Small Business Saturday can help local retailers boost holiday sales and attract new customers with irresistible deals.
Brick and mortar stores across the country are planning special discounts and giveaways for this year’s event on Saturday, Nov. 30.
Since it began nine years ago, U.S. consumers have spent an estimated $103 billion at local stores and restaurants on this special shopping day. Small Business Saturday has proven to boost holiday sales for the little guys and keep communities growing economically.
What is Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday was started by American Express in 2010 as a post-Thanksgiving shopping event to benefit small retailers. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it encourages shoppers to support their local retailers. In 2011, the federal government passed a resolution to support the small business day.
Small Business Saturday ideas
The most successful promotions reward customers for buying or at least visiting a participating store. The type of promotion offered depends on the size of a retailer’s budget and the scope of his or her imagination!
Here are 7 of the most effective Small Business Saturday ideas:
1. Give away free stuff
Handing out customized items with each purchase or just for stopping in does two important things for businesses: It creates a positive image for your company and keeps your name in front of the customer for months or years to come.
Syed Ali of Film Jackets, based in New York, said they offer a free gift with any purchase to create a personal and friendly shopping experience on Small Business Saturday.
“Customers always feel excited to receive free gifts with their purchase,” Ali said. “It makes them understand that your business prioritizes customers. And anything that is free with a purchase helps them save a lot of money.”
Customized giveaways are affordable and diverse. Personalize useful items that relate to your business. For example, an optometrist could give out sunglasses or a fitness center could distribute water bottles.
2. Hold a contest or raffle
Many retailers, such as Moriarty’s Gem Art, have found success by enticing shoppers with a prize for entering a contest at their store on Small Business Saturday.
“Being jewelers, we create a custom pendant of our town square’s courthouse,” said Jeff Moriarty, marketing manager for the Crown Point, Indiana, store. “If anyone comes in and makes a purchase, they are entered to win this piece of jewelry, which represents our town.”
Making the prize something unique to your community is a great way to promote the area and show your pride.
3. Team up with other businesses
More is better when you’re pooling resources to reward shoppers. G4 by Golpa, a dental office with centers across the U.S., last year held a Small Business Saturday campaign with four other dental implant companies. Together they organized a “#Milliondollarsmile” giveaway on Instagram. Each business chose a winner who followed all four businesses on social media, liked their posts and tagged four friends.
The promotion had amazing results.
“By the end of December, we were booked up to May and revenue increased 45 percent,” said Dr. Mike Golpa, director of G4 by Golpa. “I can safely say it worked for us.”
4. Feed your shoppers
Have refreshments on hand for shoppers to eat while browsing your store or socializing. Beverage suggestions include punch, fruit juices and bottled water.
Keep your food choices simple. Stay with finger foods that aren’t messy to display or eat. I recommend cookies, meat and cheese trays, apple slices and mini cupcakes.
Tips: Order your food and drinks from a local restaurant or bakery to show your support of neighboring businesses. Also, use budget-friendly, customized napkins and cups printed with your name and logo for branding.
5. Entertain the kiddos
Keep mom and dad shopping longer by offering activities for the kids! Clear a small area in your store and add a child’s table where little ones can color, put jigsaw puzzles together or play games. Be sure the area is free of sharp objects or anything that could be harmful to children.
If your budget allows, hire someone to do face painting or create balloon characters. Invite Santa to greet the crowd!
6. Display student art
Contact area schools or universities and offer to display their students’ artwork. Hang paintings and photographs throughout your store so shoppers get a glimpse of everything you have to offer.
A bonus for displaying the talents of students is the increased traffic. Mom, dad, grandparents and siblings will all want to check out the special gallery.
7. Support a local cause
Is there a local family that could use your help? Is your community raising funds for a new rec center? Show your charitable side and donate a portion of your sales on Small Business Saturday to a good cause.
You can also place a container near the cash register for anyone who would like to contribute individually. Be sure to post signs or banners that explain the fundraiser and how your store is contributing.
Contact the local newspaper and other media sources after the event to let them know how much you raised. Keep the focus on the recipient’s story and needs. It’s a great way to showcase your charitable giving efforts and encourage others to do the same.
Advertise your promotions
Your efforts will be in vain if you don’t let people know ahead of time that you are participating in Small Business Saturday. Get the message out in as many ways as possible.
Social media is a popular and effective way to let people know what you’re doing and when. Create a contest by asking visitors to like your Facebook page and share it with four friends to be eligible for prizes.
Take out an ad in your local newspaper or advertise on their website. In small communities, it’s helpful to hang flyers around town and ask local organizations and churches to include the information in their bulletins, meeting notes or newsletters. Check with your local chamber of commerce for advertising ideas.
Use retractable banner stands or other pavement signs outside your business to remind residents that you have special promotions on Small Business Saturday. Be clear about your hours and promote your best deals.