How Mom-and-Pop Shops Can Attract Customers Year Long, Not Just on Small Business Saturday

Share this:

The first quarter of 2019 is a time to look back on the triple threat of retail-based holidays we just survived. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the better known days; in comparison, little is reported about Small Business Saturday. While it may not be as familiar as its counterparts, Small Business Saturday has become a major driver of wealth for the local economy nationwide and a gift for the small institutions that make our towns and cities unique.

The concept for Small Business Saturday came about in 2010 thanks to American Express. A year later, the day became official when the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, led by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), showed support for the event. Even President Obama opted to shop small in 2011.

Since then, the holiday has grown quickly. In 2017, an estimated 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at local, independently owned businesses on the day, generating more than $12 billion in revenue. According to Adobe Analytics, this year’s Small Business Saturday generated an estimated $3 billion in online sales—and that’s not including brick-and-mortar transactions.

Making The Spending Last

Even with a sales boost like that, let’s face it: Small business owners don’t have it easy. They’re required to be master multi-taskers, often managing accounting, advertising, cashier, and custodial duties themselves. Anyone who has scooped ice cream as a summer job or worked behind the counter at a franchise can attest to the long hours and seemingly endless tasks associated with keeping a small business alive. But anyone who shops at these businesses knows their curated products, unique insights, and personalized selection are an appealing alternative to a bland shopping experience many consumers face elsewhere.

These days I’ve become somewhat of a coffee snob. But part of that interest started by talking with expert baristas at small, local coffee roasters. I could never get that level of service, let alone that quality of a cup of coffee, from a national chain.

Why, then, should small businesses be limited to one great day of sales a year? Now more than ever, owners have an arsenal of tools at their disposal to help them drive more visits and generate more revenue.

Challenges Many Small Business Owners Face

There are, however, some roadblocks on the path to making the most of available technology. Small businesses often don’t have the budget for pricey advertising or marketing campaigns that span search, social, and out-of-home. Instead, many choose one or two paid and organic options—and in a crowded and competitive marketplace, these don’t always produce the desired results.

In fact, the day-to-day routine of keeping a small business running leaves little time for marketing strategy. With just a few hours a week to focus on promotion, owners have to get it right; there’s no time for trial and error. Furthermore, small business owners aren’t always aware of all the marketing tools available to them. When they do hear about new solutions, it can be hard to justify the investment when the ROI is unknown.

3 Secret Marketing Weapons For Small Business

Since they can’t count on Small Business Saturday to generate sales all year long, small business owners need sustainable solutions. Here are a few.

1. Tap into real-world trends

Over the past 10 years, the use of location data for marketing has largely been limited to agencies and major brands. But it has become far more accessible and cost-effective thanks to the emergence of self-service mobile platforms that don’t require a big budget or agency partner. 

When used in a privacy-safe manner, location data allows businesses to glean insights about their customers’ real-world intent, much like paid search did 20 years ago. This data can help you understand the consumers who visit your store, so you can deliver more personalized mobile ads.

2. Make it personal

Create personalized content that’s helpful and valuable to your shopper, and use mobile targeting to reach them in the moments that matter. That could mean making customers aware of a 50% sale taking place at their favorite clothing store or alerting them to a new pop-up shop close by that provides a product or service relevant to their needs.

Personalization also means building out a great in-store brand experience that attracts shoppers and reinforces your image and values. Case in point: my local coffee roasters. But even today, this remains evident. Customers shop via their smartphone, yet they also go visit physical locations to post on Instagram and share their in-store shopping experience. Mobile will never replace in-store shopping, so brands should still be perfecting the in-store experience as both channels drive sales. 

3. Focus on end results, not impressions

Whether you’re buying an ad to drive online sales or one to encourage people to walk through your doors, focus on conversions that matter. Clicks are great for driving online traffic, but not so great when you’re trying to get people in-store. In that case, make sure your investments can be measured by end results: visits and sales. E-commerce is far easier to track, but if you’re a brick-and-mortar location you need to focus on marketing efforts that lead to visits.

Small Business Saturday is a windfall, but it isn’t enough to keep you going all year long. Leverage these marketing strategies in 2019, so you can harness the power of mobile and reach your customers wherever they are.

Dan Silver is VP of Marketing for GroundTruth, the leading location platform for driving visits. Dan is responsible for developing and leading all functions of GroundTruth’s global marketing efforts, including strategic positioning, demand generation, branding, and communications.