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Leverage the Power of Small Business Saturday

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During the last 20 years, I have not seen a single marketing initiative help so many independently owned businesses increase sales as Small Business Saturday (SBS). Considered a cornerstone of the localization movement by many, SBS helps retailers increase store traffic — and sales — during the peak holiday shopping season.

Last year, the U.S. Senate officially designated the day after Black Friday as Small Business Saturday. SBS received unprecedented national media exposure through thousands of newspaper articles, TV interviews and radio spots. American Express also launched a national advertising campaign, further increasing consumer awareness of the day and helping retailers. As a result, an estimated 103 million consumers shopped at their community’s local businesses, and business owners saw an average 23 percent increase in same-day store sales from the prior year, based on American Express transactions at small-business merchants.

Through the national Small Business Saturday initiative, consumers are becoming more educated about the importance of shopping locally. This day is also creating a change in consumer holiday-buying behavior. Shoppers are now consciously committing a percentage of their holiday spending to independent businesses.

Best Practices
Here are six simple and actionable steps you can take to participate in Small Business Saturday (November 24) at your store:
1. Register your store on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and in SBS’s online database, which instantly gives you exposure to more than 2 million consumers who like SBS’s Facebook page. Consumers use the page to search for participating SBS merchants in their community.

2. Create promotional materials: Send a direct mail piece (like a postcard) reminding customers that you are an independently owned business that they can support on SBS. Even if you don’t mail the postcards, place one in every customer’s bag or hand them out at the register. Plan your SBS e-mail marketing campaign six weeks in advance. Also, print Small Business Saturday store signage to use in your windows and around the store. You can download free Small Business Saturday logos and store signage via the SBS Facebook page.

3. Get other merchants involved. It would be great to have a large group of merchants banding together to celebrate the day with special offers and various types of festivities. You can go it alone, but the resources and time that others can pitch in will likely make your campaign more successful. Consider partnering with neighboring retailers, and don’t forget to approach your local Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, like a nonprofit “Shop Local” organization, for help and support.

4. Incorporate cause marketing. Last year, quite a few merchants donated a percentage of profits from the day to a local nonprofit charity like a food pantry or animal shelter. This gives you another great marketing message to communicate to your customers, plus you will be paying it forward by further helping your community.

5. Launch! Remember to promote your campaign with press releases, alerts and press invitations for tours and launch receptions.

6. Measure success: The whole point here is to build your business, right? So how will you know if it works? Create metrics so all participants can measure the campaign’s success. Be sure to have a post-mortem meeting to share success stories and ideas for improvement.