If your chamber of commerce participated in, or promoted Small Business Saturday the day after Black Friday, congratulations! You helped to create something amazing within your community.
But this isn’t a holiday that you want to celebrate just once a year. If you want to make promoting shopping with small and/or local businesses a priority for your chamber you need to build upon the energy and excitement you started this past weekend.
Keep reading for details, but here’s 10 ways how you can leverage your chamber of commerce’s Small Business Saturday promotions:
- Share pictures and stories from your events
- Listen and share on social media
- Prioritize it on your editorial calendar
- Create helpful spotlights
- Interview small business owners
- Host contests
- Host a “maker’s market”
- Create resources
- Offer and track referrals
- Build a network
While you may not want to implement every one of these ways, or maybe you’ll take some of them and tailor them to your individual community, the point behind them is that you continually talk about the importance of shopping small. The more often you do this, the more likely your message will be heard.
1. Share Pictures and Stories from Your Event
Undoubtedly, there were people in your community who missed Small Business Saturday. Maybe it was because they had other plans or they simply missed your messages. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t support the movement. One of the first things you want to do is to share the magic of that day. Show pictures of your store owners and customers shopping. If you ran a contest for Small Business Saturday share the results. Make sure that even people who missed it physically can support and enjoy it afterward.
2. Listen and Share on Social Media
Someone in your community shared information about shopping small on Small Business Saturday. You just need to search for it. When you find it, retweet or share their content. Try to get a conversation going. One easy topic to start a conversation is to ask them what their favorite small purchase was over the weekend.
3. Make Sharing About Small or Local Business a Priority on Your Editorial Calendar
There’s an old saying in sales but you should tell people what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them again. Marketers will tell you it’s actually a “Rule of 7.” Someone has to hear your marketing message seven times before it sinks in. That means you want to incorporate posts about shopping small or local in your social media and editorial calendars.
It’s probably a good idea to post about this concept at least once a week or about every 7th post. Don’t copy and paste the exact same post about shopping local. Instead, vary the content between posts about your members, infographics about the benefits of shopping local to the community. images of members’ business, and other pro-small and local business posts. Don’t forget to add these types of community posts to your editorial calendar, blog, and your newsletter content.
4. Create Helpful Spotlights
It’s fairly common for the chamber to highlight their members, especially when the member is new. But just as you might arrange your social media or editorial calendar around upcoming events, look for ways to showcase members.
For instance, leading up to Valentine’s Day you could create content around the “10 most romantic restaurants in our town” or “20 places to buy economical Valentine’s Day gifts.”
Before you become concerned that members will feel left out, you can think of several ways to showcase multiple members in different lists for the same event. Using Valentine’s Day as an example again you can create lists or blog posts of the following topics including a different list of members each time. Remember when you do create list posts, use a link shortener to your members’businesses where you can track clicks on individual links. You can then share these with your members and let them know how much traffic you sent their way. Topics could include:
- Best places to buy unusual Valentine’s Day gifts
- Best places for Valentine’s Day gifts for moms
- Best stores for great deals for Valentine’s Day
- Most romantic spots for Valentine’s Day
- Best small florists for Valentine’s Day
- Most unusual gifts for Valentine’s Day
- # stores for last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts
- Best places to get your pet a gift for Valentine’s Day
- # salons that will help you look your best for Valentine’s Day
- # service gifts you can give for Valentine’s Day (think maid, cooking, etc.)
The options are endless on how you can showcase your members for special holidays.
5. Interview Small Business Owners
We’ve talked often about the importance of storytelling but one of the most effective storylines chambers can tell are those told about members. if you want people to understand the importance of buying small or local, you need to highlight the people who are directly affected by these actions. Just as people want to buy from businesses they know, like, and trust, allowing your community to get to know the local small business owners will make them want to help, support, and patronize these businesses.
Make your local stories as poignant as possible. Highlight local business owners’ dreams and their struggles. Make them known to the audience. Paint a picture of what it’s like to own a small business in your community.
6. Host Contests to Support Shopping Small
Did you hold a contest for Small Business Saturday? Maybe you have a passport program where businesses stamp a “passport” for every dollar spent or every shopping trip. They can then be entered into a drawing or can earn a special prize when completed. Or maybe you had a contest where something special was hidden at a small local business and the first to find it won. These are the type of things you should do throughout the year, not just on Small Business Saturday. If you are encouraging people to shop small or shop local you want to offer these kinds of action-driving incentives throughout the year.
7. Host a Small Business Expo or Makers Market
Another way to show support for small or local throughout the year is by hosting a small business expo or a makers market showcasing local artisans and small businesses. Bringing these businesses together in one location can help them reach a new market and get more excitement behind their business product or service.
8. Create Helpful Resources for Small Businesses
It doesn’t do the chamber any good to talk about the benefits of buying small and local if you don’t support small businesses. A common complaint of small businesses in some towns is that chambers sometimes focused on businesses that bring in more revenue.
While it may be necessary to spend the most time and energy on the businesses that provide the greatest return on time investment creating self-service resources that are valuable to the small business owners can be a way that you can support them. Sure, there is time involved in creating the resources but once those videos are recorded, those books are written, those podcasts are created, and/or the other resources are generated, members can help themselves and use them again and again.
9. Offer and Track Referrals
The chamber is often asked for referrals. If you want to continue to support small and local businesses make sure you consider them when being asked for referrals. Then share with them the numbers of people that you send over.
10. Build a Network of Small Business Owners and Supporters
It’s great for the chamber to tout the importance of doing business with local and small business owners but your chamber is only one voice. In order to be the most effective in leading the small business charge, you need to get others involved in that network. That means you want to build a program that links small business owners with other small business owners.
You want to encourage them to refer business to one another, partner with each other in mutually beneficial ways, and endorse one another on social media. One of the easiest ways for you to accomplish this is to create a checklist that helps small business owners think of ways that they can help other small businesses.
This may seem silly and you may assume other business owners would think to do this but that is not always the case. Helping people understand how they can best help one another adds many other voices to your support of local and small business. It makes your program much more effective and louder.
If your chamber has been a part of Small Business Saturday, don’t let those efforts languish. You have built some amazing buzz this weekend around supporting small/local businesses. For maximum effect, continue that messaging throughout the year with consistent practice in your communication and social media messaging.