Are you trying to rally stakeholders and big business members to support small business this holiday? Are you getting indifference? Or perhaps even pushback because it might alienate non-small, non-local businesses? There are ways to overcome these obstacles.
Have you recruited big businesses for economic development and now you’re feeling a little guilty about shining a spotlight on small?
We get it.
But helping small business doesn’t have to be at the expense of big business. There’s quite a lot in it for the big businesses if it’s presented right. Here’s how to get them on board so that Small Business Season can turn into a community project where everyone benefits.
Why Big Business Wants to Support Small Business
Drawing attention to the need to support small business season this year can be a very effective and meaningful way to finish out the year. While large businesses contribute in big ways to the tax base of your community, small businesses bring the flavor and provide jobs for a large percentage of your community members.
Supporting small also helps big businesses from a public relations perspective just as it helps small ones bring in more revenue. They need one another and that makes for a touching (and unique) human interest story that your media outlets may find appealing. This has the makings of a beautiful community success story and it’s easy to build a buzz quickly around this sort of thing.
There’s a concept in psychology called “anticipatory joy.” Anticipatory joy describes the good feelings surrounding the planning and dreaming of an action. It’s both mental and physical.
For instance, think about the happiness you feel when planning a vacation or a longed-for purchase. You dream about the item (or service). You make selections about it and you imagine your life once you have it or have experienced it. The thoughts behind this purchase cause your body to release endorphins and you feel excited, joyful, and giddy with anticipation. The mental plans induce a pleasurable physical response.
Calling on your community to plan how they will support small business can begin to elicit the same kind of anticipatory response and improve the state of mind of people in your community. Asking big businesses how they will help and getting them involved in the planning that will positively affect so many can create a shared anticipatory joy response for them as well.
Pretty great, right?
So, now how do you get them involved?
4 Ways Your Big Businesses Can Support Small Business
There’s no reason to make anyone feel left out while you’re asking people to support small. You can help bring a lot of attention and goodwill to your larger businesses while you’re still helping small. It’s not big business versus small. In fact, most of the big businesses in your area probably aren’t in competition with the small. That leaves a lot of opportunity to help both shine.
If you have access to prominent local leaders of big business, you can create content around “Big business supports small.” Whether that takes the form of a curated post of favorites, interviews, reels, or any other type of content depends on your access and the VIPs’ availability. There are a lot of creative content possibilities.
You don’t have to sit down for a 30-minute interview to get fun comments and quotes to use in your campaign. You might be able to get a couple of questions to them through email and ask them to answer them in email or a quick video blurb. Use the phone or Zoom. If you see they’ve already talked about a small business on social media, ask if you can use what they said.
Try getting some comments on:
- their favorite small businesses in town. You could create a “best of” list curated by your large businesses.
- some of their favorite memories about working for or patronizing small businesses.
- going from a small business to a large one. If the VIP has been with their business since it was small, talk to them about the transition they made from start-up to big deal. No business starts big. They came from somewhere.
- their first job (or a job where they worked for a small business).
- their favorite place for something specific like pizza, wings, ice cream, etc.
Encourage Chamber Bucks
While the number of big businesses that give bonuses or end-of-year gifts to employees seems to be shrinking, there are still plenty that do. Ask the HR department about the employee gifts or awards they give.
You may be able to partner with them to switch out the gift cards they’re currently issuing to local currency or “chamber bucks” instead. This can be a big boost for local small business and it gives employees a greater variety of businesses to choose from than what they currently have.
This can be a very appealing story for the big business to circulate too. Everyone wants to help and a pat on the back for doing so feels pretty good no matter how large the company is.
Small Business Suppliers
It’s likely big businesses in your community are working with small businesses already in some capacity using small suppliers or vendors. Tell the story of that partnership and how they work together to mutual benefit. Walmart and Kroger have local, small and diverse supplier source programs.
If they aren’t currently working with any small businesses, find out more about their RFP processes and what they’re looking for. You may gather important information that you can pass on to your members to make their RFPs more successful in the future.
Encourage Them to Follow the Trend
If you do a quick search on support small businesses right now, you might be surprised that one of the popular content trends is large businesses making lists of small businesses everyone should support this holiday. Vogue published one. As did Forbes, Wired, and Buzzfeed to name a few. Help your big businesses get in on this content trend by creating one for your area.
There’s no reason to think of small versus large in terms of competition this holiday. When you support small business, you are not discrediting large. You’re simply providing help to members of your business community that will feel the support to a much greater degree. The best part of that is that we can all benefit from supporting small business this season.