Big brands are having no trouble luring shoppers in with low prices and extravagant advertising campaigns this holiday season, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday leading the way. Meanwhile, small, local businesses must find other ways to get an edge. Naturally, most small businesses don’t have the cash flow for pricey advertising spots, or the merchandise volume to justify huge price reductions, so what are these organizations doing to compete with the “big fish?”
Many are using grass-roots tactics like word-of-mouth marketing to capitalize on current trends and put the pressure on supporting small, local businesses. Let’s face it, local is trendy these days, and most small businesses are not shy about touting the intimacy and personal touch small establishments have to offer over their larger counterparts.
In addition to capitalizing on the small/local trend, many small organizations now have access to a larger audience, thanks to technology and the Internet. Farmers’ markets, for example, epitomize the small/local movement and are adapting digital technologies to reach consumers. And, according to a survey from MerchantCircle, 12 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses have used deal sites such as Groupon.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that small businesses may have some help from larger companies with a vested interest in their success…
American Express: “Small Business Saturday”
In addition to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a new shopping day was recently coined: Small Business Saturday (along with a whole host of other designated shopping days… but that’s a topic for another day). The Small Business Saturday campaign is backed by American Express, who introduced this campaign by incenting consumers with a $25 credit on their AMEX card for shopping at small businesses that accept American Express.
Yelp small business email campaign
Yelp is also helping to push small business shopping this year, and even sent out an email, urging shoppers to patronize local businesses this holiday season. So what does Yelp, a purported $1.5 billion company, have to do with small businesses? Arguably, small businesses are much more likely to find value in Yelp reviews and therefore reciprocate the publicity. Put it this way: a small clothing boutique is going to place much more value in online customer reviews (and be more adversely affected by negative reviews) than, say, JCPenney. Likewise, you’re more likely to see the “people love us on Yelp” sticker in a local coffee shop, compared to the more ubiquitous Starbucks.
Have your holiday shopping behaviors changed this year? Are you feeling personal convictions (or pressure from others) to support more local/small businesses? How have the marketing campaigns of Yelp, AMEX and others affected your choices? Sound off in the comments, or contact me on Twitter or email. Happy holidays!