You’ve likely encountered Black Friday horror stories of rabid, deal-seeking hordes flooding into big box stores in the wee hours of the Friday after Thanksgiving. Luckily for you, Small Business Saturday is a much more wholesome alternative to Black Friday for small businesses, retail employees, and shoppers alike.
Small Business Saturday—the shop-small alternative to Black Friday—is a consumer holiday born out of values like community and sustainability. You’d be hard pressed to find someone fighting with their neighbor over the last handmade card at their local stationery store.
That’s not to say you want to have a sleepy Small Business Saturday, though. The whole point of the holiday is to get shoppers to patronize your small business for their holiday shopping.
What Small Business Saturday ideas can you put to work to make it your most successful SBS yet? We’ve compiled seven stellar marketing ideas to help you stand out this Small Business Saturday.
What is Small Business Saturday?
You’re already familiar with the basics of what Small Business Saturday is: the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday, meant to get people to shop and dine small. This year, Small Business Saturday is November 30, 2019.
But, did you know that Small Business Saturday was originally created by American Express? AMEX launched Small Business Saturday back in 2010 on the tails of the recession, with the goal of fostering local shopping and dining and ultimately fortifying small businesses.
The next year, the Senate unanimously passed an official bill in support of Small Business Saturday. And ever since then, Small Business Saturday has been gaining steady momentum. Over the past nine years (in just nine cumulative days total), Small Business Saturday spending has totaled $103 billion. Small Business Saturday 2018 was a record year that contributed $17.8 billion to that total.
So, a starting point for making your Small Business Saturday a success: take advantage of the free marketing resources that American Express provides. For instance, you can create customized marketing materials on AMEX’s website to market your business for the holiday.
Small Business Saturday ideas to stand out this year
Many small businesses take advantage of the free marketing resources that AMEX provides for Small Business Saturday, which means that these customized marketing materials won’t necessarily make your business stand out from the crowd.
Beyond taking advantage of widely available resources, you need to think up some unique Small Business Saturday efforts to attract customers. Read on for seven ways to go above and beyond with your Small Business Saturday marketing efforts:
1. Feature Fellow Local Businesses on Your Social Accounts
Try tapping into the community focus of Small Business Saturday by featuring fellow local businesses on your social account in the days leading up to Small Business Saturday. Pick your favorite local businesses, have a quick conversation with owners about their missions and offerings, and snap a photo to feature. In the captions of your posts, describe each business and encourage followers to visit them on the big day.
This Small Business Saturday idea could provide valuable exposure to your fellow small businesses. Plus, you can encourage each featured small business to share the posts to its own social media accounts, which could ultimately provide your small business with exposure as well.
2. Market an Exclusive Small Business Saturday Deal
Consider providing deals that are exclusive to Small Business Saturday. Now, there’s no need to take it to extremes and turn Small Business Saturday into Black Friday. But creating and marketing a special, one-day offer is a great way to get customers to pull the trigger on a small business purchase.
Say, for instance, you run a photography business—you could offer a special holiday card photoshoot deal on Small Business Saturday. This idea not only taps into the deal-seeking tendencies exhibited by shoppers during the weekend after Thanksgiving, but also plays to the winter holiday spirit that defines this shopping experience.
3. Create Gift Guides for Hard-to-Shop-For Personas
Many Small Business Saturday shoppers are flummoxed by what to get their loved ones, colleagues, and employees for the winter holidays. Make it easier for them by creating gift guides for those hard-to-shop-for personas. Of course, you should include many of your own inventory or service options in the guides. But, in the spirit of Small Business Saturday, you could also feature the goods or services of other local small businesses.
Be sure to print out in-store copies so that customers can easily reference them as they shop. You could even see if the featured small businesses are willing to distribute the gift guides in their own stores, as well. Don’t forget to post these gift guides on your small business’s website—this makes for easy online sharing and shopping.
4. Post in Local Facebook Groups
Many Facebook groups have a local bent to them. Neighborhood watches and buy-sell-trade groups are all local by nature, so posting your Small Business Saturday marketing materials in these types of Facebook groups is a great way to reach nearby consumers.
Posting within these communities also adds a human touch to your marketing efforts: posting as yourself, a neighbor of those in the group, can remind shoppers of the reason why Small Business Saturday exists in the first place—to support the local economy.
5. Flyer Throughout Your Town
Another Small Business Saturday idea for marketing specifically to those in your community? Putting up custom flyers at local hot spots. Think grocery stores, farmers’ markets, movie theaters, community events, and schools. If you have the time and resources, consider designing your own flyers that stand out from the piles of AMEX Small Business Saturday posters that your competition may be using.
6. Offer Holiday Snacks and Festivities
For many, Thanksgiving signals the unofficial start of winter. Generally speaking, shoppers want to feel the holiday spirit as they’re doing their holiday shopping. Serving hot cocoa, stringing glimmering lights, and playing festive holiday music are a few simple things you can do to make your business more appealing to customers on Small Business Saturday. Go above and beyond by offering gift wrapping and perhaps even an in-person holiday gift consultation.
7. Move Beyond the Storefront
One last Small Business Saturday idea to make your business stand out: move beyond your storefront, restaurant, or office space. If your area has a solid amount of foot traffic and you own the space in front of your business, have a sidewalk sale. Take to a Small Business Saturday pop-up market to reach more customers if your small business is online or a bit more remote. If you choose to set up a booth at a market, don’t forget to purchase vendor insurance for the day.
Small Business Saturday ideas: some final thoughts
Small Business Saturday offers a lighthearted, community-focused answer to the frantic consumerism that seems to take hold of shoppers on Black Friday. The best Small Business Saturday ideas for marketing your business emphasize this general truth. No matter which Small Business Saturday ideas you decide to run with, be sure to keep the community-centric nature of the big day as your North Star.