7 Ways to Make Small Business Saturday a Success

It’s almost here once again: this year’s Small Business Saturday will be held on November 27th. With the now 11-year-old holiday continually gaining popularity and importance, it’s imperative that entrepreneurs across the nation take advantage of this retail holiday — especially after the challenging year that was 2020. Even if you’re just learning about this special day now, the good news is that it’s not too late for you and your business to get on board.

Whether you’ve been planning for months or are throwing together an idea at the last minute, here are seven things to keep in mind in order to have a successful Small Business Saturday.

7 Tips for a Successful Small Business Saturday

Promote your participation 

Even though it’s now been eleven years since Small Business Saturday debuted, not everyone is aware of it just yet. Similarly it’s not a guarantee that every local retailer will be making a big deal of the day. Therefore it’s always a good idea to let your customers know what your #ShopSmall plans are.

A few years ago, American Express introduced their Shop Small Studio, which they’re opening once again for this year’s event. The Studio site makes it easy for businesses to create customized promotional materials announcing their Small Business Saturday participation. These assets can then be used for flyers, social media ads, or on store websites to help raise awareness for the big day. The Shop Small Studio site also includes articles with more tips for how to get the most out of the event along with discounts and offers for various tools and platforms that may come in handy. Plus, you can find information about adding your business to Amex’s Shop Small Map to help potential customers discover you.

Once you have your materials, if you haven’t already, now is the time to hit up your social media accounts and plug your participation in Small Business Saturday. Additionally you may want to highlight a few special deals (more on those in a moment) so that you can continue to peak customers’ interest without sounding like a broken record. Another helpful tip is to create a graphic with all of your Small Business Saturday info and pin it to the top of your Facebook page or Twitter feed so customers can quickly find everything they need to know.

Create a sale strategy

What makes Black Friday the retail behemoth that it is are all of the doorbuster deals and bonus offers that stores advertise. Although some may view Small Business Saturday as the mom and pop shop equivalent of Black Friday, you shouldn’t feel like you need to offer the same sort of loss-leader deals that the big box stores can. After all, Saturday may be a good opportunity for your business but it’s not worth losing money over! Nevertheless good deals are a huge part of managing a successful Small Business Saturday. Because of this, you’ll want to give some serious thought to the kinds of offers that will bring in customers without giving away the whole store.

One good plan to prevent shrinking away your profit is to put limits on your top deals. For example, maybe the first 50 people through the door in the morning get 40% off of a purchase of up to $100 while the next 100 only get 20% and the rest get 10%. Alternatively you could make the top prize random by having customers pull discount tickets from a bag.

Another clever strategy is to offer a modest discount on Small Business Saturday but reward shoppers with bonus coupons to be used at a later date — the more they spend, the more coupons they get. This could potentially help turn what would be a one-time shopper into a loyal customer, making Small Business Saturday a big win for you.

Create gift bundles

One tip that American Express themselves has touted is the idea of creating themed gift bundles to sell on Small Business Saturday. This could be as simple as putting together “For him,” “For her,” For mom,” etc. packages or you could get more detailed and bundle products by interest. Doing this will make it easy for shoppers who might not have ever been to your store to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Additionally you can encourage the sales of these bundles by offering a great deal on them and perhaps even throwing in some bonus items.

Stock and staff appropriately

Since Small Business Saturday is your big day to reach out to new customers, you’ll want to ensure that they have a pleasant shopping experience. This means having enough staff available to greet people as they come in, answer any questions they may have, and ensure that they get checked out in a timely manner. Equally as important is making sure that you have enough stock so that everyone can get what they want. Not only will running out of certain items potentially cost you a sale but could also leave guests with a bad taste in their mouths, meaning they might not ever return. Considering that the clock is ticking on getting more stock in time, you might want to have a backup plan such as rain checks or other “make goods” in mind just in case.

Leverage your e-commerce platform

Since in-person staffing and ensuring stock can be difficult these days and considering the continued influx of online shopping, if you have an e-commerce outlet, it may make sense to emphasize that part of your business for Small Business Saturday. There are a few reasons why moving the celebration online is a good idea. For one, the flexibility of issuing and promoting various coupon codes throughout the day can be easier to manage than in-store sales. Meanwhile, online platforms also help with communicating stock availability or allowing for “pre-orders” if needed.  Additionally (and most obviously), using online platforms expands your business’s reach to those outside of your area. Of course, downsides such as the necessity to ship orders may be a hindrance, but you may also consider offering free in-store pickup. That way, you can enjoy the benefits of e-commerce, spread out demand on your physical location, and hopefully increase your sales overall.

Give customers a way to keep in touch

Once again, you’re likely to see some new faces in your shop on Small Business Saturday — faces that you’ll want to see again. That’s why it’s a good idea to start an email list and encourage customers to sign up while they’re there. You may also want to create some fliers with your social media account information so guests can keep up to date on your sales and offers in the future. Even if guests have every intention of coming back, the truth is that they might simply forget. Your goal should be to not let that happen!

Reach out to other business owners

Small Business Saturday is meant to be a community event so why not embrace that concept by partnering with other local businesses? Perhaps you could offer special prizes to customers who make purchases at all of the locations you choose to team up with. Obviously this plan works best with businesses that complement yours instead of directly competing but feel free to get creative to make a memorable event for your community.

Final Thoughts on Small Business Saturday

There’s no doubt that Small Business Saturday — taking place on November 27th this year — is a great opportunity for local businesses of all kinds to reach out to their community and earn new customers. However, in order to get the best results, you have to keep a few important things in mind. With some smart planning, clever marketing, and hustle to get the word out, your business could not only enjoy a successful Small Business Saturday but also raise awareness for your store overall. Have a great holiday season and remember to #ShopSmall.

Also published on Medium.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

Other Articles by Jonathan Dyer

Credit Bureaus Once Again Extend Free Weekly Credit Reports

An offer that was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic has once again been extended. This week, the three major credit bureaus in the United States — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — announced that they'd be continuing their free weekly credit report program for consumers. Now, the feature will be valid until the end of 2023. Prior to the pandemic, consumers were entitled to download a copy of their...

Marriott Bonvoy Unveils New Cobranded Cards From Amex, Chase

In a much-expected move, Marriott Bonvoy has announced the launch of two new cards that will join their cobranded line up. These cards are the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy American Express card and the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful Card from Chase. Both the Bevy and Bountiful cards earn 6x Marriott Bonvoy Points on purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties, 4x points on purchases at restaurants worldwide as well as at U.S. supermarkets (up...

Small Business Banking App Lili Introduces Lili Academy

Oftentimes, when people think of the "entrepreneur spirit," they assume it means striking out completely on your own. While setting your own course and working for yourself can be key reasons why individuals elect to start a small business, the truth is that there's no shame in seeking some help. Luckily, there are now a number of free resources entrepreneurs can utilize to help teach them important business topics and...