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Will Small Business Saturday 2015 Surpass Last Year’s Bonanza?

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With all the hype for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals already kicking off the holiday season, it’s easy for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) to get lost in the shuffle of the promotional chaos. However, the recent advent of Small Business Saturday has given these retailers a promotional platform of their own.

Consumers spent a reported $14.3 billion purchasing gifts at independent retail stores on Small Business Saturday in 2014, according to American Express. The credit card provider initially launched the concept of Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage consumers to spend money at their local businesses, instead of doing their typical shopping at major retailers.

As part of this year’s Small Business Saturday promotions, American Express has even created an interactive map including partnering SMBs to give shoppers the chance to find the locations of participating businesses online, and created the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat to create buzz surrounding the day on social media. Retailers can use both the interactive map and the hashtags as a quick way to take advantage of the Small Business Saturday in 2015.

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With the enormous sales generated by Small Business Saturday in 2014, optimism this year is high for small businesses: 56% of SMB owners say they are confident the national economy will improve over the next 12 months, according to the 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. Perhaps more importantly, the report revealed that an even larger percentage of SMB owners, 62%, are confident their local economy will improve over the next 12 months.

This confidence is further reflected in the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey from NFIB and American Express, which reports that 55% of U.S. consumers are now aware of Small Business Saturday. The survey indicated that 45% of consumers who expect to shop on the day plan to spend more on Small Business Saturday this year than they spent last year.

Local Partnerships And Social Media Marketing Spell Saturday Success

When it comes to building out successful campaigns to reel in shoppers throughout Small Business Saturday and into the rest of the holiday season, retailers can partner with other local businesses, or even their township or Chamber of Commerce, to see if they are holding promotions of their own.

“There are thousands of events that local business networks have already set up for the day that are happening across the country,” said Miguel Ayala, a spokesperson for the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The SBA recommends businesses sponsor events relevant to their consumers as a means to drive traffic and sales.

“If you are planning on sponsoring an event, whether it’s your local Little League tournament or your town’s annual community health drive, you need to have clear goals and you’ll want to partner with events that reflect positively on your brand,” according to a blog post from the SBA. “If people are having a good time, then it’s likely that experience will rub off on your business through association. Consider events with a good track record that will attract the kind of customers you’re targeting.”

Beyond creating special events, retailers are encouraged to use social media platforms to spread the word of their offerings and products. Making these messages creative can add a unique element from the store that reels in customers seeking out images and content related to their shopping experience. Retailers also have the opportunity to implement discounts that consumers can only receive through their Facebook and Twitter campaigns.

“Encourage and incentivize customers to check in and interact with your business during the day,” said Nicole Kroese, VP of Marketing and Partnerships at Likeable Local in an interview with CNBC. “Any way you can make it interactive with the customer.”

The focus on social media as a marketing tool is certainly growing among SMBs, who are taking note of the effectiveness these platforms have in attracting consumers and spreading word of mouth. A Bigcommerce survey indicates that more than 70% of retailers actually plan to focus on promoting their business through the existing communities they’ve built on social media channels, and nearly 45% plan to spend on social media advertisements.

Considering that more than half of retailers surveyed say their holiday spend accounts for no more than 20% of their annual marketing budgets, preferring instead to rely on organic traffic, SMBs would be wise to concentrate on low-cost social media options to optimize success on Small Business Saturday.

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