Small Business Saturday promotions 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.

Since it began years ago, U.S. consumers have spent more than $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.

7 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 seven of the most effective Small Business Saturday ideas:

1. Give away free stuff

Small Business Saturday giveaway products

Handing out customized items with each purchase or giving patrons gifts just for stopping in does two important things for your business: It creates a positive image of your company and keeps your name in front of customers for months or years to come.

Syed Ali of Film Jackets, based in New York, said the company offers 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. It’s a good idea to personalize useful items that relate to your business. For example, an optometrist could give out company branded sunglasses; a fitness center could distribute branded water bottles.

Everyone appreciates food so you’re sure to be successful with customized candy giveaways!

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. Giving away gifts is also a perfect way to say thank-you to your clients.

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.

Sweet treats and other foods are also a big hit. Give out customized snacks to every shopper! I recommend personalized cookies, meat and cheese trays, apple slices and mini cupcakes.

Tips: Use budget-friendly, customized napkins and custom-printed cups printed with your name and logo for branding when serving food.

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 personalized 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.

Small Business Saturday Promo Banner

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.

small business Saturday ideas

Shelley Grieshop is a former newspaper journalist who earned more than a dozen Associated Press awards for her in-depth research and writing skills. In May 2016, she joined Totally Promotional as a creative writer. She currently writes company blogs about branding, marketing, logos, wedding planning and much more. One of her life goals is to teach people when to use hyphens and apostrophes.


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