With Small Business Saturday® 2017 a little over a month away, local business owners everywhere are clamoring to get in on the action. What will you do to prepare for November 25, 2017?

Background Info

If you’ve slept a few times since last year and need a quick refresher on the holiday, here it is. Small Business Saturday originated when American Express launched the program in 2010. Aimed at bolstering community engagement, stimulating the local economy, and supporting local businesses, American Express teamed up with businesses just like yours to encourage consumers to “Shop Small®.”

They’ve been going strong ever since, with a recurring Small Business Saturday shopping tradition each holiday season. Though American Express would love for you to accept their credit cards for the event and going forward, it’s not a requirement to participate in Small Business Saturday.

Just how big is this event?

On Small Business Saturday in 2016, 112 million shoppers spent a reported $15.4 billion at small businesses.

Did you get in on it? Whether you did or not, it’s time to start planning for Small Business Saturday 2017.

Getting Ready for Small Business Saturday – 5 Easy Steps

Every business will approach the event differently, with differing promotions and more. American Express provides some guided help on their website, but you definitely shouldn’t stop there.

1. If you’re slim on marketing support, take the free help.

Just because you shouldn’t stop at the free help offered doesn’t mean you can’t start there.

If your budget for freelance design work is looking low, go ahead and take American Express up on their offer for free marketing materials. They’ll combine attributes of your business with their #ShopSmall branding into some slick Small Business Saturday imagery for social media and even printed marketing materials like signage and fliers.

2. Dust off your contact list, and spread the word via emails and texts.

Looking for an excuse to get in touch with contacts you haven’t spoken to in a while? Jump on this one!

Small Business Saturday has gained serious recognition in recent years. So your contacts shouldn’t be surprised to hear from you in honor of the holiday. Keep track of who engages with your emails and texts so you can continue nurturing these relationships after the fact.

3. Make your loyal customers part of your social media team.

What if you could reach hundreds of new local consumers with just one post on social media?

All it takes is one post encouraging your customers to share the “Shop Small” message to reach a broader audience than you might otherwise have gotten in front of. Want to make it extra compelling? Offer an incentive for those who share, like 10% off on the day of the event. All they’ll need to do is prove they shared upon checkout, or you can just take their word for it.

4. Team up with other local businesses.

If you know other local business owners in the area, use Small Business Saturday as a chance to expand your network.

Offer to place business cards or flyers for other businesses in your store, if they’ll do the same for you. Not only will this serve as practically free marketing, you’ll open the door for future opportunities to shine within your community.

5. Make sure you use the day itself to your advantage.

It’s not enough to simply attract additional traffic. Sure, you’ll likely see a quick uptick in revenue, but there are ways you can use the holiday to continue to reap the rewards.

On the big day itself, Small Business Saturday 2017:
  • Collect customer information to grow your contact list even further. Put a mailing list sign-up sheet by your point of sale (if you have one), or simply ask for the information over the phone or in person. Nervous to ask for the digits? Here are more tips on how to build your contact list unobtrusively.
  • Consider simplifying your business model on the day of the event to account for the added traffic. Offer a special, limited menu or simplified list of services so you can provide the highest level of customer service possible to all customers.
  • Offer a “Come back and see us!” discount for return customers who visit you for a second time within a month after Small Business Saturday.
  • Follow up with “Thank you” messaging to those who visited you on the holiday, thanking them for their support of local business!