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Shop Small: A Holiday Season Preparation Guide

Here at Forward View, we spend most of our time working with small businesses. You might say that entrepreneurs are some of our favorite people! When we're not directly consulting with local companies from across the U.S., our team is likely reading and thinking about new ways to support the economic pillars of our communities. With Christmas and Hanukkah upon us, we'd like to help you prepare for Small Business Saturday (November 28th) and the rest of the holiday shopping season.

First of all, fire up your social media accounts and start promoting #ShopSmall immediately! Then, begin developing a cohesive campaign that combines an online marketing effort with an in-store/on-location event or offer for Small Business Saturday. (If you have an e-commerce business, then just focus on the digital component.) Create a special sale to drive holiday season visitors, says Forward View consultant Grace Wu. Our copywriter, Chelsea Hippler, adds that your digital efforts should combine the general Shop Small message with your unique business promotion.

For offline marketing, our digital artist, Kerri Costello, suggests you should mail postcards to potential customers in your area. A well-designed card with a coupon or invitation to a special event will stand out in the typical mailbox full of catalogs. Overall, utilize social media and your small business website to present a comprehensive message why patrons should shop with you this season. With big-box stores flooding the internet and airwaves with ads, you must clearly explain the reasons your business deserves hard-earned holiday dollars! Use Eventbrite to publicize your Small Business Saturday event for free. Click here to begin your promotional process. If you don't want to host your own holiday season gathering, Forward View analyst David Wilson says that your small business should sponsor or support community events, such as a 5K run.

Once you have developed your holiday season plan, get your business ready for increased traffic. The good news is that our friends at American Express have free information and content to jumpstart your on-location Shop Small campaign. Click here to access the American Express guides and materials. Also, ensure that you have enough inventory and staff to satisfy increased demand. The last thing you want to do is have a flood of potential customers come to your business... and not be able to satisfy their orders or requests!

We believe that "bottom-up" economic development is key to revitalizing American communities. One small business itself can't impact a regional economy, but a supportive and connected group of firms can do wonders! The key to a successful Small Business Saturday and Shop Small campaign is to network with other local entrepreneurs and business groups to build a cohesive message. Start your planning now so you'll be ready to go as Christmas spending begins in earnest. Make this holiday season your most successful ever!

For further reading, Grace Wu recommends:
http://localvox.com/blog/holiday-marketing-ideas-for-small-businesses/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/caroltice/2014/10/31/selling-christmas-before-halloween-how-small-businesses-can-compete/
http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/10/holiday-marketing-tips-retail-store.html
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/shopping/holiday-tips-news/christmas-small-businesses/
https://www.sba.gov/blogs/12-last-minute-low-cost-holiday-marketing-tips-your-small-business