This article was updated on October 18, 2021
Whether you're just starting your business or you’re a neighborhood staple who's been around for years, Small Business Saturday provides huge opportunities for every local business owner. In fact, American consumers spent an estimated $19.8 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday in 2020.
Engaging in Small Business Saturday is a fantastic way to gain exposure in your neighborhood. Plus, it’s a chance to give local customers who might have walked by your front doors dozens of times a reason to finally step over the threshold.
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 get prepped for this great event.
Tips and Tricks to Make the Day Successful for Your Local Business
With 75% of small businesses owners having reported that COVID-19 negatively impacted their business, Small Business Saturday provides local businesses owners with an opportunity to reconnect with their neighborhood and improve earnings, too—whether virtually or in person.
The following Small Business Saturday ideas will make your business the talk of the town.
#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 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, and 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. Connect with registered neighbors —the people who are in close proximity to your business.
Having a presence on Nextdoor is a great way for locals to find you, leave recommendations, and 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. To that end, make sure your site follows SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices. Create a subscription service or rewards program focused on Small Business Saturday in addition to being mobile-friendly. That way, even people who can't make it to your store can still shop easily.
#3 Get Social
Being on social media is vital for small businesses. As of 2020, 420 billion potential customers are scrolling through various social media platforms daily, and over 54% of those users employ social media to find and research products and services. What does that mean for your small business? Huge profit potential.
Use social posts to promote a special deal you may be running or to increase brand awareness.
#ShopSmall and #SmallBizSaturday are the official hashtags for the event, so make sure you use them on your various social media channels. This way, consumers can find you when they search the hashtag, and AMEX may share your social media posts to give you even more exposure.
Another opportunity to gain exposure could be to invite a special guest to the Small Business Saturday event. You can have a speaker come and can create a photo opportunity or a hashtag so that customers can share images on social media to further advertise your business.
#4 Consider Longer Hours
Just like 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.
#5 Host a Sale
You'll want to have some sort of sale or incentive on Small Business Saturday. Opt for a lower 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
Many small businesses host contests or giveaways to drive engagement among holiday shoppers and increase sales. You could do a raffle, where each purchase earns customers a raffle ticket for a prize. Or you could give a small gift to customers with their purchase or order.
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. Partnering up with other local shops for a contest for Small Business Saturday allows for everyone’s business to gain more exposure and helps out other small businesses. This is done by promoting all the local businesses in each shop of the contest.
#7 Band Together with Other Local Businesses
One of the best things about Small Business Saturday is the concept of businesses helping businesses. Get together with other local businesses in your neighborhood 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.
Another way to promote small businesses is to reach out to the local press. They can write about your business whether it's a story about the brand's history, an interview with other loyal customers, or acknowledging small business owners. Having a section in the local media is a great idea to promote your brand for the holiday season.
#8 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—like free gift wrapping—when they post about your business on social media or check-in via social media platforms.
Alternatively, you can offer customers a free gift of their choice in exchange for a social post or review or provide an incentive like "10% off your next purchase" if customers sign up for your email list. You can even create a custom branded hashtag to use during the day as a way for you to track and reward your loyal customers.
#9 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. They have customizable promotional marketing materials, event planning ideas, year-round materials, and articles with marketing ideas to help you have a successful Small Business Saturday. Check out this invaluable resource for great promotional and marketing materials.
#10 Learn from Others
Take a look at the businesses featured on the Shop Small social channels. This is a great way to get inspiration and tips from small businesses that have already found success with Small Business Saturday.
These are just a few ideas to make Small Business Saturday a success, but there are plenty of ideas and tips out there.
Be proactive, step up your marketing game, and talk to your fellow local small business owners to see what they’re doing to engage consumers. Start promoting your participation as soon as possible, both online and in-person to let your customers know you're doing Small Business Saturday this year.
SimiCart. M-Commerce Statistics 2021. https://www.simicart.com/blog/m-commerce-statistics/
HubSpot. 75 Essential Social Media Marketing Statistics for 2021. https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/23865/13-mind-bending-social-media-marketing-statistics.aspx
Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.