Small Business Saturday is a national shopping day in the U.S. dedicated to supporting small businesses. It falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving — sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday — making it one of several high-volume shopping days in a row that kickoff the holiday season.
Started by American Express in 2010, the annual holiday calls on consumers to Shop Small® by opting to buy from local retailers or independent online businesses over big-box stores and large e-retailers. It encourages shoppers to consider the unique benefits that come from supporting small businesses, including finding one-of-a-kind items and helping the local community and economy thrive.
How can you make the most of Small Business Saturday?
For small business owners, Small Business Saturday can be a major source of sales as an increasingly large number of consumers hop on the bandwagon and prioritize supporting local and small businesses year after year. In 2020 — on the 11th annual Small Business Saturday — American Express found that U.S. consumers spent an estimated $19.8 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, up from $19.6 billion the year before. The same survey also found that 56% of shoppers made purchases from small businesses online, which was up from 43% in 2019.
With the popularity of small businesses continuing to grow at an impressive rate, there are several ways for small business owners to double down on the increased awareness this Small Business Saturday. This will not only boost sales and performance on the day but can also help earn loyal customers and supporters for the long haul.
Here are a few ways to gear up for Small Business Saturday in the days leading up to it, as well as some tips to put into motion on the big day.
Things to do in the days before Small Business Saturday:
Get the word out. A successful Small Business Saturday starts days or weeks before the big day. It’s important to create hype around the holiday and draw attention to why Small Business Saturday is significant, how your business will be celebrating, and if there’s anything unique customers can look forward to, like a special promo or sale. Use social media, email, and — if you’ve got a physical business — flyers/posters that you can hand out to customers or display in your shop windows.
Put your business on the map. That is, put it on the literal Small Business Saturday map from American Express. As the founders of Small Business Saturday, Amex has led the charge with branded resources and tools for both customers and small business owners, including a map that helps customers identify small businesses to support. If you have a physical shop, you can submit it to the Amex Small Business Saturday map and create a listing that boosts exposure and helps customers find you. There is one catch, though: only qualified businesses that accept Amex can currently get listed.
Partner up with other small businesses. There’s power in numbers, and joining forces with compatible small businesses to give customers something special can help you boost your brand exposure and reach a wider audience. Consider hosting a giveaway with complementary businesses, or launching a unique and/or limited-edition collaboration with a business that shares a similar target audience or like-minded customer base.
Plan a special treat for customers. You might decide to do something product based (e.g., dropping a new item, or offering a gift with every purchase), something cause-based (e.g., offering a percentage of your sales on Small Business Saturday to an organization in your local area to continue the ripple effect of supporting the community), or something different altogether. Whatever your approach may be, the secret to success will be to tease out your efforts to create awareness and excitement.
Things to do on Small Business Saturday:
Make some noise. It’s important for you to be vocal with your audience on Small Business Saturday. Schedule an email campaign to go out in the morning reminding contacts that you have special promotions going on for one day only, and take to social media to reiterate the significance of Small Business Saturday, promote your business, and reshare content that others may be tagging your business in.
Extend your hours. If you run a brick-and-mortar business, Small Business Saturday might bring in more foot traffic than usual, especially if you’ve drawn awareness to the day with flyers and social media campaigns. To make the most of your spike in shop visitors, consider staying open longer than you usually do.
Give walk-ins a special gift. Another day-of tip for brick-and-mortar businesses is to greet walk-ins with a little surprise that they can remember you by. Consider having branded stickers printed that customers can grab for free or printing a limited number of branded shirts or merch that you can raffle off to shop visitors. These simple gestures can surprise and delight shoppers — and make them likelier to support your business in the future.
Give new customers a reason to come back. Small Business Saturday helps increase brand awareness for your business, so make sure you have a marketing strategy in place that encourages new leads to shop with you after the day has come and gone. For example, you could create a promo code for select products or services that customers can use throughout the month of December for their holiday shopping. You could also tease out products or services that haven’t launched yet and might entice interested leads to keep an eye on your business going into the new year.
Collect customers’ contact information. Part of encouraging customers to come back is making sure that you can keep in touch with them beyond Small Business Saturday. Make sure to have a system in place to capture customer contact info, whether it’s an email pop-up on your website, an email collection box at checkout, or a signup form at the register of your shop.
Things to do after Small Business Saturday:
Thank your customers. Appreciation goes a long way when it comes to building loyalty and trust with your customers. Once Small Business Saturday is a wrap, be sure to express gratitude to everyone who made a purchase, engaged with your business, or helped spread the word about your products or services.
Share performance data from the day. For customers who actively made an effort to support small businesses on Small Business Saturday, it’s nice to hear about the impact their purchasing decisions made on business owners. If you can, consider sharing some stats about how shoppers supported your business this year, whether it was a boost in sales, a spike in foot traffic, or an increase in tags and callouts on social media. Presenting information like this through infographics and visual content can reiterate just how valuable small business patronage is to owners and communities. This content also has a high potential for resharing, which could further boost brand awareness.
Keep in touch. Small Business Saturday might only come around once a year, but the customers you acquire and awareness you gain on the day can positively impact your business year-round — just as long as you have a plan in place. Make it a point to keep engaging with new customers or leads through social media and email marketing, such as by creating a weekly email newsletter or posting consistently across social channels. This helps you build a stronger relationship with prospects and customers, and it keeps your business top of mind when they’re ready to make a purchase.