Large businesses have a huge advantage over small because of their name recognition and branding. That’s why it’s so important to promote Small Business Season. We’ve got 10 of our best promotional ideas for Small Business Season – from easy to a little more involved. But your small business members are worth the effort!
Why promote and support the idea of a Small Business Season? When a customer has a specific need, they often think of box stores, online retail giants, or event chain restaurants because each is a known quantity. A shopper knows what Target has. They understand the price range and they know the store is open late.
A small business is less known and leaves the buyer with questions. Will they be open past six? Will they have what I need? Will it be in my budget?
The unknown can be thrilling in certain aspects of life but for a stressed-out shopper or hungry diner, the unknown means they just might skip that small business altogether.
Help your small business members build brand recognition, answer questions about their businesses, and get more reach this holiday season. It’s easier than you think!
We know your time is limited and you want the time you do spend to yield maximum returns so here is a list of 10 ideas to help you promote and support Small Businesses Season and amplify the local businesses message this holiday season.
Promotional Ideas for Small Business Season to Help Get More Reach
From social media posts to media-worthy events, you can bring a lot of attention to your small businesses through these ideas.
- Use hashtags.
It’s essential you use #smallbusinessseason, #shoplocal, #supportsmall, #shopsmall and/or whatever area-specific hashtag that resonates with your audience. There are people who are looking to support small businesses. Marking your posts with hashtags will help them find your posts even if they don’t follow the chamber. Plus, some organizations keep an eye on specific hashtags and they may retweet or share your post for even further reach.
- Explore micro-local sites and groups.
Look into the different neighborhood resources that are out there such as NextDoor, Facebook Groups, downtown merchant associations, etc., where the focus is local. At first glance, they may appear to be in competition with the chamber, but any group that supports small and local could be a good partner with the work you’re doing. Learn their posting rules and share when appropriate. With these groups, you know you have a receptive audience.
- Connect small businesses.
Your small businesses need to be online to be competitive yet many small business owners find e-commerce, websites, and maybe even social media, overwhelming. Speak with some of your small business members who specialize in these things like web designers, marketing agencies, and freelancers.
Make introductions or publish their information on a resource page or in your newsletter. Sometimes a small business owner knows they need help but doesn’t know where to go to get it. The chamber can be a reliable bridge to introduce the small businesses that need help with the ones that provide it.
- Encourage extended hours.
As a chamber pro, you can’t force your small business members to stay open later during the holiday season but you can highly suggest it AND showcase it when they do. You could create an image post featuring businesses with extended hours to help them get the information out there. Post it to your newsletter, social media, and/or your website.
- Add community events.
Encourage your community businesses to add their special events to your chamber calendar. These could include sales, trainings, unveilings, tastings, etc.
- Publicize contests.
If your small businesses are hosting contests (or if the chamber is) share those things on social media. Tag participating businesses. Ask them questions. Try to get a conversation going. Every time someone responds to a post, the algorithm deems it important to them and it sorts the post at the top of viewers’ streams.
- Host something.
Whether you host a holiday shopping or artisan expo, shop local challenge, or promote a special shop small group, people are more likely to pay attention to a group of businesses than a single one. It’s also more likely to get media exposure if there are multiple vendors to showcase.
Depending on resources and time, the chamber can host something or simply promote something that is going on in town. For instance, some clusters of businesses will get together to promote holiday sales on their lane, alley, or shopping center. The chamber can help them get more attention.
- Offer an incentive.
Some chambers host shop small contests or giveaways for supporting designated businesses in the area. In these cases, if shoppers can prove they patronized small businesses, they’re eligible to win something. But you can also incorporate the power of social media and word-of-mouth marketing.
You could offer one free gift wrapped for every small business review written, post shared, or #smallbusinessseason<yourcity> hashtag used (check platform rules before offering something in exchange for a review or post). If you incentivize people to act in a way that helps small businesses, they will look for ways to pass it along.
- Create a TikTok.
TikTok has 1 billion monthly active users. The video clips are short and catchy and people watch them again and again. If you think your audience isn’t on there, you might be underestimating the power of word-of-mouth marketing. Plus, creating a TikTok or a reel (on Instagram/Facebook) allows people to get to know you or whatever business you feature.
Think of ways to show the fun side of the chamber and your community businesses. Are you up for a little lip-syncing dressed like an elf? Show us!
- Think ice water.
Do you remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? It caught on and brought awareness and collected tremendous funds for ALS research. Consider a challenge you might start on behalf of small businesses in your community. Making it humorous to watch (or unexpected) is a big component of a successful guerrilla marketing campaign.
You can even invite participating businesses to come up with their own, like giving everyone a toy t-rex dinosaur and telling them he has to “crush” something in their business or inviting everyone to reveal a secret about their business that no one else knows. Ask well-recognized local leaders or celebrities to join the challenge. The more creative, the better. You could easily go viral with this one–just don’t forget the hashtag.
Now, go put these promotional ideas for Small Business Season to use!
Helping small businesses get more sales this holiday season involves giving them a louder voice. People love to shop small but often it slips their minds. Remind your community how good it feels to help a neighbor.
Shopping small also means keeping more money in your community. Plus, a small business that has a healthy holiday shopping season is in a better position to sponsor charitable organizations, school groups, and teams as well as hire and patronize other local companies. Everyone wins during shop small business season.
Promoting and supporting small business isn’t just a day, it’s a lifestyle.
We need a Small Business Season!
Join us. (it’s free) – https://bit.ly/sbsresources21
More from our Small Business Season Series:
Small Business Season Statistics and Stories for Marketing
26 Ideas for Small Business Season Social Media Posts
6 Small Business Season Marketing Ideas for Chambers
16 Reasons to Shop Local Instead of Online (A “done for you” article for chambers to use)
Small Business Saturday? NO, It’s Small Business SEASON!