When November rolls around, Americans whet their appetites for two things: Thanksgiving dinner and great deals. But while practically everyone knows about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there’s a lesser-known shopping holiday that deserves just as much attention: Small Business Saturday.
If you haven’t heard of Small Business Saturday, that’s likely because it’s fairly new compared to the other shopping holidays. While Black Friday has been around since at least the early 1960s, Small Business Saturday was founded in 2010 by American Express as a way to promote the many small businesses that were struggling in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing recession. The idea gained traction quickly, and within just one year, the United States Senate passed a resolution officially recognizing the first Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday.
By all measures, Small Business Saturday has been an overwhelming success. In 2020, American Express reported that the holiday drove an estimated $19.8 billion in spending to American small businesses. This year, as small businesses continue to suffer from the disastrous economic side-effects of COVID-19, it’s as important as ever for consumers to participate in Small Business Saturday — and for small businesses to understand how to leverage it to their advantage.
If you run a small business, here are seven ways that you can make the most of Small Business Saturday, whether online or in-person.
Online Marketing Ideas for Small Business Saturday
To start, let’s take a look at four ways that you can market your business online this Small Business Saturday.
1. Get Your Business on the Shop Small Map and Other Directories
American Express kicked off Small Business Saturday, so it should come as no surprise that the brand continues to be one of the holiday’s major promoters. As such, a significant number of consumers will get their information about Small Business Saturday from American Express.
If you visit American Express’s official Small Business Saturday webpage, one of the first things you’ll see is the Shop Small map: a visual directory of all qualifying small businesses that have registered with American Express in a specific geographic location. Some consumers will use this map to find small businesses they can support on the holiday — and throughout the year.
Source: American Express
If your business accepts American Express, you can get your business added to the map. But if it doesn’t, there are still other directories you can get your business listed on, some of which are absolutely essential, like Google My Business and Yelp. Do some searching to find the most relevant directories, and list away.
2. Partner with Other Small Businesses
When most people think about business, they think competition, not collaboration. But working together with other businesses instead of against them can drive sales and growth too — especially in the current era of social media. Running a social media campaign in partnership with another related business can help improve sales by increasing engagement and expanding your reach to your partner’s audience in addition to your own.
For example, if you run a health foods brand, you could partner with a sportswear business and host a giveaway for a packaged assortment that includes a selection of both of your products. Both brands can post about it on their social profiles and ask their followers to tag a couple of friends to enter the sweepstakes as a way of driving even further engagement.
3. Tell Your Story
Brand storytelling has been acknowledged as a smart marketing strategy for quite a while — people are, by nature, more likely to buy from businesses they can connect with on a more personal level, and stories help foster that connection.
It’s clear that this desire to connect is one of the drivers of the Shop Local movement — small, local businesses tend to be more relatable to the average consumer than the multi-national big-box retailers, and that relatability makes consumers want to support them. When you amplify this intrinsic feature of small business with brand storytelling, you have a recipe for success.
Social media platforms, especially TikTok and Instagram, are great places to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at how your business works and why you do what you do. By posting storytelling and behind-the-scenes content on platforms that are already known for their sense of authenticity, you can form a deeper connection with your following and increase conversions.
4. Use Linktree to Sell Products Directly to Customers In-App on Social Media
Over the past decade since Instagram’s release, the platform has expanded from a simple photo-sharing site to a veritable ecommerce marketplace. Although Instagram is still primarily associated with sharing photos with friends and family, according to Instagram, 130 million accounts tap on shopping posts on the platform.
As a small business, you want to give your following the path of least resistance from interest to checkout. With Linktree, you can take orders and collect payments directly on your Linktree, making it easier than ever for your social audiences to buy your products. Plus, you can also use Linktree to accept tips, which can be useful if you’re a musician or an artist without a directly purchasable product.
In-Person Marketing Ideas for Small Business Saturday
Now that we’ve covered a few ideas for how to market your business online, let’s move back into the physical world with three more tips.
5. Host a Workshop, Giveaway, or Event
What’s a holiday without some festivities? Like any holiday, Small Business Saturday is made even better with some celebration, like hosting a special workshop, a giveaway, or any other kind of fun event that you can think of. By doing so, you give customers an opportunity to not only support your business but celebrate it, and that can go a long way. Examples could include cooking classes, dance workshops, and raffles, depending on what your business is.
6. Create a ‘Grammable Experience
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the last one. Hosting an event is one thing, but making it memorable — and more importantly, shareable — is another. With the pervasiveness of social media in our culture, lots of people will attend an event simply because they think they’ll be able to snag a good photo for the ‘gram there.
In short, make sure your event has some good photo opportunities. That could be anything from a funny mascot that customers can take a photo with, an activity like a dance class, or even an open mic (a particularly good idea for coffee shops and cafes). The main point to keep in mind is that you want to foster a space where customers will want to show their family and friends what they did — and how good they looked doing it. Once their posts hit Instagram, you’ll build some word-of-mouth awareness from their followers.
7. Use Your Local Resources
Small business tends to go hand-in-hand with local business. According to Statista, 66% of American consumers focused on shopping local to support small businesses in 2020. Given the interest in community-based businesses, it’s a good idea to use your town, city, or region’s own local resources to get the word out. That could include anything from putting up signs to placing ads in diner placemats or running promotions on a local radio station.
Plus, as Small Business Saturday approaches, journalists will be on the hunt for stories about businesses in their area, so be sure to reach out to your local news outlets to see if you can get some coverage. Take a look at this write-up to see how this could look for your business.
As the economic effects of the pandemic continue to make themselves felt, Small Business Saturday raises awareness and offers small businesses like yours an opportunity to reach more customers and make sales despite COVID — if you play your cards right, that is. With these tips in hand, you should be off to a good start with your marketing campaigns.
And of course, don’t forget to support the small businesses that you love, too. After all, what goes around, comes around.