I know the holiday season is in full swing when Small Business Saturday notices start landing in my inbox. Small Business Saturday, in case you haven’t heard, is the shop-local antidote to the big-box retail frenzy that is Black Friday. Entering its 6th year, Small Business Saturday showcases the importance of small business to our overall economy, and it encourages shoppers to support their local businesses.
The event, created by American Express in 2010, has seen widespread acceptance both by small business owners and by shoppers eager to support their local economy. According to the 2014 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, shoppers spent $14.3 billion with small businesses during that year—2.1 percent more than they did in 2013.
This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 28, and it's not too late to get your small business—and your local community—primed and ready. Thus far, more than 3,000 communities have signed up as Neighborhood Champions—people who encourage shoppers to support the small businesses within their community by hosting creative events that celebrate small business. That's an increase over last year, which saw 2,786 communities join the ranks of Neighborhood Champions.
In a prepared statement, Janey Whiteside—senior VP and general manager of customer marketing and relationship management at American Express Open—noted, "Each year, we see more and more communities recognize the important role that small businesses play in their neighborhoods and find creative ways to celebrate them on Small Business Saturday."
Are You Neighborhood Champion Material?
You too can rally your community by hosting an event as a Neighborhood Champion. Apply online at ShopSmall.com before November 9. Need inspiration? Here's a quick peek at just some of the events Neighborhood Champions have planned for Small Business Saturday this year:
- A "Shop Small" window decorating contest for local shops in Baltimore, Maryland
- A downtown dinner event featuring a meal from independently-owned restaurants in Summerville, Georgia
- A shopping board game promoting multiple small businesses in Bloomington, Illinois
- Sleigh rides to local businesses along with caroling in Princeton, Minnesota
- A citywide selfie contest encouraging shoppers to take photos in their favorite small businesses in Clinton, Iowa
- A festival with a bike parade and paint-by-numbers community mural in Mar Vista, California
Small Business Marketing of Champions
Of course, you can’t be a proper champion without the proper tools, and the folks behind Small Business Saturday have you covered with free marketing materials, including:
- Printable signage and save-the-date cards
- Email templates and social posts
- Shop Small logos
- Shop Small promotional merchandise (while supplies last)
- Event guides
In addition, both FedEx and Eventbrite support Small Business Saturday initiatives. As in years past, FedEx will ship Shop Small merchandise free of charge (while supplies last), and small business owners can create listings to promote their events on Eventbrite.
Small Business Benefits
According to Small Business Saturday spokesperson, Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle, becoming Neighborhood Champions has proven successful for small businesses across the country. "The most successful part of the experience is the visibility gained among consumers and celebrating an important day that's all about small business," Leinbach-Reyhle told Small Business Computing.
She noted that the experiences Neighborhood Champions create "encourage consumers to visit multiple businesses on Small Business Saturday, which is a great way for businesses to generate more visibility among both existing and new consumers."
Finding more customers; it's the biggest challenge facing every small business owner. And it's the issue American Express sought to address when it created Small Business Saturday. You still have time to take advantage, but you need to start now: the Neighborhood Champion deadline is November 9.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com. Follow her on Twitter.
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