- Oct 21, 2019
November kicks off the holiday shopping season, the most crucial time of year for small retailers. This year, the season is compressed due to the lateness of Thanksgiving, resulting in an intense 26 days between Black Friday, Hanukkah and Christmas when it is important for small businesses to take advantage of every marketing opportunity. Fortunately, the Chamber and other resources are ready with free or low-cost ideas; a little advance planning can deliver big results.
Northbrook’s retailers and restaurants are given the spotlight in print, social media, and mobile text marketing produced by a partnership between the Chamber and the Village. The Chamber invests annually in marketing strategies that include a Holiday Shopping & Dining Guide insert in the Northbrook Tower, the popular “Nicki the Northbrook Shopping Elf” Facebook Campaign, and the new Live Shop Dine text program, all designed to increase retail sales for local businesses and support the Village through vital sales tax revenue. Since sales taxes make up one-third of the Village’s budget, the “Shop Local” message of the campaign benefits all residents and businesses.
Small Business Saturday® is a rallying point that draws attention to the unique products and personalized services provided by local stores. Launched by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday has been promoted by the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) as a grassroots holiday to compete with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. According to SBA research for 2018, there were 88 million consumers “Shopping Small” on Saturday. “77% of consumers said Small Business Saturday inspires them to “Shop Small” through the year and not just for the holidays.”
Maximizing your visibility during this busy time takes advance planning and a multi-layered approach. Start with the Chamber’s free programs to support your efforts and expand your reach:
- Nicki the Northbrook Shopping Elf, a Facebook page sponsored by the Chamber and Village, will actively promote news from Northbrook stores and restaurants with multiple posts every day. Contact Communications Manager Carolyn Gessner at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your holiday offers and events featured.
- The Live Shop Dine Northbrook mobile text program connects shoppers and diners to promotions from businesses in the Village. Contact Ron Goldblatt, email@example.com, to take advantage of this free marketing service provided by the Village and the Chamber.
- Hot Deals draw attention to your business on the Chamber’s website by highlighting special limited time offers. Email Carolyn at the address above for assistance in posting a Hot Deal ad — it’s a no-cost benefit included in your membership.
Here are some tips to help make the most of Small Business Saturday and the rest of the holiday shopping season:
- Host an event. In-store events draw customers for special limited-time opportunities, and build communities of like-minded shoppers who share tastes and interests. Partner with neighboring businesses to support each other’s events. For example, downtown retailers la de da! and Turn the Tables will get the season off to an early start with a shared open house on November 7, and la de da! will follow up on Small Business Saturday with in-store photos with Santa and a special gift-with-purchase promotion. The Village recently created special liquor license classes to facilitate “Sip and Shop” events and other special events by retailers. Contact Village Clerk Debbie Ford, firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
- Create promotions that build your brand. Discounts are ubiquitous during the shopping season, but local businesses can craft holiday deals that bring customers back for return visits. Offer free samples as bonuses with purchases, or bundles that help shoppers discover new items. Free classes on how to use specialty products help build relationships between you and your customers. Loyalty programs and coupons to be used later are other strategies to encourage return visits. Sacred in Northbrook Court is using the holiday season to introduce its CBD-based products to a wider audience. The store is offering discounts on product bundles as well as free branded cosmetic bags as gifts with purchase.
- Ramp up connections through marketing. Give yourself plenty of time to get out the word about your event and offers through multiple channels. Flyers or postcards handed out in your store are a good start, but you will reach a far broader audience using online tools. This is the time to boost your activity on Facebook and Instagram, update your website, and refresh your email contact list. Increase your visibility with hashtags like #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday.
Be sure to contact the Chamber for ideas on sharing your promotions and events via our social media platforms, as well as the December newsletter and e-Announcements.