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Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Since 2010, Small Business Saturday has rallied small businesses as an alternative to the big, corporate Black Friday. According to data from American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), an estimated 95 million Americans went out dining and shopping during the 2015 Small Business Saturday. At independent retailers and restaurants on that day, consumers spent $16.2 billion, up 14% from $14.3 billion in 2014.
Of course, you may be wondering how to make the most out of the upcoming shopping holiday. So, that’s why we’ve put together some specific tasks to help you gear up for the days preceding November 26, as well as some action items to keep in mind on the day of Small Business Saturday itself.
1. Remind your customers about Small Business Saturday
Over the years, Small Business Saturday has gathered the support of private and public organizations. In 2015, this shopping holiday received a big bump from the public support of President Barack Obama (on that day, he bought nine books from a local D.C. bookstore and grabbed some ice cream with his family at local shop). Many other politicians, athletes, and celebrities visit small and independently owned small businesses on this day.
Despite the rising popularity of the event, only 55% of Americans are aware of Small Business Saturday! Inform your customers that your store is taking part of an important event this November 26th.
2. Update your website and online presences
If you haven’t updated your site or social media presences in a while, this is a great opportunity to do so and create content for the next couple of weeks.
Use the Shop Small branded images to refresh your site and use the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. According to American Express, more than 241,000 posts appeared on these three social networks throughout November 2015, with about 41% of them taking place on the actual holiday.
By using these hashtags, you have a chance of catching the eye of customers interested in supporting more local small businesses, representatives of your local Small Business Administration office, and reporters looking for small businesses participating on the event. For example, CBS already released a list of places to shop and dine in New York City and Miami during Small Business Saturday. Landing a spot on such a list could be free publicity for your business!
3. Provide a Small Business Saturday incentive
Money talks and it does loudly! Depending on your sale projections, consider providing a discount to visitors coming to your store or visiting your website on that day. Unlike Black Friday, Small Business Saturday encourages support of local small businesses so you don’t necessarily have to provide a big discount.
To figure out what is a discount that you could comfortably swing on Small Business Saturday, review your cost of goods sold, gross profit, and gross profit margin (and don’t forget to do a break-even analysis to be sure). For an example of this calculation in the fashion industry, review our guide on How to Price Clothing.
Remember to include the details from your Small Business Saturday discount or promo on your website and social media accounts. Do you maintain a list of email subscribers? This would be a great time to inform them about the upcoming incentive. Plan to send an email blast about one week in advance and a second one either the day before or on Small Business Saturday.
4. Inform American Express cardholders of promo
Even when you can’t afford to provide a discount, some of your customers can still get a financial benefit from shopping on Small Business Saturday. If your small business accepts American Express cards, then encourage your American Express cardholders to enroll in the Shop Small initiative to receive two times rewards at qualifying small businesses through December 31, 2016. This can potentially be a driver of additional business on that day. For example, an eligible cardholder could receive an additional 1% cash back or an additional mile per dollar using a qualifying and enrolled American Express credit card.
Here’s what you need to do:
5. Form partnerships with other nearby small businesses
One reason that Small Business Saturday draws more and more shoppers every year is that it brings the community together. Get in touch with small and independent business owners around you and brainstorm ideas to make the most out of this opportunity and pool marketing resources.
Here are some ideas that you could discuss with your potential business partners:
Gathering with your fellow small business owners to hash out some ideas for Small Business Saturdays could be the spark to start off a great tradition, encourage future collaboration, and strengthen ties with the community.
Now it’s your turn! There’s still time to gear up for Saturday November 26. Use these five strategies to kick off the holiday season in a big way. Good luck!
Michael Jones is a Senior Editor for Funding Circle, specializing in small business loans. He holds a degree in International Business and Economics from Boston University's Questrom School of Business. Prior to Funding Circle, Michael was the Head of Content for Bond Street, a venture-backed FinTech company specializing in small business loans. He has written extensively about small business loans, entrepreneurship, and marketing.