If you’re a small business trying to drive up sales this season—or if you’re a shopper who wants to give a boost the small businesses in your area—or both—Small Business Saturday is a good day to start. While big retailers are already well known for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday discount events, sometimes less publicized is the small business version of holiday discounting that takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Going on for over a decade, Small Business Saturday gives shoppers a chance to explore offerings from smaller outlets and, for business owners, it is not only a good day to drive up holiday sales, but also a great opportunity to introduce yourself and your brand to new customers who may never have shopped with you before.
Small Business Saturday has been around since 2010 and has helped drive up sales for the millions of small businesses in the U.S. According to a 2021 survey, last year’s Small Business Saturday brought in an estimated $23.3 billion in U.S. consumer spending, an all-time high.
Support for small businesses is needed this year as much as ever, as inflated prices and high shipping costs have impacted revenue for small and independent businesses. As more shoppers choose experiences as well as products, small businesses can make the most of their sales holiday by creating an event worth going to. It may be helpful to create a gift guide that you can email to your current subscriber list, and, at the same time, promote a holiday sales event to bring your customers in the door (or to the website):
· Create a festive in-store event with food and/or live music
· Use social media to spread the word
· Give away free sample products or free gifts
· Offer free gift wrapping (in store) and/or free shipping (online)
The Saturday following Thanksgiving, when many people are just beginning their holiday shopping, is an ideal time to introduce your brand to people who may have never heard of you before. Shoppers specifically looking to boost small businesses in your area are already predisposed to give your product or service a try, so outreach to prospective, interested customers is an important part of effective marketing.
· Consider partnering with another small business so that you can each cross-promote
· Support a local cause or charity to connect with shoppers’ values and give back to the community
· Offer bring-a-friend discounts so that your current customers bring in new ones and both people can benefit
· Collect emails and contact information from new customers so that you can continue the marketing all year
Small Business Saturday is most recognized and embraced by shoppers who tend to support their local economy in general. Small businesses create jobs and form a vital part of the community in which they operate, and many consumers appreciate that, as well as the unique connections and outreach that only small businesses can form with neighbors and customers. Celebrating and supporting all that small businesses can offer does not need to be relegated to just one day each year. According to the survey, 66% of shoppers reported last year that Small Business Saturday makes them want to patronize small businesses throughout the entire year.
Smart business owners can leverage some of the advertising and promoting during this Thanksgiving weekend into a broader marketing campaign that drives up sales all year. Making sure your website is optimized for mobile usage is key since more people shop through their phones than ever before. Also making sure your site is optimized for local users will help connect interested people to your store or business. Encouraging positive online reviews and social media engagement broadens the community you can advertise to and promotes brand awareness. Finally, taking advantage of local media is still an effective way to reach customers within the region—consider ads in radio, newspaper and local TV media to highlight your sales events.
If you haven’t made too many preparations for a special holiday sales event during Thanksgiving weekend this year, it is not too late to initiate something meaningful. The holiday season, which is often the busiest and most profitable for many small businesses, is also a good time to analyze business practices to determine which are working best—and which are obsolete. Examining the relative popularity of specific products, assessing your seasonal staffing needs, and evaluating the technology you are currently using will help you make adjustments to your business in the new year and be even better prepared for holiday season next year.