Cash Mobs: Flash Mobs for Small Businesses

You may have heard of a flash mob: a group of people meet at a certain time and place and begin “spontaneously” dancing a routine. But what in the heck is a “cash mob?” And why are businesses all over the United States (and other countries)  clamoring to get involved in them?

Cash Mobs

Cash mobs were first seen in 2011. The idea is to get people into local businesses to shop and support them. Consider cash mobs the people’s stimulus package, to help small businesses. Participants are encouraged to visit a particular business on a given day or time period and spend at least $10 or $20. Many spend more, and that’s exactly what struggling small businesses need right now.

Do Cash Mobs Work?

The proof is in the pudding: in Mount Clemens, Michigan, one business that participated in a cash mob there saw a 600% increase in sales over the previous weekend. Another doubled its Saturday afternoon sales as a result. People are waiting in lines that wrap around the block just to make a purchase in honor of the cash mob.  There are dozens of other stories of small businesses seeing an injection of cash as a result of these pop-up sale days.

Why Do Consumers Flock to Cash Mobs?

In the same way that liking Pinterest is cool, being a part of a cash mob is, too. It’s being a part of a story, and people like that. Cash mob organizers are using social media to announce locations and get collective buy-in from consumers, who help spread the word to their friends on Facebook and Twitter. And supporting local businesses is always something that makes people feel good.

Get Involved in International Cash Mob Day

Thanks to the growing popularity of cash mobs (there are over 100 cities that have created them in the U.S.), March 24, 2012, has been designated International Cash Mob Day. If you’d like to start cash mobs in your city, here are some steps for doing so, as well as some general rules you can apply to your city’s cash mob program. Here are some other tips for getting started:

  • Starting a cash mob just for your business can inspire other local business owners to get involved.
  • On Twitter, @CashMobs offers support to other cash mobs around the world. Get in touch to get their support.
  • Work with your local government to generate wider support and get more small businesses involved.
  • Put out a press release and send it to your local paper.
  • Post the event on Facebook, the way San Diego’s Cash Mobs group did.
It will be interesting to see how more cash mobs might affect the health of small businesses. After all, it’s the small things (like one person spending $10) that add up to success.

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Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

11 Reactions
  1. It’s a great concept that can have a significant impact on a local business. Now we just need to get the online version of the cashmob going.

  2. I love the idea of this, Susan. Hadn’t heard of it and so glad you wrote it up! Thanks. I hope this continues for a long time.

  3. @Rudy–
    Great idea! And one I’m sure someone will organize!

    Keep your eyes open. My bet is one pops up in your area soon.


  4. Martin Lindeskog

    Susan: Philosophy speaking I have a problem with the word, “mob.” My mind is thinking about mafia activities by a “disorderly crowd of people.”

  5. @Rudy – there already is we call it Money for Main St. A social lending network that focus specifically on small business.

    Ultimately it is the power of the purse to help restore the small businesses that have struggled so dearly the last three years. Cash mobs are an immediate impact but some time businesses need a bit more and we need to support them.

    • Brian, thanks for sharing about Money for Main Street. Wasn’t aware of that network.

      However, do keep in mind that getting loans is not the same as customers buying.

      – Anita

      • Anita – I totally agree with you on this point.

        The liberating effect of generating revenue, both here and around the world, as well as the impact it has on individuals and communities is amazing. The ability to imagine, design, create and then share ones product, service, or knowledge is capitalism at its finest. Cash mobs provide pinpoints of fuel to help business and ideas grow and survive.


  6. @Brian–
    Thanks for your insight!


  7. I love this! I don’t have a brick & mortar, but don’t see why we can’t participate with our web sites.

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