Small Business Saturday: Start Planning NOW!

Wedged in between the sales juggernauts known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday is another holiday: Small Business Saturday. This day celebrates the “little guys,” those businesses upon which our great nation was built: mom-and-pop shops, eclectic boutiques, entrepreneurs going it alone, and the corner stores that have been around for decades.

Founded in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday “has grown into a movement that millions of individuals, businesses, and communities have embraced nationwide—and continue to support each and every day.” The U.S. Senate officially recognized Small Business Saturday in 2011, and millions of shoppers and hundreds of stores have participated since the original day on November 27, 2010.

This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 30.  Are you prepared? Now’s the time to get started!

1. Educating customers about Small Business Saturday is essential. Once people learn about the day—and the reasoning and goals behind it—they’re usually excited about taking a break from the malls and big box stores and participating on a local level. The goal is to celebrate small, local businesses and to give people a great alternative to the madness of Black Friday.

Give them reasons to stop by other than the fact you’re a local business. Use this day as an opportunity to thank your customers for their support throughout the year. Consider:

  • Sales – the bigger and splashier, the better. Get buy-in from your suppliers by negotiating deep discounts on a couple of key items and slash margins to really offer shoppers something to get excited about
  • Extended hours – make it easy and convenient for people to drop in
  • Exclusive offerings – sell something that will only be available on that Saturday in-store
  • A wonderful retail experience – offer free coffee and pastries in the morning, wine and cheese in the afternoon, maybe even free chair massages

2. Determine whether you’ll team up with any nearby businesses. There’s power in numbers, as the saying goes. If you combine forces with other local businesses in the area, you could cross promote to their audiences and split/share marketing expenses. For example, when you send out an email to your list, you could include an offer or two from other area businesses (and they could do the same when sending an email to their lists). Shoppers will feel like it’s worth the trip if the area is a little out of the way.

3. Create your must-have marketing materials. At a minimum, plan on the following:

  • Three promotional emails: The first should go out in early November announcing the line-up/plan for Small Business Saturday. The second should go out a few days before Thanksgiving. The third should go out early on Saturday morning. If you have time, you could sneak one in on Black Friday as well.
  • Social media:   Draft and schedule posts and tweets now since Thanksgiving week is so hectic. Start pre-promoting in early November, but get more aggressive with your social outreach Thanksgiving week, especially on Black Friday and throughout the day on Saturday. During the actual event, be sure to take pics of your store and patrons throughout the day and share on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter #SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall. You could even tell people to be on the lookout for coupons that are available only through social media.
  • In-store signage and flyers. Make sure you have signage in the store (especially at all registers and customer service areas) reminding people about the big day. Starting in early November, consider including a flyer with each customer purchase (put it in the bag or hand it out when you give a person his or her receipt).
  • Promotional products to use as giveaways. Remember, promotional merchandise keeps advertising your business long after the customer has left your store. Here are some tips on choosing the right promotional product.

4. Consider wildcard ideas. If time and budgets allow, consider:

  • Advertise on Facebook. The nice thing about Facebook advertising is you can create targeted ads based on people’s location and interests. Plus, you can set your daily budget. Run the ads right before Thanksgiving, throughout Black Friday, and through the first half of Saturday. When people click on an ad, they should land on a website page where they can download an exclusive coupon (only people who click the Facebook ads would have access to the coupon).
  • Holding a raffle. Big raffle items (e.g. gift certificates, hard-to-get concert tickets, sporting tickets, popular toy of the year) can be a big draw. Make sure you promote the raffle items on all of your marketing materials.
  • Creating a charity tie-in. It is the holiday season, after all. Consider using Small Business Saturday as the kick-off event for your holiday charity fundraiser. For example, if you own a clothing boutique, encourage people to bring in their old winter coats for a clothing drive. For each coat they bring in, they’ll get $10 off a purchase in your store.

5. Keep up with what other businesses are doing.  Like the Small Business Saturday Facebook page, which is bound to serve up lots of ideas leading up to the big day. And check out the official American Express Small Business site. There are tons of marketing materials and great ideas to take advantage of this promotion for both store fronts and web stores.

Thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment below. How are you going to celebrate Small Business Saturday? What resources did you find useful on the AMX Small Business site?

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3 thoughts on “Small Business Saturday: Start Planning NOW!

  1. Hi Allison,

    What an enlightening post! This is stacked with incredibly valuable information.

    I am looking ahead to employing the extraordinary resources you have shared. This holiday is a great opportunity to grow for small businesses and the strategies you mentioned before are an amazing resource to develop. Thank you!

    I am presently working for a start-up called Efortles, which aspires to empower small business owners. Currently, we offer CPA services for free, which is just the initiation of our objective to eliminate all obstacles confronting small businesses.

    I will certainly share this information with all my friends, customers, and associates. Looking ahead to your next post.

  2. Thank you so much for your kind words Melanie. We really appreciate you taking the time out to let us know how much you enjoyed this blog. We’re happy to see you find the information helpful and valuable. Good Stuff and thanks again!

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