While the ideal method of getting new customers is through referral, all savvy small business owners know they need to market their business too.

Some sources say 5-10% of your turnover should be spent on sales and marketing. But marketing can cost a lot of money and if you’re just starting out you might be nervous of spending.

By getting involved with local and national campaigns and awareness days you can often benefit from free marketing – all you need to put in is planning and time.

Small Business Saturday takes place on December 5th and the aim is to support, promote and inspire small business just like you.

Whether you’re a local shop, online business or small manufacturer there are plenty of ways to get involved.

The first thing to do is sign up and get yourself listed on their small business finder. It’s amazing what you might find on your doorstep when you have a browse yourself. We found a web developer, wedding dress designer, a French tutor and even a taxidermist within a five mile radius of where we work!

Once you’re registered you can start using their logos on your website or social media streams to help you connect with more small business owners supporting the campaign. Last year the campaign received the support of local authorities and hundreds of MPs with 3.5 million views on social media so it’s well worth getting involved.

Here are some ideas for events; whether you’re an online business or on the high street:

  • Hold an in-store or online celebration to encourage people to contact you – you can get hold of posters and window stickers if you have a store
  • Organise a winter market with other small businesses
  • Collaborate with other small business to form a community discount scheme for the day e.g. 5% off participating businesses
  • If you’ve no one to collaborate with, just offer your own discount on the day – you can do this via an email to your subscribers, at the till in your shop or on invoices
  • Hold a small business networking event
  • Host a live twitter Q&A
  • Create and share videos to showcase your business on the day

If you’re planning an event, here’s how to raise awareness and get some free PR:

  • Contact your local paper and radio station, telling them what you have planned
  • Invite your local councillor / MP to your event
  • Display posters or digital logos to show you are joining in with the day
  • Use the hashtag #SmallBizSatUK on your social media updates
  • Tell the Small Business Saturday team about any plans you have they’ll give you a shout out via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

While it might be short notice for the 2015 campaign, it’s worth planning early for 2016. Every day for 100 days in the run up to the campaign, the Small Business team highlight one business to receive exposure on their social media channels and local press and also the opportunity to attend a reception in Downing Street with the Chancellor of the Exchequer – what a fantastic way to gain some PR and network with 99 other small business owners.

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