The second the calendar changes over to November, we know what’s on your mind. The holidays aren’t just coming. They’re here.

But turkey feasts, festive lights, and holiday promotions shouldn’t be the only thing on your mind each November. Small Business Saturday 2018, occurring November 24, is one of the biggest holidays for small business owners. And it’ll be here before you know it.

The History of Small Business Saturday®

American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010 to drive more holiday shoppers to local businesses across the U.S. To fit this goal, they set the recurring annual holiday for the Saturday after Thanksgiving, just one day after Black Friday shoppers (shoppers much more fearless than I am) get ready to flood big box stores to snag great deals.

Since then, the success of the hyperlocal, community-focused holiday has been astronomical. In 2017, 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at independently owned businesses on Small Business Saturday 2018, generating roughly $12 billion in revenue for small businesses.

American Express and local shoppers aren’t the only ones ponying up to advocate for local business. Each year, community leaders, officials, nonprofits and corporations unite to give their support to the cause and promote the local economic growth that comes with it.

Where You Come In

Shop Small® isn’t just about economic growth, it’s about growing your business as well. Though the holiday is meant to help the communities that participate, it’s mostly meant to serve entrepreneurs and business owners who put in the hard work.

Speaking of hard work, participating in something like Small Business Saturday 2018 can easily sound like a daunting task. When you start to think about the marketing materials you need, promotions you should run, and campaigns you should send, participating can easily seem more like a chore than a benefit for your business.

This special event doesn’t have to bury you in work or drown you in debt. Remember, this is your day. You have the chance to make it work for your business.

You just need to know how.

3 Nearly Free Marketing Ideas for Small Business Saturday

Luckily, you don’t have to start from scratch to participate in Small Business Saturday. There’s free help online, and we’ve got more great tips on how you can get in on the action.

1. Get your marketing materials straight.

First things, first. If you didn’t know where to find resources to create custom marketing materials, now you do. American Express offers free marketing help including free social media posts and printed materials like flyers and signage.

All you have to do is visit their website, download the materials, and get going. Their Shop Small Studio will help you incorporate the Shop Small branding with your own for a seamless, professional look.

2. Plan a special event to stand out.

Incorporating #ShopSmall into your marketing materials and promoting your business’s participation is great. But when your competition is also participating, it can take a little something extra to bring in customers.

  • Offer coffee (and donuts if you feel like splurging!) early that morning, to help shoppers wake up and start their days.
  • Promote a time frame during which you’ll offer free consultations or special goodies. Maybe even limit the number of freebies you’ll give out to build anticipation and urgency.
  • Put a table outside your storefront or in a popular open air mall (where allowed), to attract as much attention as possible.

3. Do a storefront or website total takeover.

Hosting an event is great for those who follow you on social media or are already subscribed to your text and email marketing campaigns.

But what about more passive consumers? You need a way to attract passers-by and online lurkers as well.

If you have a local storefront, deck it out with balloons, banners, and sandwich boards out front (those a-frame signs that stand on their own). As opposed to costly direct mail campaigns and expensive custom signage, these large, eye-catching items can attract a lot of visual attention to the store.

No storefront? Take over the look and feel of your online presence with #ShopSmall branding, imagery, and promotions.

  • Use special badges and logos (on American Express’s website), callout blocks, pop-ups, new headlines—anything you can think of—to let website visitors know you want them to shop with you on Small Business Saturday. Add clear buttons like Book Now or Buy Now, so they’re enticed to act.
  • Change the profile picture and cover image on your Facebook Business Page to signal your participation.
  • Add an image to Instagram with the hashtag #ShopSmall. Consider including a discount code or special offer for those who book an appointment or buy online.

Need more?

If you need additional help marketing your small business for the holiday or otherwise, consider small business software like Thryv. It’s another way to get helpful templates and keep your marketing campaigns organized since you can handle your social media, email and text marketing, even online presence, all from one place.