7 Small Business Saturday Tips to Help You Drive Traffic and Sales [UPDATED for 2019]

Have you marked your calendar for Small Business Saturday yet? If not, don’t fret — you still have time. Taking place on November 30, Small Biz Saturday is an initiative by American Express that rallies people to “shop small” on the Saturday following Black Friday.

It’s a massive day for small businesses, with merchants reporting revenue increases by up to 166%. And last year, an estimated 108 million people spent $12.9 billion at small businesses. 

Small Business Saturday has become a widely-known shopping event for people. CNBC reports that “70 percent of U.S. consumers are aware of Small Business Saturday, and 58 percent said they shopped or dined at more than one independently owned business this weekend. What’s more, support for small businesses went beyond brick-and-mortar with 35 percent saying they shopped online.”

But it’s not just about sales on the day itself. Small Business Saturday gives you plenty of opportunities not only to increase revenue but to build relationships and learn more about your customers.

Because of this, you’ll want to take steps to get the most out of SBS. Below are 6 tips to help you do this. 

1. Take advantage of free marketing collateral on the Small Biz Saturday website

The Shop Small website has plenty of free resources and marketing materials that can help you promote your business on November 30. From printable signage and postcards to email templates and sample social media posts, you’ll have a lot of goodies at your fingertips. Check them out here and view some samples below.

Custom poster

Amex lets you create custom posters for the occasion. Consider hanging it in a prominent area of your store — such as your window or somewhere close to the entrance — to immediately let customers know that you’re participating in Small Business Saturday.

Custom email template

Do you implement email marketing in your business? Amex is making it easy to spread the word via email. Considering including the following image in your next email blast or newsletter to encourage subscribers to shop small with you.

Featured Resource

Speaking of email, our friends at Marsello put together some excellent email marketing resources, including a calendar schedule with the best days and times to send your holiday email campaigns. They’ve also created a holiday email marketing cheat sheet that contains all the components of a successful email campaign. Swing by Marsello’s site to download these juicy resources for free!

Learn More

Instagram Story template

And here’s something new this year. For 2019, American Express has free Instagram Story templates for businesses participating in Small Business Saturday. 

2. Collaborate with other business

As RetailMinded’s Nicole Leinbach Reyhle so aptly put it, “It takes more than one business owner to make a significant impact on your local economy.” The point of Small Business Saturday is to rally the community to support small business, and one of the best ways to achieve this is for merchants to come together.

Here’s a good example: In Tustin, California, several small businesses have joined together to host an SBS event.

Another way to participate? Turn to your local community and business organizations. Reyhle advises retailers to get in touch with groups such as your chamber of commerce, main street organization, or downtown partnership to find ways to get involved. “These entities can offer free education, exposure and relationship opportunities for their members. Utilize these groups to rally neighboring businesses on SBS,” she writes.

Events are a great way to rally the community, as they can bring together merchants and consumers alike. Consider participating in a small biz-centric event on the 30th. Go to Eventbrite.com and run a search for “Small Business Saturday” to see if functions are happening in your area.

If you don’t see any events you can take part in, why not organize one yourself?

Consider what Pure Detroit in Motor City did. To encourage consumers and fellow businesses to support the initiative, the business ran a Small Business Saturday Passport event wherein “participating businesses handed out passports to shoppers. Each time a shopper made a purchase, their passport was stamped.” Shoppers who had stamped passports were then rewarded with various perks.

For more ideas as well as free resources and event promo materials, visit the Small Business Saturday events page here.

3. Launch a giveaway

Make Small Business Saturday even more interesting in your biz by launching a giveaway.

“A great way for a small business to generate excitement around Small Business Saturday is to host some sort of special giveaway,” says Liz Jeneault, a communications professional and vice president of marketing at Faveable.

“For example, everyone who comes into the store and makes a purchase on Small Business Saturday could be entered to win a special giveaway prize such as a basket worth of products/services from the business or even a gift card. It shows customers the business cares about them and can also help drive foot traffic to the store as it gives people an extra reason to shop.”

She adds, “A suggestion is to promote the giveaway on social media well in advance of Small Business Saturday. The business could promise customers an extra entry for the giveaway prize if they share news of the giveaway with their social media followers. All that buzz around the giveaway should certainly help make Small Business Saturday a winner!”

One business that puts this tip to good use is Moriarty’s Gem Art in Crown Point, Indiana, which gives shoppers a chance to win a custom piece of jewlery on Small Business Saturday. 

“One campaign we do each year during Small Business Saturday is a giveaway. Being jewelers, we create a custom pendant of our town square’s courthouse,” explains Jeff Moriarty.

“If anyone comes in and makes a purchase they are entered to win this piece of jewelry which represents our town. We have found that mostly locals shop with us during this time and offering an exclusive item to lure people in each year has worked very well! Many come back to purchase each in hope of winning this years design!”

4. Put your online marketing cap on

Most of Small Business Saturday will likely take place offline, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage online channels to increase awareness and drive traffic to your store.

See to it that your social accounts are in on the Small Biz Saturday fun. Post Facebook updates, Instagram photos, and tweets about what you have going on during the day, and don’t forget to include relevant hashtags such as #ShopSmall (official), #SmallBizSaturday, and #SmallBusinessSaturday.

Here are some examples:

On Instagram, The Fancy Unicorn Consignment Boutique posted a Small Biz Saturday image inviting people to come to their shop on Small Business Saturday. To entice shoppers, the retailer will give away swag bags to their first 10 customers. Oh, and their entire store is also on sale!

Meanwhile, on Facebook, the SBS page has been featuring images of participating businesses. Check them out to draw inspiration for your own posts.

And remember the free marketing collateral we mentioned earlier? They include customizable Facebook cover photos and other materials that you can show off on your social pages. Be sure to take advantage of them.

If you have an email list, send out an SBS-centric message to your subscribers reminding them to shop small on November 30th (again, Amex has some free email templates for this). And if you’re running special deals for the day, don’t forget to give your email list a heads-up.

Have a look at what NutriFit did below. To celebrate Small Business Saturday in 2016, the company offered a 10% discount on orders placed before the 26th of November.

Do note that you don’t have to run a sale or promotion on Small Business Saturday. Sometimes, an honest and heartfelt message telling people about your story and mission is enough to engage shoppers.

Here’s a great example from Energy Muse. On Small Business Saturday 2016, the retailer added a small note in its newsletter talking about the importance of shopping small. Give it a read below.

5. Get some press coverage

The media LOVES Small Business Saturday, so grab the opportunity to get some publicity for your store. Don’t just wait around for the press to swing by though. Go out there and find PR opportunities.

If you’re doing something cool for Small Biz Saturday (i.e., an event or an exclusive deal), find bloggers or journalists who can cover your story. It’s best to target local members of the press when you’re doing this. You’ll stand a much higher chance of getting coverage by focusing on reporters or bloggers who are covering your specific area.

Head to the official website of your local newspaper and search for bloggers in your area. Tell them about the exciting things you have going on for Small Business Saturday and see if they’re open to writing about your initiatives.

6. Turn first-time shoppers into loyal patrons

You’re bound to see a lot of new customers on the 30th. Don’t miss your chance to add them to your database. This gives you the perfect opportunity to turn first-time shoppers into repeat buyers, so make it a point to collect people’s names and contact details.

The easiest way to do this? Enroll shoppers into your loyalty program (hint: if you don’t have one yet, you should establish a loyalty initiative ASAP). Consider offering a “Small Biz Saturday” sign up bonus to further entice them to join.

7. Look at shopper trends and activities

You should also pay attention to shopper activities and trends on Small Business Saturday.

For instance, you can gauge the effectiveness of sales and marketing campaigns by looking at the popular deals or products on that day. Which promotions ended up being a hit with customers? What were your most popular items? Were any items commonly bought together?

Find the answers to these questions, and use them to make decisions for the holidays (and beyond). For instance, if you found that customers frequently bought items A and B together, you may want to consider bundling them in the future. Were any particular brands flying off the shelves? Maybe you should stock up on them.

Remember, the rest of the year is bound to get even busier, so arm yourself with the data (and tools) you need to perform well in the coming holiday months.

Bonus: Handy list of Small Biz Saturday resources

We sprinkled a bunch of Small Business Saturdays links in this post, so to help you quickly find what you need, we thought we’d compile them into a neat section that you can refer to.

Below are links to the pages we mentioned above, along with other informative articles to help you make the most of November 30th:

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.