Nov 15, 2023 | 11 min read

14 Small Business Saturday ideas for your business

Whether you're just starting your business or you’re already a neighborhood staple that's been around for years, Small Business Saturday provides huge opportunities for every local business owner. In fact, American consumers spent an estimated $23.3 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday in 2021.

American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 to give small business owners a leg up in between the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday during the holiday season. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 27th, but it's already time to make preparations.

Getting Ready for Small Business Saturday

Preparing for Small Business Saturday can significantly boost your sales and visibility as a small business owner. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to prepare for Small Business Saturday:

Upcoming Small Business Saturdays over the next few years:

  • 2023: November 25th
  • 2024: November 30th
  • 2025: November 29th

Mark the Date: As a small business owner, plan ahead for the big day.

Digital Marketing: Use digital marketing to promote your Small Business Saturday sale ahead of time to attract potential customers.

Local SEO: Optimize your website for local SEO and update your Google My Business listing to be easily found by local customers.

Special Discounts: Offer special discounts and special offers to entice new and loyal customers.

Customer Service: Train your staff to provide exceptional customer service on this important day.

Marketing Ideas: Brainstorm creative marketing ideas to make your business stand out during Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Trends: Stay updated on small business trends to tailor your promotions to what's currently popular.

Remember to focus on these key elements to make the most of Small Business Saturday and attract new customers while rewarding loyal ones.

14 tips and tricks for a successful Small Business Saturday

Engaging in Small Business Saturday is a fantastic way to gain exposure in your neighborhood by providing you with an opportunity to reconnect with your neighborhood and improve earnings—whether virtually or in person. 

Get inspiration from the following Small Business Saturday ideas to help make this year a success.

#1 Create an online presence

If you don’t already have one, we strongly recommend developing an online presence for your business. This could include anything from a simple social media platform page with pictures and text to a full-blown website complete with:

  • A homepage to display your business’s brand identity
  • A landing page to make your visitors turn into customers
  • Product pages
  • A blog
  • Contact information

While web development and content creation can take months, a faster way to gain local visibility is to claim your Business Page on Nextdoor to connect with your neighbors —the people who are in close proximity to your business. 

Having a presence on Nextdoor is a great way for your business to get discovered, gather recommendations, and allows neighbors to reach out to you directly online. Getting local residents and local dollars into your neighborhood business is the goal of Small Business Saturday, after all.

Once you’re on Nextdoor, you can turn your attention to building your website for broader visibility online. Wherever you are online, make sure your hours and contact information are current so potential customers know where to find your business.

#2 Optimize for mobile

If you have an existing website, ensure it’s mobile-friendly. Studies show that users who search for local businesses on mobile are more likely to make a purchase. In fact, the number of mobile shoppers is expected to exceed 187 million by 2024 and mobile searches made by on-the-go consumers make up a large volume of potential clients. 

How can you optimize for mobile and harness the power of mobile purchases?

  • Make sure your site follows SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices
  • Create a mobile-specific web page
  • Offer an app for easy access to shopping, rewards benefits, and discount codes

#3 Get social

Being on social media is vital for small businesses. As of 2022, the average person spends 147 minutes scrolling through various social media platforms daily, and many of them use social media to find and research products and services. What does that mean for your small business? Huge profit potential.

Here are some ideas for harnessing social media power this Small Business Saturday:

  • Use social posts to promote a special deal you may be running or to increase brand awareness.
  • Promote and use the official hashtags for the event—#ShopSmall and #SmallBizSaturday. They’ll help consumers find your business when they search the hashtag, and AMEX may share your social media posts to give you even more exposure.
  • Create a social media photo op at your brick-and-mortar location on Small Business Saturday—offer a selfie with a local celebrity, a DIY photo booth, or a photo with your business’s branding.

#4 Consider longer hours

Just as stores open crazy early on Black Friday, many businesses also adjust their hours on Small Business Saturday. Consider extending your business hours for the shopping holiday so you can maximize sales.

But, if your business isn’t usually open on Saturdays, remember to:

  • Advertise your extended hours in advance
  • Update your website and social channels
  • Budget for the additional costs of staffing your store on a Saturday

#5 Host a sale

You'll want to have some sort of sale or incentive on Small Business Saturday. Opt for a discount or provide a coupon for customers to use during their next purchase to encourage repeat visits, especially if your customer base is local. 

Another strategy to catch consumers’ eyes is to offer unique and one-of-a-kind merchandise customers might not find elsewhere. Even if this strategy isn’t your bread and butter 365 days a year, try to spice up your offerings for Small Business Saturday in order to stand out and attract customers. 

Finally, if you are a brick-and-mortar business, chances are your customers will ‘stroll’ in, ready to browse without a specific deal in mind, so make sure you have outdoor signage that lets them know you have Small Business Saturday deals.

#6 Hold a contest or special promotion

 Come up with a Small Business Saturday event that is relevant to your business and target audience. It can even be as simple as a Saturday Sale. Many small businesses host contests or giveaways to drive engagement among holiday shoppers and increase sales. You could:

  • Offer a raffle, where each purchase earns customers a raffle ticket for a prize
  • Give a small gift to customers with their purchase or order (like a sticker or magnet)
  • Create a branded carnival-style game, like:
    • A wheel to spin for a discount on a purchase
    • A dartboard of discounts or prizes
    • A basketball hoop with a prize for free-throws

For example, in 2019 Tybee Island in Georgia held a scavenger hunt to attract customers to their main street of local shops for Small Business Saturday. Participants followed a list of clues that led them to various retailers and iconic island spots where they had to take selfies and create an online collage on Facebook. 

The winners were then selected at random and awarded prizes, which were donated by local businesses. In addition to the scavenger hunt, the town itself also offered free parking, special discounts, and raffles throughout the community.

#7 Band together with other local businesses

One of the best things about Small Business Saturday is the concept of locals helping locals. 

Get together with other businesses in your local community to host an event for the day. When you work with other local businesses or hold a community event, your chances of getting promoted by AMEX increase, meaning you'll be seen by even more people and in turn make more sales throughout the holiday shopping season.

#8 Reach out to local media outlets

Another way to promote small businesses is to reach out to the local press. They can write or post a video about your business via:

  • An article about your brand's history in the local economy
  • An interview with someone from your leadership team
  • A list of local business recommendations for Small Business Saturday shoppers

When they publicize your brand, make sure to let media outlets know if:

  • You’re offering a discount, promotion, or giveaway on Small Business Saturday
  • You’re adding additional shopping hours
  • You’re partnering with any other businesses during the holiday

Most importantly, don’t forget to spread the word about your media coverage on your social pages, on your website, among friends and family, and with your customers. 

#9 Reward customers for social interactions

Another way to put a smile on your customers' faces is by providing a Small Business Saturday discount or reward when they post about your business on social media or check in via social media platforms. 

  • Free gift wrapping
  • Free shipping
  • Branded merch, like a t-shirt or sticker

Alternatively, you can:

  • Offer customers a free gift of their choice in exchange for a social post or review
  • Provide an incentive for customers to sign up for your email list
  • Offer a product, service, or reward only available to customers who interact on socials

To optimize your social tracking and post-event analytics, create a Small Business Saturday hashtag for customers to use during the day.

#10 Use the Shop Small Studio

The AMEX Shop Small Studio, developed with business owners in mind, is an awesome place for Small Business Saturday resources. The platform offers:

  • Customizable promotional marketing materials
  • Event planning ideas
  • Year-round materials
  • Articles with marketing ideas to help you have a successful Small Business Saturday

The Shop Small Studio is an invaluable resource for promotional and marketing materials—don’t forget to share your creations on social, on your website, with printed signage, and on your Nextdoor Business Page.

#11 Get inspiration from your community

Take a look at the businesses featured on the Shop Small social channel to get inspiration and tips from small businesses that have already found success with Small Business Saturday. But, don’t forget to turn to other local brands in your area, exploring how they’re:

  • Leveraging AMEX-provided Small Business Saturday materials
  • Using social media to get the word out
  • Tracking their engagement, profits, and marketing efforts

Plus, chatting with other local small business owners is an excellent opportunity to plan for future collaborations and cross-promotions.

#12 Offer something special for kids

While your clientele is likely the adults in your community, don’t forget to market to the sharpest eyes in your community—local kids. 

Here are some ideas for incorporating younger shoppers (and engaging their parents) this Small Business Saturday:

  • Create a kid-friendly scavenger hunt around your business or with neighboring companies
  • Offer a Kids Corner with games, music, and books to occupy children while their parents shop — remember to station an adult nearby for supervision
  • Give a five-minute “how-to” workshop for kids who wander in with their parents, like:
    • How to sew on a button (for clothing retailers)
    • How to make a Shirley Temple (for restaurants)
    • Another simple “how-to” related to your industry

#13 Provide refreshments

If you’ve ever shopped on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday (or dedicated a whole day to holiday gift shopping), you know just how draining a multi-errand day can be. 

During Small Business Saturday, help customers put the pep back in their step by offering free or low-cost:

  • Coffee, tea, sodas, or other drinks
  • Salty snacks, like bags of chips
  • Sweet treats, like cookies or cupcakes

Or, if you’re a restauranteur hoping to attract customers during a big shopping day, offer a discounted menu item, a “bag lunch” option for clients to eat on the go, or bottles of water to help keep customers hydrated as they tackle their shopping list.

#14 Create a holiday gift guide

For retailers, restaurants, and service providers alike, a customized holiday gift guide can help accomplish a variety of goals this Small Business Saturday. Your guide could:

  • Feature a variety of products available at your store or nearby local businesses
  • Encourage “experience gifts,” like reservations at a local restaurant or a ticket to a nearby movie theater
  • Offer a reward to customers who purchase a certain number of items in the guide, like a discount or coupon to be used on their next visit
  • Double as a coupon book or ad space for other businesses
  • Incorporate “service gifts,” like an offer from a local service provider (e.g. a roof or plumbing leak repair)
  • Provide a list of worthy local non-profits for holiday season giving

Plus, it’s another opportunity for locals to interact with your branded material—a gift guide can give your community yet another reason to remember your name the next time they need your product or service.

Reach Your Community on Nextdoor and Beyond

These are just a few Small Business Saturday promotion ideas, but you’ll likely find countless suggestions out there. 

Remember that Small Business Saturday is all about interacting with and serving the community that helps you stay in business—the neighbors you know and love. When it comes to local engagement, there’s no better tool than Nextdoor

With a free Nextdoor Business Page, you can connect with potential or existing clients, gather recommendations, and share info about upcoming promotions or business updates. 

Get ready for Small Business Saturday by spending time on Nextdoor—one of the top places local shoppers will look for nearby businesses. 


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Author image Nextdoor Editorial Team At Nextdoor, we love local. The Nextdoor Editorial Team is dedicated to telling stories of local businesses, providing product education, and sharing marketing best practices to help businesses grow.