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Small Business Saturday ideas for coworking spaces
The post-Black Friday tradition of shopping local can work for coworking and flex office spaces, too! Here’s how.
Believe it or not, the juggernaut that is American Express created Small Business Saturday a dozen years ago. But whatever its origins, it’s become a national movement that acts in counterbalance to the consumer madness of Black Friday on the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
In a world where we shop online faster than we can get to the store, Small Business Saturday is a bit of a time capsule. It takes us back to analog shopping, wandering from store to store, and enjoying the holiday spirit.
There are specific ingredients that consumers want from Small Business Saturday that play right into your wheelhouse as a coworking space owner: local, independent, and impactful.
Local: Consumers feel Small Business Saturday is when they spend their dollars in their community. They like the idea of their money going back into the neighborhood.
Independent: Shoppers want to know they’re supporting their neighbors, rather than franchises.
Impactful: Buyers are drawn to sustainable, artisanal, and cause-based businesses on this day. But not charitable, necessarily, as Giving Tuesday has always gained traction in recent years.
96% of Small Business Saturday shoppers say that the positive social, economic and environmental impact of their purchases are what matters most to them. It’s all about showing the customer their purchase is making a difference.
So here are a few ideas for your coworking space to participate in the Small Business Saturday fervor.
First, submit your business’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) through American Express’s merchant profile page to verify your business. Then confirm your shop’s location on the map (you’ll need to toggle on the “Show on Shop Small Map” option to see it). They also offer marketing resources and suggestions.
Host a popup market. Starting with your membership, invite craftspeople, artists, makers, and service providers to set up tables in your space. These folks often have to pay $100 or more for a booth or tent at street fairs.
You can charge them, but if your goal is to drive foot traffic in your space, then offering cheap if not free space is the way to go. Include something for kids so parents can shop for a few minutes. Maker tables with coloring or crafts are easy to set up.
Be the HQ for other small businesses. So many micro-business owners and service providers work out of their homes and can’t participate on Small Business Saturday in a meaningful, high visibility way.
On Small Business Saturday, you could open your doors to them, in addition to your own members of course, as a way to support all small businesses in your town. Create a signup sheet for small business owners. (Who then become leads that you nurture going forward!)
Connect with local BNIs or Small Business Meetups to get participation. Ask your members to refer other business owners they know.
Link up with as many of your local business owners as possible. Promote each other. Shoppers love the idea of walking from business to business. Learn what each storefront is doing, and drive traffic between you. Pool your dollars through your chamber of commerce for advertising and promotion. Offer discounts to each other’s core audience and cross-promote through your email and social media.
Office Hours with Santa. If you don’t want to ‘sell’ anything during Small Business Saturday, parents will love the opportunity for a cute picture of their kids with Santa. Create a signup form for 10 minute time slots over the course of a few hours. Make sure your members have the first opportunities, but then promote it to the public!
Use pre-made templates for advertising and social media. Canva already has a ready-made collection of graphics you can customize for your own use, adding your logo and your details, then promoting online and in print!
Create a can’t-miss offer. When people wander through your space on that Saturday, be ready with something they can’t resist: a free week trial. Update all your marketing material, and make it incredibly easy for visitors to sign up. Have tablets ready to capture email so you can send them details. And be ready to nurture with email marketing and social media after the fact!
Host a ‘Pause for Paws’ or adopt-a-thon with your local animal shelter. Thanksgiving is stressful for a lot of people, and shopping can be truly nerve-wracking. Offer your local community the chance to come into your space and meet adorable dogs, get some mental health boosts of dopamine, and maybe even meet a new family member!
Create an open house/refer-a-friend party. Your coworking space members are your best customers. And they’ll sell your space for you better than you can. Host a happy hour where members can bring a friend who will then get a free week pass. If the friend joins, your member gets a discount! Then have a drawing for a super giveaway: a free year! (Or maybe 6 months or a month. Whatever you’re comfortable with.)
No matter how you participate in Small Business Saturday, it’s truly a day to shine a light on your coworking space and your members. Connecting with other businesses, opening your doors, promoting your members are all ways to participate and get value from this commercial opportunity.
Tell us what your coworking space did for Small Business Saturday!
We want to celebrate how coworking spaces showed up on Small Business Saturday, so tag us in your social media and we’ll publish a wrap up and celebration with you in it!