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The UK is celebrating its first Small Business Saturday on 7th December 2013, following in the footsteps of the United States who began the initiative in 2010, generating $5.5bn in its first year.  

Supported by the UK government, it is hoped that success will follow into the UK and generate support for the 4.9m SMEs currently located here.

As well as some well-meaning tips on digitally showcasing and preparing for the big day, the blog begins with some lovely stats that should hit home on how important it is to participate.

I mean, if the idea of competing with 4.7m business of the same size doesn’t daunt you, then perhaps you should participate for the fun part, or indeed to support other local businesses.

Small Business Saturday Facebook cover Photo

Statistics

These great statistics are from the Commons Library Standard Note:

  • In 2013, there were an incredible 4.9m businesses in the UK, accounting for 99% of ALL businesses.
  • 4.7m, or 95% of businesses, were micro-businesses which employ nine people or less. Micro-businesses accounted for 32% of employment and 18% of turnover.
  • The service sector accounted for 72% of businesses, 78% of employment and 68% of turnover.
  • The manufacturing sector accounted for 6% of businesses, 11% of employment and 17% of turnover.
  • In 2011 there were an incredible 261,000 business births compared to 230,000 business deaths.

The statistics above give an idea of how large the competition is for SMEs, and how much they have to strive to be better than their neighbours. And they’re not even mentioning anything about the bigger players.

The point of these statistics isn’t to give anyone a fright at the amount of competition in the UK, but rather to show how it is becoming more and more important to do something extra to push themselves to the forefront and be competitive. Although I’m sure no one needs me to tell them that.

But my point is that by successfully taking part in Small Business Saturday, SMEs can give themselves a competitive edge and sure, it’s an excuse to get to know your customers better and to be introduced to new ones.

Lightbulb Moment

Starting out

To begin the venture into Small Business Saturday, I would suggest deciding how you wish to participate, and what you want to do to showcase your company.

This idea has to work for both the business and the customer in order to be successful. The day-to-day business still needs to run smoothly, but the idea needs to attract enough consumers to be deemed effective.

There are so many things that SMEs can do to participate, whether it’s giving a special offer to new customers, running a free event, or even inviting people in for a coffee morning meet-and-greet. This day is meant to benefit you, the small business owner, in the long run. So, make the most of it and showcase what your company has to offer.

Whatever you decide to do, it should involve networking with both current customers as well as potential new ones. By making it fun, consumers are more likely to engage and enjoy their time as they take time out of their day to support your local business.

Having something special to offer is key to this event, as the intrigue can mean getting consumers through the door as well as getting them to return to the business in the future. Who doesn’t love returning customers, as repeat business can go towards a substantial amount of your profits.

Implementation

By the time you read this, you will have more than two weeks to prepare for the day, and so there are some steps that you may wish to take to let consumers know you’re taking part in Small Business Saturday.

Of course, all advertising can be free through social media, or perhaps a small budget can be given towards the event, depending on your objectives.

Email campaign

If you have the resources (an email list), a small email campaign can be extremely effective and will let your customers know that you’re participating.

Create a sense of exclusivity within the email list, adding in some urgency by communicating that it’s a one day only event.

Sale on

Social media

Preparation leading up to the event can be done through social media, letting consumers know what is happing on the 7th. This is where the interactions can take place, letting people know that you’re thinking of them, and they’re doing a good deed by supporting you.

By building a bit of buzz around the event, you can lead the conversation and determine the potential opportunities surrounding your event.

Spokesperson

Why not lobby some people in your area using social media and get them involved through advocacy. A local politician or celebrity with a good following on social media would create interest as well as conversation. By getting someone else to tweet a few times or record a short video, value will be added to the event.

Oliver Proudlock from Channel 4’s Made In Chelsea is actually the ambassador for Small Business Saturday UK, being a small business owner himself. 

Oliver Proudlock supporting Small Business Saturday

During the event

Live Tweeting Logo Suggestion

Live tweeting

It is understandable that the business owner themselves will be too busy to live tweet themselves, but perhaps inviting someone to live tweet the event can work out quite well for the business.

Visual aids like photos can work quite well, indeed as much as live interactions with customers. The live tweeter doesn’t have to be of note, just creative enough to post accurately, often, and interestingly.

Instagraming it

This site has two great uses, as it not only allows the user to filter and post great photos, creating content for other sites such as Twitter and Facebook, but it also allows 15 second videos which should be enough time to get a few videos of the event, as well as some testimonials from the visitors.

What better way, not to mention more believable way, to tell the whole world that your product or services are fantastic, and your customers agree.

Gather information

Run a small competition through social media or get the event goers to give you their email addresses to receive further information on your products. Using this information wisely, you can increae the chances of the consumer becoming repeat business, in addition to continuing the conversation.

Ornaith Killen

Published 21 November, 2013 by Ornaith Killen

Ornaith Killen is part of the Econsultancy research team.  Follow on Twitter @ornaithk.

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