We love small business. It’s part of our DNA and drives us to do what we do every day. So it’s no surprise that when Small Business Saturday rolls around, we’re all in to support your business and encourage customers to “shop small” and “dine small.”

If you’re not familiar with Small Business Saturday, it was an initiative first launched by American Express in 2010, prompting customers to shop and dine at local businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Black Friday belongs to the big-box national retailers, and Cyber Monday drives shoppers to online stores, but Small Business Saturday carved out a space for the local restaurants and businesses that are such an integral part of their communities. Since its launch, it’s grown steadily with every year; in 2017, 95 million customers shopped and dined small on Small Business Saturday, to the tune of $16.2 billion.

It’ll also be here before you know it. In 2018, Small Business Saturday falls on Nov. 24.

To help your business take part, here are some useful tools you should take advantage of:

1. Personalize, plan, and promote

Create personalized Small Business Saturday marketing materials with your business name, information, and even an image from the Small Business Saturday site. You’ll need to provide a few details about your business, such as name, address, and website. The site provides downloadable, personalized email images, digital banners, images for social media posts, and logos to use on your blog or website.

With these Small Business Saturday marketing goodies, you have several options for promoting the event, but it’ll require a little planning. Because Small Business Saturday falls during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the holiday season, decide now which products, services, sales, or specials you want to promote, especially during the holidays.

Plan at least one social post per week leading up to the big day. The more frequent the posts, the better, if you can manage it. The images provided on the Small Business Saturday site work well for both social posts and emails, which creates consistency. Plan to send at least two emails about Small Business Saturday; one to save the date, and one the week of to remind people. If you also send a newsletter, include information to encourage your subscribers to visit your business or website and shop.

2. Spread the word offline

It’s never too early to get people fired up about events you have planned. Print Small Business Saturday signs or posters to hang by your point of sale, or inside your business’s window. Consider creating postcards to send or pass out to remind customers about Small Business Saturday. Keep in mind that printing and mailing can take some time, so plan for your postcards to be printed and ready to mail 10 days before you need them to arrive.

3. Have a “Shop Small” soiree

There are several fun event ideas you can plan around Small Business Saturday, including a kick-off breakfast or a collaboration with several other local small businesses. To help your event efforts, sign up for an event kit, which contains welcome mats, shopping bags, and other goodies. To qualify for the event kit, you’ll need provide information about your businesses and the event plan. Request your kit soon as supplies can run out!

4. Get social

Use the hashtag #ShopSmall and/or #SmallBiz Sat on any Tweets you write about Small Business Saturday so they’ll appear on the main Small Business Saturday Twitter feed. Also, check out the helpful Small Business Saturday Facebook page for ideas and info about special shopping day. Get customers in on the action as well by encouraging them to tweet about shopping small, or sharing pictures on Instagram using the #shopsmall hashtag.

5 bonus ideas to maximize your Small Business Saturday efforts!

  • Expand your day: Remember, Small Business Saturday is your day, so make the most of it! If you usually open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m., consider opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 8 p.m. instead. Use email and social media to remind customers of extended hours.
  • Follow Black Friday’s example: Door-busting deals and limited-time offers work to bring customers in the day after Thanksgiving, and you can do the same for Small Business Saturday. Make sure you consider your strategy and analyze your profit margins to ensure your promotion gives your bottom line a boost and not a bust.
  • Partner up: The right partnership can make your small business feel like a bigger business on Small Business Saturday; combine your marketing and promotions with a like-minded store in your community. For example, if you’re a baker, partner with the coffee shop next door. Strategic cross-promotions can benefit you both and help everyone make the most of Small Business Saturday.
  • Give back: Small Business Saturday is the perfect time to give back to the community that has given so much to you. Consider donating a portion of your sales to a local charity of your choice, and display this for your customers to see. You may also consider matching donations from your customers to your chosen charity.
  • Create a memorable experience: Your personal touch is what makes your business special, so highlight it! If you have a bookstore, hold a reading. If you are in the food/beverage industry, host a tasting. Make your Small Business Saturday experience memorable so customers will think of you the next time they’re making a purchasing decision. Lastly, don’t discount the importance of writing “thank you” notes to everyone who made your Small Business Saturday special. Set up an email campaign to your customers on Sunday to say “thank you” and “we appreciate your support/business,” or even drop handwritten “thank you’s” into shopping bags with each purchase. Your customers will remember it, and it gives your business a personal touch that differentiates you from larger competitors.

With these tips, your business should be well on its way to a successful Small Business Saturday.

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Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in November 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

© 2016 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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