Marketing Tips for Small Business Saturday

According to the results from the 2015 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and American Express, over 95 million customers shopped at small businesses at last year’s Small Business Saturday, which is eight percent more than 2014. Spending increased 14% by Americans aware of Small Business Saturday from $14.3 billion in 2014 to $16.2 billion last year.

“Local pride is part of the zeitgeist now,” said Mike Draper, founder of Raygun, who started churning out products printed with inside jokes about his hometown of Des Moines 10 years ago. Draper has tapped into what he calls a “resurgence of regionalism” similar to the “buy local food and drink local beer” trend.

Whether you’re a seasoned player in the Small Business Saturday scene, or if this is the first you’ve heard of the movement, we’ve got some great ideas on how to capitalize on the campaign this year. Small businesses owners from communities across America have weighed in with strategies to make 2016’s Small Business Saturday a success both for your business and your neighborhood.

Capitalize on Free Marketing

Small businesses typically have much smaller marketing budgets than larger brands, which limits their products’ audience. Small Business Saturday then, gives these businesses an opportunity to take advantage of a national marketing campaign without sacrificing their budget. Get people in your business’s door with free marketing materials for “Shop Small” promotion through printed flyers, signs, emails and social media.

If your product requires a boost of funds to implement your marketing strategies, you should check out small business loan options.

Network with Your Neighbors

Capitalize on the day by collaborating with neighboring businesses and hosting several activities to promote and educate clients about your business. Vice President of Operations at Sunnyland Furniture Brad Schweig has participated in Small Business Saturday for the past several years. Schweig sees the value in connecting with and promoting fellow small companies. “We founded a group called ShopLocalDFW, which has promoted the event in previous years to the local media,” shared Schweig in a brief interview. ShopLocalDFW describes itself as a coalition of independent local retailers in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area whose goal is to join forces in promoting the shopping local concept in order to benefit all local retailers.

Stock Up

Review your business goals and then narrow them down for Small Business Saturday. What are your projected sales based on previous years and past performance of the campaign in the community or neighboring communities? Make sure you have adequate stock. The last thing you want is to run out of your most popular products when the holidays have just begun.

Prep Your Sales Staff

Prioritize on your business’s strengths. One huge advantage that small businesses have over larger corporations is the ability to connect with their customers on an individual level. Great customer service is essential in creating customer loyalty, which smaller companies depend on to gain footing over the big store chains. Inspire staff with the role they play in the shopping small experience. Review your projected sales and consider hiring seasonal staff to stay on through the rest of the holidays, or consider having some staff members “on-call” in case you need more help.

Connect on Social Media

Follow the Shop Small campaign on social media and encourage local consumers to check out your company during the event. Take lots of photos of your products and customers interacting with your business throughout the day and upload them with the hashtags #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat. Place signs by unique products or displays and encourage customers to take pictures and connect with your business on social media.

Create an Experience

Founder and CEO Dr. Cindy Jones of Colorado Aromatics Cultivated Skin Care described Small Business Saturday in her community as “a sort of customer appreciation, holiday event, educational and sales event all together.” In her Longmont, Colorado store, “customers get to try new products, get a discount on purchases, meet our team and enjoy refreshments,” shared Jones. “We love Small Business Saturday.”

Everybody loves free food. Brew several cups of joe and strategically station light refreshments around your product displays. Free gifts for the first few shoppers, free gift wrapping or an incentive discount like 15% off new items are all great ways to build positive associations with your business’s brand in the community. The IndiesFirst campaign by the American Booksellers Association brings authors to independent local bookstores to bring in the crowds on Small Business Saturday.

Establish Long-Term Relationships

Build your mailing list by asking customers to share their contact information. Pass out coupons for holiday sales in the near future to keep shoppers coming back. Follow up from Small Business Saturday with a simple “thank-you” email or note to your customers either individually or collectively through your business’s social media accounts.

Small Business Saturday Online

Is your business based online? Deborah Sweeney, CEO of, shared her experience on Small Business Saturday with a company that doesn’t fit the traditional brick and mortar mold. Although Sweeney’s office is headquartered in Calabasas, California, the company itself is based online. So Sweeney had to find a work-around. “We like to offer special promotions tailored specifically for that day and promote them in newsletters and via social media,” shared Sweeney. To maintain a physical presence in the community event Saturday, Sweeney said “we open up our storefront office location for walk-ins and put up festive decorations and set out snack incentives.”

Pick your favorite tip and start working now to make Small Business Saturday—and every day—a success for your small business. The more consumers shop small in your neighborhood, the stronger your local economy and community.

Not a business owner, but feeling inspired by the difference you see small businesses making in your community? Consider cashing in on home equity and begin to pursue your passion today!

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