Each year, the holiday season provides small businesses with plenty of lucrative sales events to cash in on. Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday is a unique opportunity for SMBs. With the right promotions and strategies, you can attract new customers, strengthen ties with your local community, and give your revenue a healthy boost.
In this post, we’ll explain why it’s a no-brainer to get involved in Small Business Saturday. We’ll also provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to make your Small Business Saturday campaign a success.
But first up, what’s the point of Small Business Saturday?
What’s the purpose of Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday was originally launched by American Express in 2010 and has been sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) since 2015. The idea is to encourage people to support small businesses by shopping at local and independent stores. In return, customers enjoy special offers and exclusive deals.
Most businesses can’t compete with large corporations on price, especially during the holiday season. So, dedicating a shopping day to small local businesses gives them a chance to share the spotlight during the most important time of year for retailers.
Now a staple fixture in the US holiday season, Small Business Saturday has also made its way to other countries, including the UK, Australia, and Canada.
When is Small Business Saturday 2021?
Small Business Saturday always occurs on the Saturday following Black Friday. Small Business Saturday 2021 falls on Saturday, November 27th.
Why is Small Business Saturday important?
With around 31.7 million SMBs in the country—accounting for more than 99% of all businesses—it’s no secret that small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy.
And yet for many of these businesses, the past couple of years have been extremely difficult. Unsurprisingly, around 67% of American SMBs report that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their business.
The good news is that in response to these tough economic times, there’s been a groundswell of public support for SMBs all across the country. In fact, 83% of consumers say they’re willing to pay a little extra if it means supporting a small, local business.
We see further proof of this when looking at the success of last year’s Small Business Saturday. In 2020, US shoppers spent a record-breaking $19.8 billion during the event, with around 56% of them making their purchases online.
So, if you own a small business this is one event you’ll definitely want to take part in.
How do I participate in Small Business Saturday? (5-step guide)
As with any holiday marketing campaign, gearing up for Small Business Saturday involves a fair amount of planning and creativity. There are plenty of other businesses taking part, so you’ll need to devise an effective strategy to stay ahead of the pack.
Here are five steps to help you develop a winning Small Business Saturday campaign:
1. Lay the groundwork
Before coming up with your promotions, make sure to streamline your business processes. This means identifying anything that harms your customer experience and implementing fixes now so customers aren’t left frustrated when the big day arrives.
Prepare your website for an influx of customers
A significant percentage of Small Business Saturday shoppers make their purchases online, so your website needs to be in good working order. This ensures customers won’t have any issues browsing your site or making a purchase.
Here are few things to check:
- Page load speed: Long load times are one of the main causes of frustration for shoppers. In fact, bounce rates increase by 90% when page loads times reach five seconds. Speed up your site by compressing files, limiting the number of plugins you use, and minifying your code wherever you can. You should also make sure your hosting plan can accommodate surges in traffic. Check out Google’s free Page Speed Insights tool to see how your site performs and get more tips on improving load speed.
- Mobile optimization: Since mobile spending accounts for 54% of all ecommerce sales, it’s critical to optimize your website for smartphone use. Check out our mobile optimization guide for some best practices. And remember, Leadpages lets you build beautiful, mobile-responsive websites and landing pages. To see how well your site currently performs on mobile, use Google’s free mobile-friendly test tool.
- Shore up your website security: Unfortunately, cyberattacks are a constant threat that businesses of all sizes need to prepare for. Bolster your website security by only storing essential customer data, updating your systems regularly, and using a secure shopping cart and TLS to encrypt data.
Don’t have a website for your business? You can easily build one using the Leadpages no-code Drag & Drop Website Builder. Or build a landing page that promotes your Small Business Saturday offers and tells customers how they can get involved.
Top up your inventory
If everything goes to plan, you’ll have customers flocking to your store come November 27th. But before that happens you need to ensure you have sufficient stock to accommodate the increased demand for your products.
Whether you’re expecting a rise in online or in-store purchases, the following actions will help you manage your inventory:
- Estimate the demand for your products and services by looking at historical sales data and customer spending patterns. Sales forecasting tools like InsightSquared can help with this.
- Consider investing in inventory management software like Stitch Labs to closely monitor your stock.
- Display the number of units left in stock on your product pages so customers know exactly what’s left.
Prioritize customer service
As your in-store and online traffic increase, so too will the number of customer queries coming your way. By stepping up your customer service capabilities you’ll improve the shopper experience. After all, Small Business Saturday is all about building relationships with new customers—so first impressions are everything.
With that in mind:
- Create a comprehensive FAQ section on your website or campaign landing page.
- Respond to social media mentions and customer emails as soon as possible. You can use a tool like IFTT to see all your mentions in one place.
- Consider investing in a live chat system to handle customer queries in real-time while they’re on your website.
2. Prepare your offers and promotions
Even though many shoppers won’t need extra incentives to participate in Small Business Saturday, you should offer something special to maximize your traffic.
Like any other seasonal shopping event, customers are on the lookout for exclusive offers that aren’t available other times of the year. So, think about what kind of deals you can offer that both appeal to your customer base and make sense to you from a business perspective.
Here are some ideas:
- Traditional discounts or buy-one-get-one-free offers
- Free consultations
- Extended free trials
- Free gift with each purchase/ free gift with minimum purchase
- Special gift bundles
- Free gift wrapping
- Raffle entry with each purchase
You can find more suggestions for how to craft irresistible deals by checking out our 15 holiday marketing tips for small businesses.
3. Spread the word
Once you’ve decided what deals you’ll offer, the next step is to design a promotion strategy that reaches as many people as possible.
Make the most of free resources
One of the easiest ways to let customers know you’re participating in Small Business Saturday is to sign up for the Shop Small Studio marketing package by American Express. This free bundle gives you a collection of customizable marketing materials, including:
- Shop Small logos
- Digital banners
- Printable signage
- Sample email templates
- Social media posts
- Facebook cover image
Promote the event using chalkboards, flyers, and posters
If you operate a brick-and-mortar business, be sure to let customers know about the event by placing a chalkboard outside your store. You can also place posters in your storefront window and hand out flyers to anyone who shops with you.
Reach out to the local press
Chances are that local news outlets and publications will be eager to highlight any businesses participating in Small Business Saturday. But it’s important to be proactive about this instead of waiting for them to reach out to you.
Get in touch with any local bloggers or journalists and let them know what you have planned for the big day. Ask if they can give you a pre-event interview, or at the very least list you as one of the participating local businesses.
Run local advertising
If you have room in your marketing budget, get the word out about your Small Business Saturday initiatives by running some local advertising campaigns. You can pay for targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram (or LinkedIn if you’re a B2B company), run a Google AdWords campaign, or simply pay for an ad in your local newspaper.
Spread the word on social media
It goes without saying that leading up to Small Business Saturday you should post plenty of content that highlights your offers and events.
But if you’re looking for a tactic that lets you reach a wider audience, consider running a social media contest or giveaway.
The best strategy is to design a contest that requires participants to either engage with your content or share it for a chance to win. Some proven campaign ideas include liking/commenting to win, sharing/retweeting to win, photo caption competitions, and best-comment-wins giveaways.
Here’s a perfect example of a well-executed social media contest by Leadpages user and yoga teacher Gloria Latham.
Don’t forget your email list!
Promoting your offers to your email subscribers is one of the most effective ways to get people to your store, period. After all, these are people who have already expressed an interest in your business and many of them will be repeat customers. Remember, existing customers spend 31% more on average than new ones!
Promote the event across your website
In addition to building a dedicated landing page for your Small Business Saturday offers, you can use Leadpages to create pop-ups and alert bars that appear anywhere on your website. This ensures none of your visitors miss out on your promotions.
4. Connect with the local community
Small Business Saturday presents the perfect opportunity for you to get involved in your local community. Here are some ways can collaborate with other businesses and show your support for organizations in your area.
Celebrate other small businesses
Small Business Saturday is an ideal time to offer support to other businesses in your area. Not only does it help your community, but acts of generosity are often reciprocated and can give your reputation a boost.
Support local charities
There’s no better way to show you’re invested in your community than supporting a local charity. Join forces with a charity you care about and let customers know that a percentage of what they spend at your store on Small Business Saturday will be donated to the worthy cause.
Sign up for Small Business Saturday events in your local area
Many towns and cities have Small Business Saturday events that let local merchants work together to promote their businesses.
Here are a few ways to find events in your area:
- Search for “Small Business Saturday” on Eventbrite or Meetup to see if there’s anything listed in your local area.
- Ask your local business alliance and Chamber of Commerce if they have anything planned.
- Reach out to other small businesses in your area to find out if they’re running any events you can join.
5. Don’t slow down just because Small Business Saturday is over!
After Small Business Saturday has passed, keep your foot on the gas and take steps to nurture any new customer relationships you’ve made. After all, once you’ve acquired a new customer your next job is to keep them.
Keep new customers up-to-date on your latest offers
Make sure to capture the email addresses of your new customers so you can continue to stay in touch. This allows you to inform them directly of any future deals that they might find appealing. To keep your email list especially happy, consider offering them exclusive offers from time to time. This can include early course registrations, free coupons, or discounts.
Thank your customers
Sometimes the best way to show customers you appreciate them is with a good old-fashioned “thank you”. Expressing gratitude lets customers know you value their business, which is an essential part of promoting customer loyalty. Once Small Business Saturday is over, thank your customers and be sure to let them know how much money they helped you raise (if you teamed up with a charity).
Here’s an example of how a heartfelt “thank you” from CBD company ACTIV8 led to some positive word-of-mouth.
Impressed. Not only with how fast it came, but the packaging, the personalized thank you note, and the free gift shows me care from a company. Plus it feels damn GOOD on my skin, which is important to me due to my psoriasis. pic.twitter.com/OUeaKsEzxI
— Fern Alternys (@Alternys_) August 16, 2021
Time to gear up for Small Business Saturday!
Small Business Saturday is an excellent opportunity to reach new customers and reinforce ties with your local community.
But as with all major shopping events, making the most of Small Business Saturday requires advanced planning and a healthy dose of imagination. Use the tactics covered in this post as inspiration to help build your own profitable Small Business Saturday promotion.
And if you’re looking for the right tools and resources to help with your campaign, download our free 2021 Holiday Hustle Kit. You’ll get access to 30+ promotion ideas, a campaign checklist, holiday-themed graphics, and more.
Wondering what to read next?
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→ [2021 Guide] Holiday Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
→ How to Prepare Your Small Business for the Black Friday 2021 Shopping Surge
→ Forget Cyber Monday: Get Ready for Cyber Week!