Small Business Saturday, nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, has immense significance for small businesses. Since 2010, this celebration of local independent businesses has served as a counterbalance to the rampant corporate earnings of the weekend after Thanksgiving. For smaller enterprises, it’s the ideal time to rake in holiday earnings and expand your customer base.
Zig Ziglar, an American writer and motivational speaker, once said, “You don’t build a business. You build the people, then the people build the business.” Small Business Saturday provides the opportunity to build your community of regulars, neighbors, and loyal customers who will come back again and again. They’re the consumers who will build your business with a greater return on investment than any other action you take.
Why Focus on One Day?
Why pour resources into one day when there are 364 more opportunities to make a profit? Because Small Business Saturday is more than just a shopping event — it represents a movement encouraging consumers to shift their focus from large retailers to the unique offerings of local entrepreneurs.
“Small Business Saturday is a spotlight,” explains Sara Alshamsi, Founder and CEO of Big Heart Toys. “It’s a chance to showcase the personality consumers are missing out on when they choose the convenience of corporate giants.”
Crafting an impactful marketing plan for Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to strengthen local economies, foster community connections, and create a lasting impression on customers. Ideally, the bump in sales will extend much further than just one day, thanks to the relationships with customers and the community that events like Small Business Saturday help foster.
1. Know Your Audience
Understanding your local customer base is the bedrock of a successful Small Business Saturday strategy. Knowing your audience allows for tailored marketing and a better customer experience in the store.
“You have to know your customer demographics,” says Seth Besse, CEO of Undivided. “Know their specific preferences, their shopping behaviors. When you align your shopping experience to best suit your customers’ needs, they’ll come back again and again.”
Tailor your offerings and promotions to resonate with the tastes of your community. By knowing your audience intimately, you can create personalized marketing messages that genuinely connect, fostering a sense of belonging among your customers and increasing the likelihood that they’ll return.
2. Create Irresistible Offers
Creativity is your greatest asset to stand out on a day when customers are deluged with deals and promotions. Craft tempting offers that showcase the value of your products or services.
“When putting together a promotion, that’s where knowledge of your customer base comes in,” advises Max Ade, CEO of Pickleheads, a company that helps athletes find the best pickleball paddles. “What type of bundle or deal will appeal to them beyond anything else you could offer? You should know this heading into the holiday season.”
Consider bundling products, offering exclusive packages, or providing complimentary services. The key is to make your offers so irresistible that customers feel compelled to choose your business over larger competitors, appreciating the personalized touch you bring to their shopping experience.
3. Leverage Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool for promoting your business. A solid presence across many platforms allows you to spread the word about your Small Business Saturday promotions and potentially garner new customers, especially on algorithm-driven socials like TikTok.
Kirkland Gee, Co-Founder of Perfect Extraction explains, “Anyone can go viral these days. That’s the beauty and curse of social media. For businesses, it means a shrewd social media presence can turn into hundreds or even thousands of new customers overnight.”
Engage your audience with visually appealing posts, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and interactive content. Encourage user-generated content by organizing contests or giveaways. Social media amplifies your message and allows for direct interaction, building a sense of community around your brand. This type of community feel is exactly what customers love about shopping small in the first place.
4. Create Collaborative Partnerships
Forging strategic alliances with other local businesses before Small Business Saturday can expand your reach dramatically. For instance, if you run a boutique, collaborate with a nearby coffee shop for a “Shop and Sip” event where customers receive discounts at both establishments.
Consider joint promotions, co-branded marketing materials, or even shared events. These partnerships attract more foot traffic and create a sense of community, making Small Business Saturday a collective celebration of local businesses in your area.
Even if events like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday encourage foot traffic, catering to customers who prefer to shop online is essential. Your digital presence should be up-to-date and optimized for local searches.
“There’s no getting around online shopping,” advises Jessica Nosike, Director of Marketing at Black Girl Vitamins, a company that specializes in Black women’s vitamins. “It’s many customers’ preferred method of shopping, and without it, you miss a big chunk of sales.”
Mobile optimization is crucial, as customers frequently use their phones to find nearby businesses. Include clear information about your Small Business Saturday deals, location, and opening hours. A seamless online experience enhances credibility and helps potential customers find you effortlessly.
5. The Power of Email Marketing
Despite the power and ubiquity of social media platforms, email marketing remains a powerful tool, especially for engaging existing customers. Compelling email campaigns can highlight and drive traffic to your Small Business Saturday offers.
“For many people, checking their email is the first thing they do every day,” says Degelis Pilla, Co-Founder and CEO of TribeTokes, a company known for their line of delta 8 vape carts. “It’s about planting the seed that gets them thinking, ‘Hm, maybe I want to stop by this store on Saturday.’ Or even ‘Wow, I forgot that this store — which I really like — even exists!’”
Personalize messages based on customer preferences and purchase history. Include exclusive sneak peeks, early access, or loyalty rewards to incentivize recipients to visit your store on the big day. Email marketing lets you speak directly to your most loyal customers, making them feel appreciated and valued.
6. The Day Of and the Days After Small Business Saturday
The experience you create the day of, as well as your follow-up after the event, can be just as important in building your customer base and ensuring successful events in the future.
“Follow-through, especially in Q4, is so important for a successful sales event,” advises Suze Dowling, Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder of GIR, a company that specializes in silicone cooking utensils. “Without strong efforts on the day of the event or a smart follow-up strategy, you’re missing out on vital relationship building with your customers.”
Think through your strategy for day-of events as well as how you’ll contact your customers afterward to ensure you don’t miss out on higher conversion rates.
7. Create a Memorable In-Store Experience
The ambiance and customer service in your store are as crucial as the products you offer, especially on a day like Small Business Saturday.
“The point of shopping small is the personalized and passionate experience you get in the store,” Amanda Howland, Co-Founder of ElleVet Sciences explains. “A well-thought-out in-store experience means that customers are more likely to come back, even if they didn’t initially make a purchase.”
A memorable in-store experience requires a warm, inviting atmosphere and excellent customer service that reflects the essence of your brand. Your customers should feel valued and should walk away associating your brand with that good experience. A memorable in-store experience not only ensures immediate sales but also fosters customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
8. Express Gratitude and Stay Connected
The follow-up to Small Business Saturday can be just as important as the day itself. Show your appreciation to customers who support your business on Small Business Saturday through loyalty program incentives or gratitude expressed through email campaigns or on your social media platforms.
“Stay connected with your customers even after Small Business Saturday is over,” recommends Nick Bodkins, Founder of Boisson, a company known for selling non-alcoholic wine and cocktails. “Encourage them to stay in touch via your digital presence so they’re up to date on new products and events. That’s how you build a strong customer following.”
Building a lasting relationship with customers fosters loyalty and can turn one-time buyers into repeat customers, ensuring the impact of Small Business Saturday extends well beyond the day itself.
Planning Is Everything
Brian Tracy, author and motivational speaker, said, “Every minute you spend in planning saves you ten minutes in execution.” Good planning can save you headaches and hassles down the road, especially when your profit margin is slim to begin with.
For a day like Small Business Saturday, effective planning looks like a strong marketing campaign backed by customer data and followed up by the strengthening of your community of customers. This is an excellent opportunity to connect with customers and see a boost in sales before the holidays — don’t squander it.