Small Business Saturday: here is your chance to connect with your neighbors

Nov 16
12 min read
Small Business Saturday allows consumers to support independent businesses, and it’s integral that businesses take advantage of the day to generate sales. Read on to learn how to utilize Small Business Saturday for your brand’s benefit to get the most out of the holiday for your business.
Small Business Saturday - image of a brewer

Small Business Saturday is quickly becoming a staple for many people around the United States as a shopping day. There is also a Small Business Canada and even Small Business Saturday in the UK -  on a different date. In fact, an estimated 49% of Americans planned to shop Small Business Saturday in 2021.

Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in 2010. In 2011, the day officially got acknowledged by the Small Business Association and had gained more traction with each year. The whole point of the holiday is to encourage people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Black Friday. Rather than competing with big box stores, the holiday allows small businesses to shine.

As a result of the pandemic, many people have turned to their local businesses to support them.

How to Sell More During Small Business Saturday

There is an assortment of things you can do for Small Business Saturday. We’ve gathered up the  best things you can do to make your Small Business Saturday the best yet and start seeing customers start rolling in. Consider using all of these tips to create a blockbuster event, or mix and match a few to create a memorable experience.

Use Your Email

One of the most overlooked ways to connect with customers before an event is email. A week before, send out an announcement to your mailing list that explains what Small Business Saturday is as well as what you are offering. To sweeten the deal, offer your mailing list an offer that’s exclusive to them, such as an additional 10% off or free gift with purchase. When planning your email campaign, you should plan. A series of three that resembles something like this:

·      10-14 Days Ahead – Send an email that announces your offer and Small Business Saturday. Expound on the benefits of shopping local.

·      7 Days Ahead – Send a reminder about your offer and a brief explanation on the benefits of Small Business Saturday.

·      Day Before – This is your last chance email, so make sure you get them out! Remind them about what your offer is and give directions on redeeming it.

To kick off your email campaigns, check out our free email templates specially built for your Small Business Saturday promos.

Use this event to build a relationship that will flourish all year long.

Know Your Identity

Before you begin your Small Business Saturday, you need to take your business’ identity into consideration. For starters, make sure you fully embrace your status as a small business! With so many franchises and off-shoot companies filling up shopping centers in town, you want to get attention on your business as a small, locally owned business. Remind your customers about your connection to the community and why you decided to open a business in your town.

Sharing your work in and connections to the community makes people know exactly who you are every time they go by your business.

Figure Out Your Angle

What are you planning on offering your customers this year? Do you want to give them a 10% discount on all new arrivals? Offer a free gift with purchase? Offer them a special discount on their next purchase after they spend a certain amount? Free gift wrapping? Think about what you’re offering your customers as a reward for shopping with your business on Small Business Saturday. That is going. To be the tool you use to get attention to your business and start attracting customers to walk through the doorway. If you can’t decide on something, think about what you’ve offered customers in the past. If you’ve had a campaign or deal that was popular in the past, do not be afraid to resurrect it for the holiday.

Personalize the Experience

You probably have an assortment of competitors, both locally owned and big box stores. Your competitors are going to offer specials and deals as well, so take the time to think about what you can do to make people want to purchase from you. A great way to do this is by offering personalized items. For example, if you sell cookies, offer a free cookie with a customer’s name on it. You’ll outsell Mrs. Fields any day! If you can’t personalize your items, look to offer unique packaging, extras or even a handwritten thank-you note to your customers.

Help people "fall in love with local"

Offer Customer Support

Your customers support you, so support them as well. Take the time to really emphasize to your team the importance of offering great customer service. Unfortunately, you’re going to run into an influx of customers’ questions (hours, address, specials), so now is the perfect time to create live chat support and have extra people on phones. If you are strictly online, look to make sure your website is running smoothly and that you are prepared for an influx of orders.

Remember Social Media

Social media accounts are an excellent way to attract customers. You can use the same schedule above as a guide for your social media posts, and an additional post on Small Business Saturday. Offer your social media followers a special deal if they come in. Or, consider a giveaway item for your followers. This strategy works well because it attracts people to your mailing list for one offer and your social media accounts for another.

Use Local Media

One of the most underutilized outlets is the use of local media. Radio and television stations are always looking for content, and your Small Business Saturday can be the perfect venue for the local media. Most likely, they will run ads for the event for you, telling their viewers/listeners when they will be at your store. This can help you receive an influx of customers while giving you free publicity. If you can’t host an event for the media to attend, consider taking out ads on your local television and radio stations to drum up publicity for your business.

Grab Some Freebies

You’re offering freebies to your customers, so be sure to grab some for yourself! American Express provides free customizable resources for small businesses to help them gain exposure, including free graphics and poster templates. Small Business Day Canada also offers a free toolkit including posters, a direct mail postcard, digital images and more. These items allow you to connect with customers while promoting your business for free with professionally designed items. Don’t forget free email templates specially built for your Small Business Saturday promos.

Forget Big Boxes

Here’s the deal, most small businesses simply are not able to compete with Big Box stores. Those stores get their items for incredibly low prices and can afford to slash their items to cost for doorbusters or at least enough to give huge percentages off while still making a profit. Your customers will not be expecting you to match Big Box prices. Instead, they want to support a local business. Although a small discount can help sweeten the deal, do not feel like you have to offer huge discounts to get people through the door.

Invite Celebrities

If you’re friends with an A-lister who’s in town, great! However, most of us don’t have that luxury. Instead, look to invite local celebrities to your store for the day. This can be someone who recently did something heroic, a local DJ or news reporter or someone who works in local politics. Regardless of who you’re bringing, you’re sure to get a fair turnout as people come to your business to meet their favorite person. If you’re dead set on getting a bigger name to help your business, consider getting a Cameo to use for advertising purposes or even to record a store greeting.

Get Graphics

Small business owners need to wear a lot of hats, and that includes creating their own graphics. Although this can feel like a lot to take on, there are numerous sites you can utilize that allow you to create eye-catching graphics with just a few clicks of a button. This can save you thousands of dollars over the course of the year, especially if you have an established style guide.

If you don’t have a style guide or the time to make your own graphics, consider hiring a graphic designer to work with you in preparation for Small Business Saturday. You can create a style guide and graphics that you can use all year long.

Share Your Story

One thing people love about Small Business Saturday is learning more about the business owners they’re purchasing from. This is the perfect time to share your story with your potential customers. Beyond email and social media posts, consider contacting a local reporter. Pitch them your story as well as the importance of supporting local businesses. This can allow you to share your story with hundreds or thousands of locals.

Get Charitable

There’s nothing people love more than giving back, and they also love to know their favorite store prioritizes giving back to the community as well. Rather than giving your customers discounts or freebies, consider giving a percentage of your sales for the day to a local charity. You can then present them with a check a few days later and post your results on social media as well as sending it out to your mailing list. This is an excellent way to give back while also garnering attention for your business.

Play Some Games

Who says that Small Business Saturday can’t host a little fun? Instead, create a game for your customers that gives them the opportunity to earn their discount or freebie. One of the most popular is a scavenger hunt or trivia contest! Whether you’re strictly online or in person, you can let your customers search your website for clues and have them submit answers through a special form or on your social media account.

Don’t Forget Flyers

Flyers are still an excellent way to communicate with people around town about your business. You can post them in public spaces with bulletin boards, such as coffee shops, as well community centers. Also don’t forget to put your flyers next to your register and in your windows so customers know to come visit you again on Small Business Friday.

Prepare Physical Stores

If you have a physical location, you’ll want to get it prepared for the Small Business Saturday rush! If you are offering free gift wrapping, now is the time to figure out which of your employees should work at your wrapping station. If you are giving away branded merchandise, get these items prepared. 

Remember to keep the momentum going and craft a couple email sign-up sheets to connect with your Small Business Saturday shoppers all year long. 

Think of Small Business Saturday as a New Beginning

Small Business Saturday is not only a time to attract new customers, but it’s also a time to assess how everything is going with your store. Do you need to bring on additional help for the holidays? Are you considering updating your security technology? Take the time to assess your business and what your goals are. Completing it during this time saves you a lot of stress during the start of the new calendar year and provides you with a head start for the new year.

Stock Up

Do you have a signature item in your store? Is there something that just flies off the shelves whenever you get it back in stock? The worst thing you can do is run out of stock of popular items before the holiday season kicks off. Strategically plan what you’re going to stock on both Small Business Saturday as well as for the rest of the holiday season rather than leaving it up to chance. Finally, make sure these items are in an easily accessed area in your store so customers aren’t looking left and right for them.

Partner Up

If you have a fellow small business owner friend or neighbor who sells products that pair well with yours, now is the time to partner up. For example, if you sell artisan chocolates and there’s a florist near you, consider partnering up for an exclusive deal. You can offer discounts to customers who purchase from your partner, sell product bundles or consider selling events (e.g., wine-tasting with cheese pairings). This allows you to strengthen your relationship with another small business owner in the community as well as allow your customers to discover other small businesses in the community.

Extend Your Hours

One of the great things about Small Business Saturday is the assortment of people who are going to come to your business as well as others in the community. However, your business likely doesn't have the same hours. As customers go from shop to shop, they may need more time to shop than your business hours can provide. If you’re able to, look to extend your hours to get those stragglers who may want to come in to shop or eat. Make sure you inform your customers of your extended hours on all your promotional materials as well as posting a sign in store.

Keep It Going

One of the biggest mistakes we see small business owners make when participating in Small Business Saturday is thinking, “I did a great event, now people will keep shopping here.” Unfortunately, customers have short memories. You will want to keep your momentum going by regularly updating your social media, sending out emails to your mailing list and sharing how successful the day was.

By reminding customers about you on a regular basis, you’re keeping them invested in your business.

Thank Customers

At the end of the day, your customers keep your business running, and letting them know how much you appreciate them can mean a lot. Take the time to thank your customers after Small Business Saturday is over. If you run an online-only business, take the time to write thank you cards to your customers and place them in your order. If you run an in-person business, have thank you cards to place in each bag. For both, take the time to send a “thank you” email to your email list to thank them for supporting your business.

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