November is a time for giving thanks, starting holiday preparations, and of course, celebrating small businesses! That’s right — the Saturday after Thanksgiving is Small Business Saturday – yes, even this year!
This day provides a great opportunity to promote your local business and engage with your target audience. However, if you want to take advantage of Small Business Saturday, there’s a lot to consider.
But, don’t worry – we’re here to help you create the perfect plan for a successful Small Business Saturday.
What is Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday occurs on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the US, in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Started by American Express in 2010, the goal of Small Business Saturday is to draw attention to small and local businesses that get eclipsed by big stores during this busy shopping time.
What started off as a small initiative has become a popular American tradition focused on celebrating small, local businesses — their hard-working business owners, their contribution to the economy, and their role in the communities of which they are a part.
(Speaking of local businesses, you can still Support Local on our site by buying gift cards, scheduling appointments, and placing orders from your favorite local businesses.)
Small Business Saturday for Service-Based Businesses
People typically think of Small Business Saturday as something that only retail stores can do, but the truth is, any small business can participate. It may leverage the holiday shopping hype, but its main purpose is to celebrate small businesses across the country – which consumers want to support more than ever this year.
While Small Business Saturday is open to all small businesses, the benefits of this holiday will only be felt by the ones who know how to use this day to their advantage. In order to use SBS (that’s an abbreviation for Small Business Saturday) to strengthen connections with your target audience and market your business, you need a plan.
Before You Start Your Small Business Saturday Plan…
Before you plan out how you’re going to reach out SBS shoppers, set yourself up to be reached by them too! Update your listings on local directories and review sites — especially Google My Business. Make sure to optimize your Google Business listing as well to take advantage of all the features.
You’ll also want to add your business to the Small Business Saturday Map on the American Express website.
This is another place shoppers looking to Shop Small® will find your information ahead of the special day.
Creating Your Small Business Saturday Marketing Plan
There are many ways to approach Small Business Saturday with a growth mindset. The only problem is that this makes it easy to get derailed or overwhelmed. Taking on a multitude of activities will lead, at best, to average success in each. Focusing on one activity, on the other hand, will drive results.
Having a core plan in place for Small Business Saturday will help you to stay on track so that you can actually see tangible results. The elements of a good marketing plan include a goal, a budget, and an offer; as well as execution, follow-up, and review.
1. Set a Small Business Saturday Goal
The most important element of your Small Business Saturday plan is the goal. Notice the singular use of “goal.” Once again, it’s better to focus all of your efforts on one goal than to distribute your efforts among many. This is a quick holiday!
To come up with your goal, think about what you want to achieve and what message you want to convey. Make sure that your goal for Small Business Saturday supports your long-term business and marketing goals.
Examples of goals you might set for Small Business Saturday include:
- I want to achieve higher foot traffic.
- I want to generate more leads.
- I want people to become more aware of my business.
- I want people to see the personal side of my business.
If you’re still in the early stages of your business, you can always go simpler. For example:
- I want to run my first Instagram giveaway.
- I want to send a targeted email marketing message to practice for my holiday email marketing campaign.
2. Set a Budget for Small Business Saturday
What’s your marketing budget for Small Business Saturday? Even though SBS is a big deal, you don’t want to blow your budget on promotions. Remember that the holidays are around the corner, so you’ll want to create a marketing budget for those promotions as well. Many promotions can be done for free or at a low cost through signage, email, and social media.
3. Create an Offer for Your Small Business Saturday Plan
In order to promote your business on SBS, you’ll need an appealing and satisfying offer or sales promotion. There are many options for the offer you present.
- The purpose of the offer can be to directly sell something or simply to collect contact information to nurture leads.
- The intention of the offer can be for people to become customers on that day, or further down the road (such as for snow removal that winter or a personal trainer session after January 1).
- The action for receiving the offer might be a direct purchase, or simply signing up for your newsletter.
Here are some examples of offers you can present for Small Business Saturday:
- Free gift for purchases made on that day. (Create urgency by offering it to the first x customers, or “While supplies last.”)
- Automatic entry into a raffle with a purchase made on that day.
- Free consultation if you subscribe to your newsletter on that day.
- 50% off of your service if you refer a friend on the week during SBS.
Think about what will be most appealing to your customers, now or further down the road, and what you can afford to offer.
4. Execute Your Small Business Saturday Plan
A plan without execution makes your goal useless and your success unattainable. Execution requires a deeper dive into the specific action you’ll take to achieve your goal, stay within your budget, and present your offer.
To come up with the execution element of your plan, walk yourself through the process, and ask yourself questions, such as:
Who are you targeting? Existing customers or new customers? What kind of mindset will they be in when they encounter your business?
What materials will you need? Do you need to put together gift packages, create postcards, or come up with graphics?
Pro Tip: American Express has customizable marketing materials you can use to get the word out about shopping small.
Where will this take place? Are people coming to your physical location, to a community venue, to your website? Is everything up to date and working properly?
When does each step for preparation need to be completed (printing out material, reserving venues, etc.)? When can you expect peak traffic? When will you announce winners to contests?
How will you promote these offers? Social media, email, your website, postcards? How long will it take to do everything? How will you measure your results and performance?
When Small Business Saturday comes to a close, you still have one more thing to do: follow up! Make sure your plan includes a way of staying in touch with the contacts you made from your marketing activities. You might send a targeted email marketing message out a week later to your new subscribers with some helpful or relevant information, or simply create a social media post thanking customers for helping you to celebrate the day.
5. Analyze the Results of Your Small Business Saturday Promotion
Your Small Business Saturday marketing plan must include some time set aside to review everything — not just reflecting back on it in your head, but gathering information that can provide objective and actionable insights. This information should come from not just your own assessment, but also employee or customer feedback, and website data and analytics.
In your review, ask questions such as:
- Did you achieve your goal?
- Did you stick to your original plan of execution in achieving your goal?
- Did you stay within budget?
- What could you have done better?
- Did your customers enjoy the experience you created for them? (Aside from how well you felt you carried out your plan — but if you stuck to your plan, good job!)
Reviewing your plan will allow you to get the most out of your Small Business Saturday marketing promotion and improve upon future promotions.
Whatever you decide to do to promote your business on Small Business Saturday, make sure that you put a plan in place. You, your business, and your customers will be glad you did!