With roughly a month left to Small Business Saturday, I thought I would share some ideas for a successful day!

The day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday. There are many ways you can get involved in this event that promotes buying from small businesses. Here are a few ways you can make the most of this time for your business even if you have very little time to prepare.

1. Be open. You can’t take part if you’re closed. In fact, you may consider extending your hours for that day or for the entire weekend. However, if you do, you need to market this on social media and your website.

2. Contact your local chamber. Find out how they’re celebrating and how you can be a part of it.

3. Bring your store outside. If the climate and space allow, consider bringing a rack or some other showing of your business out to the sidewalk to draw people in. If you do, have a sales associate there with a portable payment option for frictionless transactions.

4.Create specials for that day and post them to social media. Or tell people to watch your social media postings for exclusive flash sales.

5. Host contests or special drawings to build the fun.

6. Send out a special evite to your email list about Small Business Saturday.

7. Tell your business story on social media or on your blog.

8. Update your website with Small Business Saturday occurrences, specials, contests, etc.

9. Invite a band or DJ to your business to create a special atmosphere.

10. Giveaway fun swag for the first several patrons.

11. Offer samples of your products.

12. Serve delicious food.

13. Place a few cinnamon sticks in a warmer to add a delicious smell to your business.

14. Download materials from American Express, the organizers of Small Business Saturday. You can print images, watch how-to videos, and more on their site.

15. Call all hands on deck. Increase your employee coverage so that you can provide very personalized service. If someone is stopping by for the first time, you want to ensure they leave talking about you in a good way.

16. Give a “friends and family” discount to everyone to start the holiday off right.

17. Don’t base your marketing strategy on Box stores. It’s easy for a multi-million-dollarcompany to take a loss on a few TVs to get people in the door but you don’t want to do that. Instead, play up what makes you different (more knowledgeable staff, excellent service, etc.).

18. Give how-to demonstrations or show people how to use your products or services in a new way such as a DIY craft or food prep.

19. Form partnerships with other merchants. This can be really effective when you offerpackages and referrals. A gym might work with a nutritionist to create a “wellness during the holidays” package or a nail salon might have a special offer with the local hair place. Even if you decide not to create a package of two business services, you can help one another through referrals.

20. Invite a costumed character to entertain the kids.

21. Give away something for free to the kids like a small snack or drink or host a craft table. It will keep them from getting fussy and give their parents more time at your business.

22. Invite a balloon artist or some other entertainment that will keep people in your store longer.

23. Set up a local celebrity sighting. If you own a bookstore, arrange for a book signing of a local author. If you own a spice shop, invite a local chef to come in and talk about using spice in holiday dishes. Make sure your local celebrity helps out with publicity by asking them to share your posts in their social media profiles.

24. See who else is celebrating. Search “Small Business Saturday” in your community to see who else is advertising their participation. In addition to the chamber, there may be other groups who can help you get the word out. Piggyback onto their celebration. When the water rises, it lifts all boats.

25. Do unto others. Just as you might look to get involved with others who are celebrating, make sure you are a good neighbor and retweet and share their Small Business Saturday posts and offerings.

Finally, a bonus tip: create something amazing that people will want to photograph themselves in front of. This can be a giant chair or a beautiful backdrop. Use your imagination. Then post a hashtag poster nearby so you’ll be sure to see what they share.

Even though Small Business Saturday is right around the corner, there’s still time to participate.Show your interest and help others find you through marketing and social media

Small-Business-SaturdayThe Think Local First campaign is gearing up for Small Business Saturday and for Think Local First for Christmas!

Now in its fifth year, Small Business Saturday (November 29th), held every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, was created by American Express in 2010 to support the small businesses that create jobs and boost the economy. Since its inception, Small Business Saturday has served as the ceremonial kickoff to the busy holiday shopping season for independently-owned businesses.

The Chamber is really excited to be participating for the first time. We’ll be promoting the businesses that will be open and participating in Small Business Saturday with posters around town and on the Think Local First Facebook page. Stop in at the Chamber and pick up your “Shop Small” button and wear it with pride! On that Saturday, if you make a qualifying purchase at one of the participating businesses, not only will you be supporting our community and your local economy, but you’ll receive one of the 300 “Shop Small” canvas tote bags available, while supplies last.TLF logo

There are so many great ways to do your Christmas shopping locally: tools for your handyman from G&R Auto Parts or Clark Lumber, unique gifts or antiques from Miss Lizzy’s or Prairie Chic, a bottle of their favorite wine or spirit from Sullivan’s or Barnes Heartland Liquor, a subscription to the Herington Times, candles or home décor from Kay’s or Signature Homestyles, beauty products from Mary Kay, a gift certificate from one of our local restaurants or for a beauty treatment from First Impressions or Shear Joy. Show those you love that you really care with a thoughtful gift from a local merchant!