Turkey: Tips for Boosting Small Business Saturday Sales

Nov 13, 2012

Kenneth "Ken" Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Co., is seen shopping at Manhattan bookseller Shakespeare & Co., in New York, U.S., in this handout photo taken on "Small Business Saturday." Photographer: AE/Bloomberg Photos.

In just two years, American Express’ Small Business Saturday has become big business. The movement to shop at small retailers the Saturday after Thanksgiving has quickly entered the cultural vernacular, with over 100 million shoppers coming out in 2011.

American Express has resources for small businesses looking to get involved, but you can also learn from companies that have had success in previous years. Here are five tips for making the most of Small Business Saturday:

Leverage the Small Business Community 
The small businesses in your area can be your biggest allies. Last year, Distinctive Gardens in Dixon, IL was part of a group of small businesses that created a Facebook page, developed promotional posters, and did media outreach to encourage the community to shop small. The result for Distinctive Gardens? A 45% increase in sales over the same day a year earlier.  

Plan Ahead
For Butterlane Cupcakes in New York, NY Small Business Saturday was sweet, with a 400% increase in sales. The bakery cut the price of a dozen cupcakes from $36 to $25, but what really made the difference was an outreach campaign that included a “Shop Small” button on the website that let people place pre-orders. With 150 pre-orders, Butterlane was on its way to success well before Saturday.  

Take a Cue from the Big Guys
Offers like doorbuster deals, deep discounts on select items, and more aren’t just for Black Friday. DJ Crater boutique in Chatham, NJ offered shoppers 20% off from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. last year and ended up with $10,000 increase in sales over the previous year.

Appreciate Flexibility
Small businesses are nimble. Unlike big retailers, there’s no review process when it comes to choosing the incentives that work for your business. Change up your hours, throw in complimentary gift wrap, discount a particular product on the spot. Carlyn Smith Creations in Perry, MD got in the holiday spirit and offered free poinsettias to customers who made a purchase.

Little Things Matter
American Express offers free marketing resources to promote Small Business Saturday. Walnut Street Traditions in Lafayette, IN put one of the posters next to its register a few weeks in advance and caught the attention of a local news team. The subsequent interview brought in a crowd, leading to the store’s biggest day in six years.

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