Lessons for Small Business Saturday: Content Strategy, Big and Small

For a day when small businesses have time to shine, we explore their enduring appeal—and how to make the most of it in your content strategy.

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Small Business Saturday is almost here! November 30th will mark the 3rd-ever #SmallBizSat, a neato holiday meant to encourage everyone to shop at small, local, brick-and-mortar stores around our communities. Think of it as Mom-n-Pop’s own Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

But wait a second… How’d Small Business Saturday get so popular so fast? The collective willpower of small business owners synergized by social media? Nice thought, but nope. It’s all thanks to American Express, the $17 billion behemoth.

This got us thinking about content strategy, big and small—and how businesses of all sizes can take advantage of our preconceived associations.

Whether we realize it or not, we’ve all got certain stereotypes of big businesses: grey, cold, faceless multinational conglomerates just waiting to gobble up any hint of individuality or local color.

On the flip side, we think of small businesses as friendly mom-n-pops, singular spots that make your little neighborhood that much more unique. Watch this 30 second video on Small Business Saturday. What do you see? Real people connecting, smiling, laughing. Kids playing. Communities thriving. Why, it’s all as American as baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie.

Once you realize this, you can adjust your content strategy and copywriting to take advantage.

For small businesses, going toe-to-toe with the big boys may not be a fair fight, but you can offer something they can’t: you can make people feel good about where they shop. People naturally root for the little guy, they cheer to see David beat Goliath, and they feel good about supporting their own community. This is one of your greatest strengths as a small business—don’t ignore it!

So go ahead, emphasize your smallness by using it to reach out, build intimacy, and connect. Tout your human touch! Gab about your home-grown roots! Celebrate your community focus!

Big(ger) businesses, prove that faceless stereotype wrong. You don’t have to sponsor a whole holiday, but leave the corporate speak on the editing room floor. From web copy to product descriptions, get personal with your customers (heck, Amazon calls me Greg). Use “you” to address them. If you’re writing a blog post, slap a name and a smiling face on it! In fact, emphasize faces wherever you can (our brains are hardwired to read, remember, and connect with faces).

In short: local businesses can benefit by trumpeting their feel-good neighborliness; bigger companies can fight against the faceless Big Brother image by being warm, personal, and real.

Jean Tang

Jean Tang

A champion of high-end content, Jean is a living tribute to copywriting for humans. In 2012, at a TEDx talk, she declared her now widely viewed “War Against Bland.” The visionary founder of MarketSmiths, Jean leads her growing team to captivate, inspire, and motivate readers. She has helped thousands of global clients generate revenue from words (up to 12,000% ROI), and transformed the writing of hundreds of seminar attendees at the SXSW Interactive Festival (2014 and 2015), SXSW V2V (2014), the Small Business Summit (2014, NYC), and other venues.

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