This article was updated on November 18, 2020
Whether you're just starting or you've been running a business for a while, every local business owner should engage in Small Business Saturday. It's a great way to gain exposure in your neighborhood. Plus, it’s an opportunity to give local customers, who might have walked by dozens of times, a reason to walk through your door.
In fact, hundreds of millions of people shop Small Business Saturday each year, amassing billions of dollars in shopping.
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 28th , but it's already time to get prepped for this great event.
Here are some tips and ideas to make the day
successful for your local business:
#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 some pictures and text to a full-blown website.
Unfortunately, web development and content creation can take months, so if you’re looking for a faster way to gain local visibility, a good way to get started is to claim your Business Page on Nextdoor. Connect with verified residents, the people who live in your neighborhood and/or in close proximity to your business. This 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.
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 your website
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. Plus, mobile searches made by consumers on-the-go make up a large volume of potential clients, so make sure your site follows SEO best practices, and that it's responsive for mobile. 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. 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.
#4 Consider longer hours
Just like stores open crazy-early on Black Friday, many businesses 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 definitely want to have some sort of sale or incentive on Small Business Saturday. With that being said, it’s probably unwise to try to compete with big-box retailers. Instead, 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 set your business apart from big-box stores 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 above the competition. 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 fabulous prize. Or you could give a small gift to customers with their purchase or order.
#7 Reward customers for social interactions
Another way to put a smile on your customers' faces is by providing a discount or reward—like free gift wrapping—when they post about you on social media or check-in via social media platforms. Provide an incentive like "10% Off Next Purchase" if customers sign up for your email list. Alternatively, you can offer customers a free gift of their choice in exchange for a social post or review. You can even create a custom branded hashtag to use during the day as a way for you to track and reward your customers.
#8 Band together with other local businesses
One of the best things about Small Business Saturday is businesses helping businesses. Get together with other local businesses in your neighborhood to host a little 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.
#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. Explore their Facebook and Instagram and look through small business-related hashtags.
These are just a few ideas to make Small Business Saturday a success, but there are tons of ideas and tips out there. Talk to your fellow local small business owners to see what they're doing to engage consumers, step up your marketing game, and don't wait for people to show up.
Start promoting your participation as soon as possible, both online and in person. Let customers know you're doing Small Business Saturday now so they can help spread the word for you! Do some email marketing and social media marketing to share details like your store hours, giveaways, sale information, and more. Create a Nextdoor Local Deal to target specific neighborhoods close to your business and get the word out about your special promotion or sale.
Stay ahead of the curve by preparing like each Saturday is Small Business Saturday.
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.