For major retailers, there’s Black Friday. But for small business owners, Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) is where the action is. You’ll want to develop a marketing plan to take advantage of this great sales weekend. In this article, you’ll get tips on developing your Small Business Saturday marketing plan.
This year, Small Business Saturday is November 27, 2021. Last year, a lot of holiday shopping was online. This year, more consumers will be returning to stores, plus shopping online and take advantage of community (outdoor) markets. Small business owners can implement these marketing tactics to drive online or in-store traffic, to end the year with a burst of sales activity.
What is Small Business Saturday?
Originally developed by American Express, Small Business Saturday is now a nationwide celebration of the cornerstone of the U.S. economy — the small business. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses employ about half of U.S. workers and make up 46% of the Gross Domestic Product.
American Express is still the de facto expert at Small Business Saturday, and publishes a wealth of marketing materials and advice. They offer free signs, email templates, web badges, posters and other marketing materials to get your business’ name out there. You can also follow them on Facebook to get great ideas of what other small businesses are doing.
7 Ways to Market Your Business for Small Business Saturday
Now that you know what Small Business Saturday is, here are 7 ideas for promoting your company for Small Business Saturday.
1. Use Social Media to Promote Your Small Business
Online is where it’s at. (It’s where you are now, right?) Facebook is part of life, and Instagram offers a growing audience that’s perfect if you have a visual product. Millennials & Gen Z are spending hours on TikTok, a short-form video media. In fact, 79% of Americans have some sort of social media presence.
Consistency in posting is key. Create a schedule for your planned posts, using themes to get started, like ThrowbackThursday, FunFriday, etc.
Here are some additional ideas:
- Start or join conversations in community groups in your area
- Utilize sponsored posts or paid advertisements. Make sure to set geographic and demographic targets to only reach people who are your target market.
- Post more frequently
- Have an online contest (e.g., share for a chance to win X)
- Keep your customers in the loop with store updates
- Promote special or limited-time offerings
For your posts leading up to Small Business Saturday, use the official hashtag, #ShopSmall. Other hashtags to use include #SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall, #DineSmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday. People who are searching for the hashtag will be able to find your business.
2. Build and Use Email Database
Businesses that have an email database have an advantage. Even if you don’t have customers walking into your store, you can keep in touch by emailing customers directly.
If you don’t have an email database, you can start creating one. Work with your web manager to add ActiveCampaign or MailChimp to your web site. Both tools have pop-up features to capture email. Offer a free informational download or a coupon in exchange for getting the customer’s email address.
3. Offer Shopping Services
For customers that prefer not to come out to your store, think of creative ways you can still get the business. What about shopping for your customer? Create a simple order form through Google Docs and add it to your Facebook page or website. Once you’ve completed the order, you can message your customer for them to pick up via curb-side service. Often, it’s the personal touch that makes a difference for small businesses.
4. Connect with Community Newspapers and Social Pages
Make a list of local online and paper publications that promote your neighborhood. Find out what they are doing to promote Small Business Saturday and jump on board. Get in touch in the early part of October, so you can be part of any special editions.
Join Facebook groups and NextDoor pages related to the area that you serve, joining as both your business and as an individual. Monitor the pages and offer helpful tips. Someone looking for an item you buy? Pop in the comments section. Make sure to support others, and don’t just push products all the time.
5. Partner with a Charity
Customers love knowing where their money’s going, especially if it’s for a good cause.
Partner with a charity group that means something to you. Offer a percentage of sales to them, based on selling a specific item. Have the charity group promote the program to their social media followers. Even better if people can order with a simple click on your Facebook store or website.
For example: A new bakery knows that a dog rescue group is based in their neighborhood. They work with the rescue group to promote “Charity Macaron of the Month.” Every sale of the special confection goes to the dog rescue. The bakery gets new word-of-mouth customers and new business, and the charity helps to promote the offer!
6. Create a Small Business Shopping “Passport” Event
Partner with other small business owners in your area to have a shopping event. Customers can pick up a “shopping passport” at each location and collect stamps just for visiting each shop. Then they enter to win a drawing, perhaps a gift basket with something small from each participating business. With each business promoting the event on social media, you’ll draw a larger crowd.
7. Tell Your Story to Customers and Prospects
Consumers buy from businesses that offer them a connection or a unique experience. Tell your story on social media to build interest. Why do you own a hardware store? Why do you offer handmade wood-carvings? Why do you only source local honey? Facts tell… stories sell.