According to American Express, in 2022, Small Business Saturday drove an estimated $17.9 billion based on projections from U.S. consumer-reported spending. Additionally, 72% of shoppers strongly agree that they will continue to purchase because of the impact it has on their local community.
If you own a small business — and it doesn’t have to be a retail business — your participation in the celebration could generate a major chunk of your bottom line for the holiday season. Let’s look at 22 Small Business Saturday ideas you can use to boost your business this year.
What is Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday is a shopping holiday that started from an American Express campaign in 2010 and co-sponsored by the Small Business Administration since 2011. The goal then is the same now: to help small businesses compete with giant chains. The holiday is nestled between two monster shopping days: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
This year, Small Business Saturday is on Saturday, November 25.
The right marketing ideas for Small Business Saturday promotion can help you bring in more potential customers.
Online marketing ideas for Small Business Saturday
Digital marketing can leverage your business whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or operate entirely online.
1. Send email blasts
You can set yourself apart with email marketing, and it’s an excellent choice for small businesses that want to make a big impact.
Email newsletters should start at least a week or two before Small Business Saturday. That way, customers are aware of the upcoming promotions or discount codes that may come with the event.
2. Segment your email list
Remember, you don’t have to send the same email or offers to your entire email list. For instance, if you want to connect with customers you haven’t seen in a while, you might reach out to them with a special offer to reactivate them as clients.
Read more: How small businesses can build email lists: 10 tested tips
3. Be loud on social media
Social media business promotion can be effective for brand awareness. You can incorporate humor, promotions, sneak peeks, “behind the scenes” looks and product information into your status updates to engage customers.
4. Create engaging videos
Video remains a popular marketing medium and is more accessible than ever with low-cost, user-friendly video editing tools and a little creativity. You can educate people on your products or services, demo products, interview customers and experts and give behind-the-scenes peeks at what you do.
5. Try livestreaming
Similar to creating videos, live streams are an eye-catching way to get your potential customer’s attention and engage with them simultaneously. This growing medium is a great way to build closer relationships with your audience and helps foster trust.
Similar to video creations, you can give customers a clearer view into your business and what you can do for them. You can also host webinars where the audience can ask questions and get answers from a live presenter.
6. Make use of hashtags
A hashtag is a keyword or phrase preceded by the hashtag (#) symbol. It’s a way to group content around a topic, allowing brands to organize and connect with others through social media posts.
Small Business Saturday typically uses the hashtags: #SmallBizSaturday, #SmallBizSat, #SmallBusinessSaturday, and #ShopSmall, so add these to your posts to join the conversation.
7. Host a giveaway on social media
If you’ve built up a following or want to gain followers, you could host a giveaway. There are many ways to do this, depending on if you want to gain followers or expand your brand. For example:
- Like to win: Entrants follow your account and like the post to get entered in the giveaway.
- Tag a friend: Entrants need to comment on the post and tag one or more users to enter the contest. This helps introduce your brand to new people.
- Repost and tag: Entrants retweet or repost your original post and tag your account to be eligible for the free gift.
- Post your own picture and tag: Mostly used on Instagram, you ask entrants to post their own photo and tag your business to enter. It could be customers using your product or service, visiting your location etc.
Instead of having people tag your account, you can use a customized hashtag to link all entries together.
8. Partner with local media or an influencer
Depending on what kind of business you have, you might consider partnering with local media or an influencer. These partnerships may feature you in a roundup of local small businesses, which can bring exposure to your business.
9. Use Instagram or Facebook ads
If you own a small business, you probably already have a presence on social media platforms. Facebook and Instagram ads can be powerful marketing tools to attract new customers.
You have control over how much you spend, so your costs could be as little or as much as your budget allows.
Read more: Here’s how to advertise your small business effectively
10. Update local listings
Many businesses are found through search engines, map apps and review sites. Make sure your business is listed in these spaces so you can get found. If you haven’t listed your business, now’s the time to do it.
Make sure your business appears on sites such as Google, Yelp and Facebook. Update any information and ensure your business’s contact information is up to date and displayed.
You’ll also want to make an effort to optimize your listings or include more information that enhances your business profiles. For example, you might add images of your storefront or interior, a menu or listing of your services, update any holiday operating hours etc. These details help build your business’s credibility and give customers necessary information.
Note: If you accept American Express at your business, you can also get listed on their Shop Small map.
Non-digital Small Business Saturday ideas
You could benefit from these in-person marketing strategies if you primarily do business in a physical location.
11. Leverage your community
Connect with your community by participating in local events. You might sponsor a little-league team or a 5k charity walk event. You could also donate goods, services or volunteer at charitable events.
Community events allow you to promote your business naturally in conversation or through signage. You can promote your support while helping patrons feel good about supporting your business.
12. Make it a party
Shoppers love to feel engaged and inspired. What better way to do that than with a party? You can pre-plan an event, like an in-store product sample demonstration or an interactive, hands-on activity, including gift wrapping.
You can also keep it simple by playing music outside your store, creating eye-catching signage or putting up balloons to attract foot traffic. The point is to make your store a fun atmosphere so customers naturally want to stop by.
13. Feed your customers
Have you ever spent all day helping a friend or family member move because they offered to buy you lunch? Or driven five miles out of your way to use a coupon for free coffee at a specific coffee shop?
People love free food. You can check with local restaurants about safe food protocols to get some ideas or even cross-promote your businesses.
14. Host or participate in a pop-up event
Pop-up events are temporary events that don’t require a long-term commitment. Businesses might have a presence or “pop-up” at outdoor stands or kiosks, art galleries, restaurants, marketplaces, tradeshow booths and more.
Popping up could be as simple as setting up a table (think lemonade stand!) to more elaborate plans such as temporarily renting an empty storefront. The key is setting up where there’s a lot of foot traffic to talk to people since you don’t have the benefit of location recognition.
Bring your marketing materials, something to catch the attention of foot traffic and some inventory if you’re selling products.
15. Have an open house
Open houses invite new customers to see your business and get to know you and your products or services without committing to buying anything. It’s also a good way to get to know your neighbors. To get people to sign up for your email list, you can offer discounts, snacks and drinks or raffle off a prize.
16. Rent a billboard
Even though digital advertising dominates these days, don’t discredit the influence that a billboard can have.
If you don’t have the budget for a full-blown billboard, that’s okay — you can get a similar smaller-scale effect by posting flyers around the neighborhood in community spaces, parks, local shops, libraries and supermarkets.
17. Place a newspaper ad
Newspapers are still an excellent way to reach your local community. Spread the word by promoting your business in your local paper.
The weekend entertainment section is good for restaurants, bars, and cafes. Meanwhile, service providers usually have better luck focusing on classified ads.