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 a few 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. In 2018, Small Business Saturday falls on November 24.

Why should you 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 — an increase of 8 percent over the previous year. In 2016, the numbers were even greater: 112 million customers reported shopping and dining at small businesses on Small Business Saturday, marking a 13 percent increase over 2015. Spending dipped slightly to a “mere” $15.4 billion, but an astonishing 72 percent of consumers indicated they were familiar with the day itself. With ever-increasing awareness and small business participation, Small Business Saturday 2018 promises to exceed all expectations.

How do you get started with Small Business Saturday?

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 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 24. To make doing so even easier, American Express provides free Small Business Saturday logos and graphics. You can also opt to be a Small Business Champion for your community; here’s more information on what that entails.

How should you 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Send a reminder email in the early part of Thanksgiving week. Travel, cooking and family time create a blur of activity this week, so plan to send the reminder before Tuesday at the latest.
  3. Send a second reminder on Black Friday, or even very early on Small Business Saturday itself. This is particularly important if your business isn’t typically open on Saturdays.
  4. 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.

Small Business Saturday email inspiration

Here are some subject lines you can personalize for your own Small Business Saturday campaigns:

  • Think big, shop small!
  • Kids eat free on Small Business Saturday
  • Caring for our community on Small Business Saturday
  • We’re open late on Small Business Saturday
  • Beat the Black Friday hangover by shopping small on Saturday!
  • Save Big on Small Biz Sat
  • Thank you for helping make a difference in our community

Here are some email examples we created for Small Business Saturday inspiration in 2016. Let them motivate you — or encourage you to do even better. (Just don’t forget that this year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 24, not the 26th!)



Let’s not forget social media

While you’re sending your Small Business Saturday emails, remember to post regularly about the day across all your social accounts. Use hashtags such as #ShopSmall, #DineSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSat to make your posts searchable.

With just a little bit of planning, it’s easy to take advantage of the publicity and excitement surrounding Small Business Saturday.

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in October 2016. It has been revised and updated for accuracy and relevance.

© 2017 – 2019, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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