Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. You simply can’t get away from the promotions this time of year. While there is lots of hype leading up to these promotions you have to wonder if there are real results. I was most interested in Small Business Saturday which got unbelievable coverage in the media and lots of paid advertising.
According to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express, small business did see an uptick. But, the results are somewhat mixed. More consumers, up 14.9% from a year ago, did venture out shopping to support their local businesses. But, they did not spend as much per person. You can read all the results here.
The big question is whether there will be a long-lasting impact for small businesses. The answer depends on what consumers experienced while shopping and if we as business owners have made the case for community support. Consumers may go out to support a local business for one day but what will keep them coming back is a whole different story. Consumers want selection and a great value. A small business that provides something unique and unusual will get noticed. In fact, some consumers will pay a premium for goods that are “must haves.” Additionally, the small business can really excel in the personal service and attention it provides. This is the secret sauce that makes many small businesses successful and builds a loyal customer base.
Small businesses also need to help local consumers understand the role that they play in the health and vitality of the greater community. To begin, we employ about 50% of the country’s private sector workforce. Small businesses create jobs. Our employees and their families live and work in the community. They are contributors on many levels. They support other businesses. They volunteer. Not to mention that many small businesses support community organizations with good and services at reduced or no cost.
I love Small Business Saturday and am encouraged that this year more than two-thirds of the population knew about the day. I also applaud American Express for generating awareness of the value of small business to economy. But, small business owners need to keep working to make sure customers come knocking on our doors every day of the year. We must be responsive, provide service, great products and a real value. Small business is often referred to as the engine that will help move the economy forward. Let’s keep it chugging along.