Black Friday and Cyber Monday will quickly be upon us. However what about Small Enterprise Saturday? Going down within the U.Ok. on December 2nd, it’s an annual occasion designed to encourage small companies to shout about what they do, whereas prompting the remainder of us to think about procuring or buying regionally.
That is the time of the 12 months when Black Friday advertising and marketing goes into overdrive. Open your mailbox and also you’ll discover it groaning underneath the burden of particular presents. The identical is true of social media, tv and the press. Black Friday advertisements are in every single place. There isn’t any escape.
So right here’s the query. Going down only a few days after this media blitz, can Small Enterprise Saturday actually present a platform for SMEs to make their voices heard? I spoke to Michelle Ovens, CEO of each Small Enterprise Saturday and Small Enterprise Britain to seek out out.
Retail Sector Gloom
Describing itself as a grass-roots, non-commercial exercise, Small Enterprise Saturday has been operating in the UK for eleven years. This 12 months’s occasion is happening in opposition to a backdrop of continuous financial uncertainty. Within the retail sector, gross sales had been down barely year-on-year in October following a a lot sharper dip of 1.1 p.c within the earlier month. In the meantime, Inflation – the scourge of the retail sector – got here in at 4.7 p.c in October, sharply down from the earlier month however nonetheless effectively above an optimum stage.
All of the extra purpose maybe for the massive names to give attention to shifting inventory by pushing Black Friday offers, however as Ovens factors out, discounting just isn’t one thing that smaller native retailers can afford to do.
“Don’t become involved in Black Friday. It doesn’t assist small companies,” she says. It’s largely for large companies. Small companies can’t do the massive low cost factor.”
Certainly, discounting to drive just a few additional gross sales could be counterproductive, she argues, as major focus for many consumer-facing SMEs is to maximise revenues over the height Christmas interval to offer a obligatory monetary cushion for the quieter occasions of the 12 months.
So how can small companies reap the benefits of Small Enterprise Saturday?
Nicely, there are some advertising and marketing advantages. The group invitations small companies of every kind – not simply retailers – to register on its enterprise finder web site and also will present a variety of promoting supplies and assist. A nationwide tour – in partnership with BT (British Telecom) presents additional advertising and marketing alternatives plus workshops and mentoring. Additionally supporting the initiative, American Categorical is providing money again on purchases from small corporations.
Ovens says small companies ought to take the chance to advertise themselves at a time when a nationwide marketing campaign is drawing consideration to what they do. “There’s rather a lot to be mentioned for small companies telling their tales,” she says.
So what does that imply in observe? In any case, a neighborhood store, or maybe a small producer or net design company received’t essentially have an enormous advertising and marketing funds. “You possibly can speak to native media,” says Ovens. “Or get your message out on social media.
That is probably not so simple as it sounds. Sure, social media presents free publicity and a method to have interaction with potential clients however provided that you do it effectively. That requires not solely a certain quantity of savvy concerning the way in which social media works but in addition time – a commodity that’s usually in brief provide. The identical is true of cultivating hyperlinks with native media retailers and arising with angles that journalists can use.
The advertising and marketing assist offered by Small Enterprise Saturday will help, however Ovens means that corporations may also unfold the advertising and marketing load by working with others. “You possibly can membership collectively together with your neighbors,” she provides.
This might imply actively selling one another’s companies or collaborating to prepare particular occasions. “You possibly can share the advertising and marketing and share the prices,” Ovens provides.
Extra basically, collaborating with friends additionally supplies a method for companies to interrupt out of their very own bubbles and speak to others about frequent issues and the way they are often solved.
It may typically really feel such as you’re the one individual dealing with specific challenges,” says Ovens. “So it’s useful to speak to others. So discover a tribe of individuals you possibly can simply chat with. There are numerous networking teams.”
Give Clients A Name To Motion
Finally although, with a purpose to enhance gross sales, small companies have to have interaction new clients. Ovens says present clients can play a component by means of the facility of advocacy. “It’s best to encourage your present clients to share their expertise, Ask them to inform their associates. Give your viewers a name to motion.”
And Ovens argues that small companies are likely to generate optimistic sentiment. They’re native. They provide a personalised service, full with recommendation concerning the merchandise they promote. They know they’ve to take care of a loyal buyer base and that feeds by means of to superior ranges of service. They go the additional mile. “And that’s the case whether or not you are an internet designer or a window cleaner,” says Ovens.
Initiatives, similar to Small Enterprise Saturdays are usually not silver bullets, however they do serve to remind clients of the significance of their native merchants. The problem for SMEs is to make use of the alternatives created by raised consciousness to inform their very own tales.