Small Business Saturday (SBS) takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving every year and encourages people throughout the U.S. to support small, local businesses.
American Express® launched SBS in 2010 because it can be hard for small businesses to compete with big businesses, especially around the holidays. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, small businesses can be lost in the crowd. Small Business Saturday switches the attention to small businesses and helps them kick off the holiday shopping season.
Small Business Saturday has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year. In 2016, consumers spent $15.4 billion at small businesses and restaurants on SBS.
Participating in SBS can help your business attract new customers and start your holiday shopping season off on the right foot. So, how do you get involved?
Start Preparing for Small Business Saturday Now
Small Business Saturday will be here in just over a month on November 25, 2017. Instead of waiting until the week of Thanksgiving, start preparing for SBS now.
Update Your Web Presence
Check out your website, social media accounts, and Google listing and make sure your address, contact information, and hours are correct. If you’re planning on extending your hours for SBS, start sharing that information on social media and your website.
Train Your Staff
Make sure your staff knows how to make a good impression and that they’re especially focused on customer service. If your employees make a good impression and go above and beyond on SBS, new customers will shop with you long after Small Business Saturday is over.
Plan Your Promotions
You won’t be the only business in your town participating in SBS, so make sure people have a reason to shop with you. You can offer a SBS discount or organize a giveaway.
Organizing a giveaway will help you make sales after SBS by helping you capture customer’s email addresses. After the giveaway, send an email to everyone who participated, thanking them for shopping with you and giving them more information about your business.
Inform Your Staff
Make sure your staff knows about any special deals or discounts you’ll be offering during SBS.
How to Advertise for Small Business Saturday
While you’re preparing for SBS, don’t forget to get the word out. No one will shop at your store on SBS if they don’t know you’re participating.
Jump on social media and tell your followers how you’ll be participating in Small Business Saturday.
Create a Facebook event. Invite all your Facebook followers and encourage them to invite their friends.
Consider hosting a selfie contest and start hyping it up now. Customers can take selfies in your store on SBS and a random customer will win a prize!
Whatever you post on social media, make sure to use relevant hashtags, like #ShopSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSat, and #ShopLocal.
A great way to utilize social media for SBS is to go live on Facebook or Instagram. You can promote the event live and share how you’re getting your store ready, or you can go live throughout the day on Small Business Saturday to encourage more people to come shop.
Send out an email to everyone on your newsletter list to get them excited for SBS. Offer an exclusive discount to newsletter members – all they have to do is share the secret word at checkout. Include the secret word in the first email you send and in an email right before SBS.
Use those free marketing materials you got from American Express and hang signage throughout your store telling customers that you’ll be participating in SBS.
Partner with Other Small Businesses
There’s strength in numbers, and your customers are likely to shop at many small businesses on SBS. Encourage your customers to shop at the businesses you’re partnering with.
Create a Gift Guide
Create a guide with your most in-demand products broken into holiday shopping categories – “Gifts for Your Wife,” “Gifts for Your Kids, Ages 8-12,”, etc. Your customers will have one less thing to worry about because you’ve already picked out the perfect gift for everyone on their list.
Send Holiday Cards
Send holiday cards to your existing customers and encourage them to get a jumpstart on their holiday shopping on SBS. By sending out cards early, you’ll show you care about your customers and they’ll be reminded why they love shopping with you.
Become a Neighborhood Champion
If you want to become even more involved in your community and SBS, you can become a Neighborhood Champion. A Small Business Saturday Neighborhood Champion encourages small businesses in their community to participate in SBS and rallies their community to support small businesses.
American Express expects Neighborhood Champions to do four things:
champion the Community Cause and encourage people to “Shop Small;”
organize a community event on SBS to bring the community and small businesses together;
encourage 10 or more small businesses to participate in SBS; and
distribute Shop Small merchandise, like tote bags, posters, and balloons.
If the thought of organizing a community event terrifies you, American Express has you covered there, too. They provide how-to guides for a welcome breakfast, a passport project, and a welcome station.
The morning of Small Business Saturday, host a breakfast for small business owners, so they’re energized throughout the day.
Create “passports” that customers can get stamped at each small business they shop at. Passport holders can get a freebie or special discount at each participating business.
If your community has several small businesses in one area, set up a welcome station for customers. At the welcome station, customers can pick up a list of participating businesses and a special treat. They might even be able to hear live entertainment.
Shop Small Year Round
After Small Business Saturday, encourage your customers and community to “Shop Small” all year long. There are 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S., according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Those small businesses create 2 out of 3 new jobs, so it’s important that your community supports your business throughout the year.