Shop Local. You’ve seen and heard this phrase dozens of times. As a small business owner, you know how important it is to draw local consumers away from both the big box stores and the online shopping sites. But this year, more than I can ever remember, shopping local will be important to you and your customers.
If you have watched the news, read a newspaper, listened to a podcast or the local radio station, you have undoubtedly heard about the pending shortage of goods this holiday season. Ships are backed up in ports because there aren’t enough dock workers to unload them. Goods are sitting in big trailers waiting to be unloaded into 18-wheelers but there aren’t enough drivers to meet the need. The pandemic created a shortage of both workers and supplies that hit some industries hard, especially any business that relies on computer chips.
So how can you take this situation and turn it into a positive marketing opportunity? Easy – just promote the idea of “buying local.” If you can remind customers that your services or products are already here, then you can tap into the current situation and offer an alternative that works for them. Restaurants, salons, fitness centers, spas, retailers, and professionals can all promote their businesses while reminding people that they won’t have to wait to get that gift for a loved one. Or worse, not be able to get it at all.
Each year, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is designated as Small Business Saturday (that’s November 27 this year). That’s a great opportunity to market the strengths of buying local. You can offer specials or frequent buyer discounts that day and build up to it for days or weeks in advance with advertising and social media posts.
This year, you can remind people of one more reason to buy local: you aren’t at the mercy of the supply chain shortages. Here are a few suggestions on how your business can turn this unfortunate situation to your advantage.
- Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and ask how you can join in any promotions they have planned for Small Business Saturday (you will need to be a member most likely).
- Have a Small Business Saturday Open House with refreshments and special sales that day. If you offer memberships, promote those as a great gift that boosts the community. This works for nonprofits and small businesses like fitness centers.
- Offer gift certificates. These do not have to be plastic cards and, in fact, might be more environmentally friendly if they are paper or even digital.
- If you have an annual gala or other event coming up, encourage people to purchase advance tickets and give them as gifts.
- Put signs up inside and outside your location to remind shoppers about the power of shopping locally.
- Businesses located in the same strip center or neighborhood can join together and have a Small Business Saturday event with specials and discounts.
- Encourage shoppers to help you promote the event on social media by having photo booths or props, creating a hashtag connected to your business, and having online contests. Live stream the event and include brief interviews with customers or workers.
- If you are hosting an open house with entertainment and drawings, be sure to send a brief press release to local media with details about the event.
- Promote your business on social media and if you have the budget, run ads or boost posts to reach more people. American Express has promoted its “Shop Small” campaign for years, and you can find ways to join in the effort at their website.
- Other resources are available on Facebook and the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA).
In short, there are many different ways to take advantage of Small Business Saturday and the Shop Local movement. This year, more than ever, you have the opportunity to increase sales by reminding your customers that doing so will help them avoid the supply chain shortages, keep money in their community, and support local businesses.