In 2010, American Express launched the first Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday that’s devoted to encouraging consumers to spend their holiday shopping dollars at local retailers. According to sources as wide and varied as USA Today and the Washington Post, this year’s event on Nov. 24 was a success in many areas of the country, both in generating revenues for small businesses and for generating awareness of supporting small businesses.
However, we all know that creating a special day around a product, service or industry can be very successful. Just look at how Corona owns Cinco de Mayo, or how Macy’s owns Thanksgiving, or how Guinness owns St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, there’s a natural connection between them, but go beyond that and it’s how the brands themselves have embraced these days and made them part of their marketing, part of who they are as a brand.
And who’s saying you can’t do the same thing with your small business. Does your town have a founder’s day or an annual celebration of some sort (think Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, PA)? Or is there a related day on the calendar that relates to the type of business you do? If so, you should consider somehow marrying your brand to these days and getting people to naturally think about your business when these days approach.
Granted, this takes time, maybe a few years to build up enough momentum. But if you pair your business with the day well, if the marriage seems like a natural fit, then half your work is done. In addition, if your tactics revolve around something more charitable or are other-focused (like the AmEx Small Business Saturday), then it gives you even more credibility because you aren’t just doing this for a buck … your heart is really in it.
Here’s an example of how you can get this kicked off. Say you have a Web design company. You could commemorate the birthday of Tim Berners-Lee (the true inventor of the Internet … and no, it wasn’t Al Gore) on June 8 by having a local Web design celebration that you co-sponsor with a local design/marketing organization (like your local American Marketing Association chapter). You could provide the refreshments, food and promotion (of course inviting your clients, prospects and friends); they could cover the event space. You could run an email contest for the giveaway of a webbook. And so on.
It’s probably smart to start this out slow, but after you’ve thrown parties for a few years and word starts to get out, people expect to get an invite, and your name becomes much more familiar than it previously was.
Plus the sound of owning your own day just sounds cool 😉