promoting small business saturdayPromotional ideas for businesses and merchants to increase local sales and shopping opportunities during annual Small Business Saturday event

The 2010 launch of Small Business Saturday gives local small businesses new promotional opportunities to encourage patronage within their local markets.

Founded by American Express Open, Small Business Saturday is designated as the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the U.S., sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

While Black Friday is typically a day that “big box” retail stores thrive and Cyber Monday is one of the most successful days for online retailers, Small Business Saturday is intended to drum up business for local merchants owned and operated by businesses within communities. With so many small local merchants struggling to compete against bigger businesses, the Small Business Saturday event hopes to put an annual focus on shopping with local retailers and merchants on Thanksgiving weekend nationwide.


NOTE: In 2013 Small Business Saturday is Saturday, November 30, 2012.

Small Business Saturday Promotion Strategies

Marketed by AMEX Open (the small business arm of American Express), Small Business Saturday is supported with TV advertisements, online ads, social media and more.

small business saturday local marketingPromotional themes used for Small Business Saturday include:

  • Shop Small
  • Buy Local
  • A day when we all shop small
  • A big day for small business
  • Celebrate America’s small businesses

The overall promotional effort is aimed at encouraging customers to support their local communities and businesses on one dedicated day a year. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and help keep local communities growing.

Here are some basic promotional strategies small businesses can use to maximize the day:

Communicate with customers to spread the word. Get the word out early by communicating often with customers and your community through Facebook, Twitter, email newsletters, on your website and in person at your store. Your most loyal customers can become your biggest advocates and help spread the word to new customers in your community.

Promote your business with a cause. Connect your business with the cause of local community support – not just support of your local business. Emphasize the fact that supporting your business and other local businesses is an investment in your community.

Take advantage of co-promotions and free marketing tools offers. Visit Small Business Saturday on Facebook for free access to marketing and promotional tools like in-store signage, e-marketing materials and other special offers/incentives.

You can also take advantage of the Small Business Saturday Checklist for more ideas, resources and promotional tools. Or, download a full marketing resources kit from American Express that includes logos, signage, social media templates and more.

Use Small Business Saturday to launch sales promotions and offers. Increase the incentives with special one-day discounts and promotions that will improve foot traffic into your store location.

Set special hours on Small Business Saturday. Extend your shopping day for customers on the day of the event by opening earlier or staying open later to make it even easier for customers to shop at your business location.

Create a special event or do something different on Small Business Saturday. You can create even more excitement for your local small business by doing something different to draw attention. Serve free coffee in the morning, display balloons outside your store, hire a musician to play music in your store or create a contest for a drawing. Make the Small Business Saturday event feel like a big event at your business.

Engage other businesses to join the event. Build on momentum from each other by having multiple businesses in the same line of stores or area actively participating in Small Business Saturday with promotions to increase visibility and attention for all local businesses.

Build your customer base. The Small Business Saturday promotional event is a great opportunity to build your own customer database for long-term marketing throughout the year. Be sure to capture contacts of new customers for email marketing, social media or direct mail to continue to communicate to local consumers with specials after the event.

Encourage sharing with existing customers. Ask your loyal existing customers to share your Small Business Saturday promotions with their friends or colleagues to help spread the word. Encourage sharing on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, along with good old-fashioned offline word of mouth!

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With over 20 years of integrated marketing experience, Diane is author of the award-winning book PR Tools to Toot Your Own Horn. Diane also serves as the marketing director for SureShade, a growing small business that has become the new standard for shade on boats, and runs Marine Marketing Tools, a site that bridges her passion for boating and small business marketing.
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  • http://www.socialsinergy.com/ Adam Dukes

    All excellent ideas! I love the “special event” idea and I am going to run that by a friend of mine who own a pizzeria.

    • http://www.sbmarketingtools.com Diane Seltzer

      Glad you found the list helpful. There will be even more media attention on Small Business Saturday this year which really helps with local promotions. Good luck to your friend!

    • http://www.sbmarketingtools.com/ Diane Seltzer

      Glad you found the list helpful. There will be even more media attention on Small Business Saturday this year which really helps with local promotions. Good luck to your friend!