By Rieva Lesonsky
As we get ready to participate in Small Business Saturday this coming Saturday, November 30, I’m wondering why many small business owners don’t promote (and celebrate) the unique nature of their small businesses all year round? The first year American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010 to put small businesses in contention with big business’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, the Small Business Saturday Facebook page got over 1 million likes. That says a lot about the enthusiasm and pride small business owners feel about owning their own businesses. Whether you’re applying for a small business loan or creating your next social media campaign, it’s important to portray that feeling of inclusion and membership to your customers: Here are four ideas for how to do that:
- Think local. Promote the advantages to buying local. Check out the IndependentWeStand.org website for some great ideas, or search the Web for the buy-local movement in your town (I bet one exists). Many consumers prefer to support their local economy, so you need to make sure you get on their radar. Make sure your business profile is updated on sites like Google Places, Yelp and Local.com. If your city doesn’t have a buy-local campaign, start one!
- Get known in your community. You can boost your local profile with public speaking. Volunteer to speak in front of local community groups, business organizations or civic groups. Suppose you own a personal training business. You could speak to local business groups about how busy entrepreneurs can fit exercise into their day; speak to moms’ groups about how to lose post-pregnancy weight or fitness for kids; and speak to seniors’ clubs about fitness after 50. Talk up the fact you aren’t part of a big fitness chain, but can give more personalized service.
- Cooperate. Part of the Small Business Saturday mission is to help promote your fellow small businesses. Forget competition—the marketing buzzword today is “co-opetition.” Co-opetition means teaming up with complementary businesses to market your companies together. Co-opetition exposes your brand to a whole bunch of new customers, multiplying your marketing reach. And because prospects are getting information about your business from a trusted source (the other business that they already patronize), they’re more likely to buy from you.
- Make marketing a group effort. Once this year’s Small Business Saturday is over, don’t wait until next year’s to join a group marketing effort again. Consider uniting with other businesses near yours to host a special event. A group event like this is a great way to attract new customers who might not otherwise try your business. The more businesses get involved, the more clients the event will attract.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.