If you want to have a successful Small Business Season, there’s an element of education required.
Your community may know it’s important to support small businesses (studies suggest that about 70% of consumers shop small at least once per month) but when they have to buy something, shopping small may not be their first thought. Their first inclination may be to whip out their phone or their laptop and start typing the big seller URLs that we all know by heart.
Since that’s not ideal for your small businesses, you need to educate them on the importance of supporting small this holiday season. Statistics are good and stories are even better. Here’s some you can use.
We’ll help you show people:
- who it benefits
- why it benefits them
- how it benefits them
- what the greater application of those benefits are
But educating someone on the benefits for shopping small also means cutting through the concerns they have in their own lives. For most people this year, that means talking to speed/convenience and cost.
Most people will tell you that when it comes to holiday shopping and the stress behind it, they want to get their list checked off quickly and for a price that fits in their budget. Unfortunately, the online retail giants have a reputation of being faster, more convenient, and more economical than small business. This misconception is something we can all help dispel.
There are two ways to make the education component memorable – Small Business Season statistics and stories.
How to Tell Small Business Season Stories
Stories stick with the audience. It’s something they’ll remember long after the stat largely because we are all story tellers. Stories are our means of communication whether they are told around a campfire or online. We connect through stories. The small business community is ripe with them. You just need to ask.
It’s easy to say your community is ripe with stories but sometimes it’s difficult to uncover them. The following section provides some ideas on effective story lines. You can ask for examples within your community or use these ideas and think of businesses that fit the topics below. Your hometown newspaper will also likely respond since human interest stories are very evocative.
Next, you’ll need to decide on a format for your story. There are many, such as:
- videos (live and recorded)
- blog posts
- image quotes
- infographics (using images to tell the story visually)
- slide decks/photo compilations/collages
It’s wise to use a combination of all of them when sharing the stories of your small business community. You have members of your audience who are visual or auditory. If you use several types of media, you’re bound to find one they will enjoy. It’s also easier for you. One story can live in several forms of media ensuring the story has a wider audience. Plus, repurposing material in other formats is easier than starting from scratch.
So what kinds of stories should you be telling?
You want to tell stories that will help your audience get to know, like, and trust the small businesses in your community. Since about 71% of shoppers admit to researching a brand (not just a product) before buying from them, these types of stories can be big sales motivators.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- The risk taker. There’s likely a business (or several) that opened in your town during COVID. Highlight their efforts, what they’ve learned, and what it means to follow their dreams.
- The dutiful family. Find a family business in your town and talk about the history behind their operation. What challenges have they weathered? (This can be an inspiration for someone who is currently struggling.) How has their business changed with the years.
- The pivot. Tell the story of a business that radically changed the service or product they offer to meet customer demand. For instance, they used to sell DVDs, now they’re streaming online. These types of pivots could help people think more creatively. Speaking of…
- The creative or artisan. Often when telling business stories, we focus on retail, especially during Small Business Season when we are trying to encourage people to shop small. But there is a whole group of people who may not have a brick and mortar store front such as artisans and creatives. You may not feel like their story has a broad application, but the creative process and following one’s dream is something others could find very valuable as they grow their business or decide to start one.
- The former victim. This story may be a little harder to uncover because it requires the “main character” to become very vulnerable. However, their message can be extremely motivating and powerful. It may be easier to find someone in the public speaking role who is already telling their story of overcoming tragedy to share what they have learned with your audience. Stories of overcoming illness, bankruptcy, domestic violence, oppression, brutality, or other extreme difficulty can be tremendously inspiring for your audience.
- The mentor. There’s likely someone in the shadows who has given back to future generations in a way you may not realize. They may have sponsored a baseball team or gone into schools to talk about the dangers of bullying. Perhaps they teach disadvantaged youth a lifeskill or they hire former felons as part of a belief in second chances. Highlighting their efforts can help people see this business in a new way.
- The second chance/life success. There are many stories of people who have succeeded as part of a second chance or a second life. For instance, you may have someone who did a lot of regrettable things in the past and has become a very successful person because they changed their lifestyle or made different choices. There may be someone who was in a completely different line of work and recognized a desire to do something else. These types of stories are inspirational and help encourage others to follow their dreams.
In addition to building know, like, and trust, these stories will help you drive sales for your small business community. People will want to support the efforts of others who are working hard to follow their dreams. Hearing stories like these, stokes our desire to be part of a tribe that does something more for the community. Stories can influence purchase, drive word of mouth, and keep a business top of mind.
However, some people want to know what’s in it for them and why they should support small business. A story is great but it drives action using emotions. Some people prefer data.
Small Business Season Statistics
Some people support an idea based on a beneficial analysis, not emotional stories. For those people, we’ve compiled a list of stats from various sources.
It’s not difficult to use these stats to create punchy marketing materials–like image quotes–that help people understand the reason for shopping small this holiday. You’ll also want to share the benefits of shopping small for customers, the small businesses, and the community by sharing these Small Business Season statistics in your social media, website and even printed materials.
Did you know?
- There are about 61 million small business employees in the US. (SBA)
- 58% of business owners started a new business in 2020. (Guidant Financial)
- 46% of business owners have positions they can’t fill. (National Federation of Independent Businesses)
- 43% of small businesses said the most important challenge they face is building a visible brand. (Semrush) Let your audience know that social media shares and reviews can go a long way to helping small businesses with that.
- 48% of small businesses implemented an online store in 2021. (Bluehost) When you tell your small businesses’ stories, let your audience know if they offer e-commerce options.
- 61% of small business owners with a storefront saw a decrease in sales in 2020. (Bluehost) They need our support.
- 78% of small business owners (with a storefront or without) saw a decrease in sales in 2020. (Fed Small Business)
- 62% of small business owners used personal funds for their business in response to economic challenges from the pandemic. (Fed Small Business)
- 10% of business owners cut their own wages because of COVID. (Guidant Financial)
- 82.76 percent of shoppers say they would rather support a local business than a large corporation. (Local Business Consumer Sentiment Study by Red Egg Marketing)
- $68 of every $100 spent locally stays in the community as opposed to the $43 that stays local when purchases are made at a national chain. (LocalFirst.com)
The good news is that 78% of small business owners expect to survive. But they need the help of consumers and clients this year. One day is not enough.
Don’t our small businesses deserve a whole season?
See the rest of our Small Business Season Series:
Small Business Season: The Story Behind the Community-Building Movement
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!