Small Business Saturday falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it’s the perfect hook for your small business marketing efforts. Here’s everything you need to know about it, and how your business can participate.
What is Small Business Saturday?
American Express launched the first Small Business Saturday in 2010 to create buzz and demand for local businesses, and to recognize the benefits they bring to their communities. National retailers may own Black Friday, and the online giants may claim Cyber Monday; but in only five years, Small Business Saturday has become a beloved, wildly successful retail tradition in its own right. It’s been fully embraced by the Small Business Administration, the federal government, and elected officials in every state. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 26.
Why should I participate?
For a tradition less than a decade old, Small Business Saturday has been an enormous success for local restaurants and businesses. In 2015, more than 95 million customers took advantage of the day, to the tune of $16.2 billion spent at local businesses in their communities. That was an increase of 8 percent over the previous year. With even more awareness and small business participation, Small Business Saturday 2016 promises to exceed all expectations.
How do I get started?
Getting involved in Small Business Saturday isn’t difficult. The first step is deciding how your business will recognize the day — that is, what will entice your audience to spend some time (and money) with you? Here are a just a few ideas for Small Business Saturday events and promotions:
- Specially priced merchandise, appetizers, drinks, or desserts
- A coupon or discount for every customer
- Free refreshments for store visitors
- Matched donations to a local charity
- A free gift with certain purchases
- A contest or raffle
- A limited-time-only item or entree
- A sidewalk sale (weather permitting)
- Personalized shopping service
- Free shipping or gift-wrapping
- Extended hours
Even if your business doesn’t hold a special event or promotion, you can still remind your customers via email and social media to “Shop Small” and “Dine Small” on November 26. To make doing so even easier, American Express provides free Small Business Saturday logos and graphics.
Last year, online shoppers using a tablet tended to spend more ($136 on average) than online shoppers using a computer or phone. Another great reason to mobile-optimize your site if you haven’t already.
How should I market Small Business Saturday?
Email is our favorite method, of course! Not to mention it’s one of the most effective ways to get your customers’ attention, even when they’re on the go. Follow these steps to create buzz for your own Small Business Saturday festivities:
- Send your first Small Business Saturday email about two weeks ahead of time. Friendly and informative emails work best. This is your initial opportunity to let your audience know that you’re celebrating Small Business Saturday, and to create awareness for those customers who aren’t familiar with it.
- Send a reminder email during Thanksgiving week. Travel, cooking, and family time create a blur of activity this week, so plan to send the reminder early on.
- Send a second reminder on Black Friday, or even early on Small Business Saturday itself. This is particularly important if your business isn’t typically open on Saturdays. Otherwise, you may want to skip this step.
- Thank your customers after the fact! Send one last email to everyone who helped make Small Business Saturday a success. If you raised money for a charity, this is the perfect time to let your contributors know how much money was raised. Thank you emails are a personalized touch that connects with your customers and keeps them coming back — the kind of benefit only a small business can provide.
Don’t forget social media
While you’re sending the emails above, post regularly about Small Business Saturday across all your social accounts. Use hashtags like #ShopSmall, #DineSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday, and #SmallBizSat to make your event searchable.
With just a little bit of planning, it’s easy to take advantage of the publicity and excitement surrounding Small Business Saturday.
Need a visual boost to get started? Check out three Small Business Saturday email campaigns in the PDF version of this article.