Every Day Any Day All the Time Whenever
Small Business Saturday (SBS) came and went last December and it’ll come and go again in 2017, but, says Nicole Reyhle, founder of the website RetailMinded.com, its positive effect on small business lingers all year long. That’s good for the independent retailer, she said. As an advocate of small business marketing, Reyhle shared her suggestions on how SBS can be a winter springboard to making big gains with folks who like to shop small.
SBS came to life in 2010, and Reyhle, a spokeswoman for the occasion for three years, has done a thorough study on the event and its results. Simply put, raising awareness of Small Business Saturday raises overall awareness of small businesses themselves. “Right now, 72% of U.S. consumers are aware of SBS, which is a test of that ‘shop small’ message,” she said. “This increased awareness extends the message year around. It’s not just that one day, it’s every day, any day, all the time, whenever.
“Shopping small is something that is increasingly more top of mind for customers, in a huge part thanks to Small Business Saturday,” she continued. Even if people don’t buy paint for Christmas, Chanukah, or Festivus, getting your store involved may put you on the radar for when it’s time to recoat. “As customers, we can celebrate SBS, and as business we can celebrate building small and rallying around each other to bring the store and community some attention,” said Reyhle.
The “rally around each other” part is important, she emphasized. You’re not going to have the clout of a national chain that can fit fifteen of your showrooms into its lobby, but if you band together with other non-competitive small businesses, you can hype awareness and increase your customer base. “Work with like-minded but noncompetitive businesses year round to generate more visibility,” she suggests. “If you’re a paint store, you can partner with the local home furnishing store and introduce each other’s customers,” she recommended. “You can leverage off each other’s audience without being competitive and learn from strategies used in SBS to extend those ideas year round.”
Even your customers who know everything might want to learn something, so like many customer service experts, Nicole suggests having how-to events to bring them into your store. The first Saturday of every month, for example, can demo a new technique or product. “Home Depot and Lowe’s are doing some of this, but no one can do it as well as independent retailers. You have the personalized touch and experience,” she acknowledged. And, she continues, don’t forget a loyalty program, often courtesy of your POS system.
“But Nicole,” we asked, “what about you? Since you’re so ‘retail minded,’ what do you look for when you go to a small business, no matter what day of the year?”
Basically, she wants you to make her feel special. “Customer service is number one,” she said. “Product knowledge, service, and brand understanding. If you’re selling brands that are sold at a box, what separates you selling that brand, and how do you clarify the value of purchasing it from your business rather than from someone else? What are you doing to extend beyond the obvious so customers want to lean on you again and again?” For example, something as simple as a list of preferred painters can take a lot of worry off someone’s palette. Not sure what customers want? Ask! “Make it easy and enjoyable and give them a reason to want to return.”
Plus, by investing in you, they’re investing in themselves. “Remind your customers that they are helping support the local economy,” said Reyhle. “Keep that economic strength in the community. Say thank you for supporting small business. It doesn’t hurt to extend the gratitude.”
The Retail Minded website, said Reyhle, while not specific to paint, has many resources for your “business” side. You’re bound to find something that’ll help smooth out some rough edges. “We talk about running a business effectively, merchandising and marketing online, in store, mobile—all these assets.” If you have a passion for paint, but not for as much the ins and outs and wear and tear of running a business, this might be the place to cast anchor. “We look at those types of ideas and make them fun—and easier for retailers to do.”
“How do you clarify the value of purchasing from your business rather than from someone else?”