Move over, Cinco de Mayo! This year, May 5 kicks off another holiday of sorts and one the US small business community has had circled all year long: National Small Business Week. For the past 56 years, we’ve set aside one week to recognize and celebrate the incredible contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. And, with 99.7 percent of US-based businesses qualifying as small businesses (500 employees or less) and a full 89 percent employing 20 or fewer, it truly is an understatement to say that small businesses are the engine that drives American progress, innovation and growth.
Small Business Week is a time to celebrate your business as a whole, the hard work you’ve put in to get it to the point it’s at today, the tremendous contributions of your employees and your broader local and/or industry small business brethren. But let’s not forget one key piece of the Small Business Week puzzle that can easily go unrecognized during this particular week of commemoration: your customers!
Small Business Week isn’t a holiday built around customer sales like Small Business Saturday or Black Friday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t connect with and honor your valued patrons during this important week on the small business calendar. With that said, here are a few tactics you might employ to engage with your customers and make them part of the celebration this Small Business Week:
Start in Your Backyard—Your local community cares about you and small businesses like yours. In fact, The UPS Store conducted a study and found that an astounding 94 percent of Americans believe shopping at small businesses is important. This makes sense considering that 68 cents of every dollar spent at local small businesses filters back to the community, a significant figure when contrasted with the 46 cents that stay local when coming from big box retailers. Host an event and invite the community to come celebrate Small Business Week with you and your employees. Create a promotion that offers special discounts, services or incentives for your local customer base tied to Small Business Week. Whatever you do, your Small Business Week customer recognition efforts should start with the local community.
Reengage Your Existing Customer Base—It’s easy to lose track of your customers after they’ve moved through the sales funnel, particularly if you work in an industry that deals in high volume sales. Small Business Week provides an opportunity to reconnect with these customers to let them know that you recognize and value the contribution they’ve made to your success. Let them know they are a stakeholder in your business and it is their patronage and support that has made the business what it is. If nothing else, this sort of message will engender positive feelings toward your business. Utilize a customer relationship management tool purpose-built specifically for small businesses to capture customer information related to product or service needs, their preferences in terms of how and when they like to be contacted and who their last touchpoint was at your business (and where they left things). Capturing and later considering this information in the course of your customer outreach leads to better, more meaningful customer interactions that ultimately lead to—you guessed it—more transactions!
Reward Your Customers By Rewarding Your Employees—Of course you’ll want to honor the employees who have been instrumental in your business’s success during Small Business Week. So why not reward your valued staff in a way that also benefits and recognizes your customers? Consider asking patrons to fill out a brief survey after purchasing your goods and services during Small Business Week, whether it be in store or online. For your employees, you might offer a generous bonus tied to how many surveys they can get your customers to fill out individually or collectively. And for your customers, you can offer a raffle prize that they can check the website to see if they’ve won at the end of the week. Finally, for you (and for the business) the results of this brief survey can provide invaluable insight into the minds of your customers (including the demographics of your customer base, what made them buy from you, what they like/dislike about your sales approach and products and much more). Plug every bit of the information you glean from this survey into your CRM database to utilize and help drive future sales and positive customer experiences.
Small Business Week is easy to rally behind as a way to honor America’s small businesses and, with a little thought, it can be an excellent opportunity to engage with your customers to make them part of the celebration as well. When small businesses succeed, customers win, the local community wins and the US economy wins. We’re all in this together and Small Business Week is the time to bring your customers in and recognize the role they continue to play in your small business’s success.