It’s not too early to start ramping up for the holiday season, particularly Small Business Saturday.
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25 Fantastic Small Business Saturday Ideas
Published: Sep 5, 2023 by Lisa Price
It’s not too early to start ramping up for the holiday season, particularly Small Business Saturday. We have Small Business Saturday ideas that you can start organizing now. Your existing customers already support small businesses; Small Business Saturday is the perfect opportunity for the small business owner to engage more customers.
What Is Small Business Saturday?
American Express created and promoted Small Business Saturday in 2010, during the aftermath of the U.S. financial crisis when many small businesses were struggling. The idea was to encourage consumers to spend money in their local community, at small, independent businesses, rather than at large big box stores, especially during the holiday shopping season.
Small Business Saturday annually happens on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, sandwiched between the more widely recognized shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when consumers shop online. In this context, Black Friday traditionally focuses on big-box retailers and Cyber Monday is oriented towards business online shopping. Small Business Saturday, then, provides a dedicated day to highlight and support local small business owners.
Why Should Small Businesses Participate in Small Business Saturday?
Small businesses should participate and enjoy the support of the local chamber of commerce, small business groups and municipalities. Since its inception, Small Business Saturday has gained significant traction.
It’s the perfect chance for the small business owner to build a list of loyal customers.
- Increased Visibility: Participating in Small Business Saturday can amplify a business’s presence during the competitive holiday shopping season. The widespread promotion surrounding the day can help draw attention to local businesses that might otherwise be overshadowed by large retailers.
- Support from the Community: Small Business Saturday fosters a sense of community and encourages consumers to consciously choose local businesses. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and the establishment of long-term relationships with local patrons.
- Access to Promotional Materials: American Express and other partners often provide free marketing materials, both physical and digital marketing, to businesses participating in the event. This reduces marketing costs and offers professionally designed resources to promote their business.
- Networking Opportunities: The day often sees local chambers of commerce, business associations, and other community groups organizing events or promotions. Participating in Small Business Saturday can provide opportunities for local businesses to collaborate, share resources, and potentially gain new business partners.
- Economic Impact: Money spent at local businesses tends to stay in the community. By driving sales on Small Business Saturday, business owners not only boost their own bottom line but also contribute to a stronger local economy, benefiting other businesses and the community at large.
Top Small Business Saturday Marketing Ideas
1. Shop Local Campaign
Collaborate with other local businesses and the community to create a unified Shop Small advertising campaign, even creating a local shopping guide. Pool resources for more visibility or to design paid ads. Involve local media such as the local newspaper or radio station.
2. Limited Time Offers
Create special promotions or discounts that are available to those who shop locally during the Small Business Saturday event.
3. Loyalty Discounts
Encourage your most loyal customers by offering them special deals when they Shop Small that day.
4. Pop-up Events
Host pop-up shops or collaborate another local business or businesses to offer joint sales or events. If the weather is good, consider using a local park where customers can gather for special sales or events.
5. Themed Merchandise
Release special edition products or services themed around Small Business Saturday.
6. Local Artist Showcase
Feature products from local artisans or feature live demonstrations. These are great ways to increase foot traffic.
7. Social Media Countdown
Start a countdown with social media posts a week or more before the day with daily posts or a blog post highlighting services or deals for local consumers. Then, have a kickoff event to start the day.
8. Gift Wrapping Service
Offer free service of complimentary or unique gift wrapping for purchases made on Small Business Saturday. You might enlists members of a local service group to perform this service and show their enthusiasm for supporting small businesses.
9. Live Music
Hire local musicians to perform, creating an inviting ambiance. Or invite members of local school bands.
10. Giveaways and Raffles
Host a giveaway or raffle with every purchase, offering the chance to win a free gift, prize, or service. Offering free gifts and services are common Small Business Saturday promotions.
11. Shop Local Tote Bags
Design reusable tote bags promoting “Shop Local” for the first X number of customers who Shop Small. Reusable totes are popular and show the customer’s support of the Small Business Saturday sales.
12. Extended Hours
Extend your business hours for early birds or late-night shoppers. Other participating businesses can offer similar hours.
Popular Small Business Promotion Events and Ideas
13. Collaborate with a Cause
Partner with a local charity and donate a percentage of the day’s sales. You can also collect donations.
14. Free Samples
Offer free samples or demonstrations of your products. Utilize social media in the days leading to the event to advertise the times of the demonstrations. Offer free coffee.
15. Interactive Workshops
Host classes or workshops related to your unique products/services to further reach out to your niche market. Advertise the times on social media platforms.
16. Promote User-Generated Content
Encourage customers to share information about their their purchases on social media using a unique hashtag. Hashtags are a popular part of social media marketing and help your business stand out from others with social media followers.
17. Email Newsletter Blast
Send a special newsletter to your mailing list highlighting exclusive deals. Digital marketing is powerful, but for an “all in one platform’ use all the advertising methods available. Don’t overlook email marketing. Get information from your customers that day, so that they can be added to your list of email subscribers.
18. Partnership Discounts
Boost sales when you collaborate with neighboring businesses to offer exclusive discounts when customers shop at both places.
19. In-Store Events
Host a special event like a fashion show, product launch, or meet-the-maker session as a key focus of your Small Business Saturday marketing campaign. A special event may encourage people to stop by, especially if seating is available for weary shoppers.
20. Instagram/Facebook Live
Go live showcasing products, behind-the-scenes looks, or interviews with staff. You can even interact and interview new customers.
21. Loyalty Member Pre-Sale
During the week leading to the Small Business shopping holiday, offer a pre-sale or early access to deals for loyalty program members.
22. Street Fair
Collaborate with other businesses to organize a mini street fair or market to help drive traffic to a specific area.
23. Feature Customer Testimonials
Highlight customer reviews or testimonials in your promotions, showcasing the value of your product or service. Use social media channels to showcase the reviews and testimonials, further building relationships.
24. Referral Discounts
Offer discounts to customers who refer friends or family. Having loyal customers spread the word about your business will help you reach your target audience of potential customers.
25. Thank-You Notes
Include handwritten thank-you notes with each purchase to personalize the shopping experience and thank people for shopping locally.
|Shop Local Campaign
|Collaborate with other local businesses & community for a unified campaign.
|Boosts community engagement & visibility.
|Limited Time Offers
|Special promotions or discounts available only on that day.
|Increases urgency to buy.
|Special deals for most loyal customers.
|Rewards loyalty & encourages repeat sales.
|Collaborative events or joint sales with other local businesses.
|Increases foot traffic & offers variety.
|Release special edition products/services for the day.
|Enhances product uniqueness.
|Local Artist Showcase
|Feature products or live demonstrations from local artisans.
|Draws attention & supports local talent.
|Social Media Countdown
|Daily posts or blogs leading to the day highlighting deals/services.
|Gift Wrapping Service
|Offer unique or complimentary gift wrapping.
|Adds value to purchases.
|Hire local musicians or school bands to perform.
|Enhances store atmosphere.
|Giveaways and Raffles
|Offer a chance to win gifts or services with every purchase.
|Entices purchase & excitement.
|Shop Local Tote Bags
|Offer reusable totes promoting “Shop Local”.
|Enhances brand visibility beyond the store.
|Longer business hours for varied shopper schedules.
|Accommodates more customers.
|Collaborate with a Cause
|Partner with local charities for sales donations.
|Shows community support & drives sales.
|Demonstrate or give out product samples.
|Encourages product trial.
|Host niche classes or workshops.
|Engages & educates customers.
|Promote User-Generated Content
|Encourage social media sharing with unique hashtags.
|Increases online visibility & engagement.
|Email Newsletter Blast
|Special email to mailing list highlighting deals.
|Directly reaches dedicated customers.
|Collaborate for discounts when shopping at multiple businesses.
|Drives multi-business sales.
|Host special events like product launches or fashion shows.
|Offers unique shopping experience.
|Live showcases or interviews.
|Real-time engagement & product visibility.
|Loyalty Member Pre-Sale
|Early access to deals for loyalty members.
|Rewards loyal customers & drives early sales.
|Joint fair or market to drive traffic.
|Encourages community engagement.
|Feature Customer Testimonials
|Showcase customer reviews in promotions.
|Builds trust & credibility.
|Discounts for customer referrals.
|Expands customer base & rewards loyalty.
|Personalize shopping experience with handwritten notes.
|Adds a personal touch & shows appreciation.
When Did Small Business Saturday Start?
Small Business Saturday was created and promoted by American Express in 2010, during the aftermath of the U.S. financial crisis when many small businesses were struggling. The idea was to encourage consumers to spend money in their local community, at small, independent businesses, rather than at large big box stores, especially during the holiday shopping season.
How Much Do People Spend on Small Business Saturday?
- In 2019, an estimated 110 million consumers shopped small on Small Business Saturday, and they reportedly spent a record high of approximately $19.6 billion at independent retailers and restaurants.
- In 2020, the spending dynamics shifted somewhat due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even so, 68 million consumers were reported to have shopped small, spending an estimated $19.8 billion on Small Business Saturday.
- In 2021, 51 million shoppers participated in Small Business Saturday.
- Nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) holiday shoppers plan to participate in Small Business Saturday 2022—more than Black Friday (56 percent).
- Around 34% of consumers have plans to shop on Small Business Saturday, an increase from 30% in 2020.
- Total reported spending among U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants to promote Small Business Saturday reached an estimated $23.3 billion in 2021, up 18% from $19.8 billion in 2020 and an increase from pre-pandemic spending in 2019 ($19.6 billion).
How Can Small Businesses Attract Customers During the Holiday Shopping Season?
One of the best ways to attract customers is by participating in Small Business Saturday. Not only will you attract new customers to your small business, you may meet and partner with other small business these ships may last long after the holiday season, once the contact has been made.