Small Business Saturday 2019: What to Look Out For

Are you stuck without plans for Small Business Saturday? Then read on! We have details about this special shopping day along with economical and easy ways you can participate.

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Why is the Saturday after Thanksgiving called Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday, being held on Saturday November 30th this year, is nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Small Business Saturday celebrates entrepreneurs and encourages holiday shoppers to support businesses that are small and local. The SBA defines a small business as one with fewer than 500 employees so there are sure to be plenty in your area. Restaurants, coffee shops, florists, dry cleaners, beauty salons, and more qualify.

When Small Business Saturday was launched, it generated more than one million Facebook “like” registrations and nearly 30,000 tweets under the Twitter hashtags #smallbusinesssaturday and #smallbizsaturday. Today, the “Shop Small” Twitter account has 54,000+ followers and the Small Business Saturday Facebook page has over 3 million fans. Those numbers are sure to spike as the holiday season draws near.

Small Business Saturday continues to gain traction with heavy consumer and political support. Just a year after launch, the Senate passed a resolution in support of Small Business Saturday. Politicians at the state level are joining in as well. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez announced the first ever Small Business Saturday tax holiday in 2018. The tax-free day includes sporting goods, clothing, artwork, music instruments, furniture, and more, as long as the cost is not over $500. Governor Martinez encouraged shopping small in a press conference, “Get out and support your local small businesses and use this opportunity to save a few bucks when money is tight around the holidays.”

Who Created Small Business Saturday?

The holiday was created and promoted by American Express in 2010 through a nationwide advertising campaign. Over 40 local politicians and small business groups in the United States issued proclamations encouraging consumers to support the campaign.

Small Business Saturday was such a hit in the U.S. that it caught on across the pond. In 2013, the United Kingdom launched their own small business shopping day that's picked up momentum ever since. The UK's Small Business Saturday is being held on December 1st this year.

Why is Small Business Saturday important?

There are a number of economic factors that benefit a community. Those include:

  • For every dollar spent with an independent retailers, more than three times as much money is returned to the community.
  • When you support a small businesses, you’re helping support job creation. The SBA reports that small businesses create two out of every three net new jobs in the private sector.
  • Small businesses tend to hire other small businesses for supplies and support. For example, many small businesses hire independent financial consultants, marketing specialists, vendors, and more.

There are also non-economic benefits to shopping small:

  • A small business owner offers personalized service and is more likely to go the extra mile to make you happy.
  • Small businesses often carry one-of-a-kind products or services that you won't find from a retail giant.
  • Skipping Starbucks and getting your coffee fix on at a small café can give you good feelings.

How is Small Business Saturday celebrated?

Small Business Saturday events take place across America. It’s hard to miss the day if you’re shopping out in the community or online. National and local news outlets promote the day along with Chamber of Commerce organizations, politicians, and even high profile celebrities.

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How can my business participate in Small Business Saturday?

There are lots of ways to participate! You’ll elevate your profile in the community, encourage current customers to visit, and attract new shoppers. Here are easy ways to spread the word:

  • Promote on Social Media - The Twitter hashtag #smallbusinesssaturday will be out in full force! In fact, the hashtag is now used to promote small businesses on any Saturday (not just the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday). These days, social media advertisements are relatively low-cost and affordable. You can target a specific area or shopper demographic to narrow your reach. Our blog has lots of resources on how to get the most out of your social media activities. Check out How to Use Facebook for Business Marketing, Instagram for Your Small Business, and Social Media Tips for Small Businesses. If you need help in this area, reach out and hire a local social media specialist who is familiar with the small business landscape in your area.
  • Reach out to high profile citizens - Do you have any local celebrities or high-profile personalities in your town? Reach out and ask them to support the community via a social media shout out. Better yet, invite them to visit your store or shop on your website.
  • Find local support - Contact your Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations to find out their Small Business Saturday plans. There may be resources offered to help you make the most of the day.
  • Use signage - Print up a banner for your store and go grass-roots by posting flyers around town. Add in some balloons, streamers, and music to draw in a crowd. How about renting an inflatable tube man to blow in front of your store? You can also hire a sign spinner promoting your business in a high traffic area.
  • Promote on your website - It’s no secret that many consumers go online to find or check out a business before spending their hard-earned dollars. Make sure you’ve promoted the day prominently on your site. You can also highlight special pricing or promotions.
  • Hold a day-of event - To get the most bang for your buck, consider hosting a special Small Business Saturday event. Ideas include hosting a kick-off breakfast, (who doesn’t love coffee, bagels, and donuts?), offering wine and cheese for afternoon shoppers, hosting a local entertainer, or providing activities and snacks for kids. Need convincing? Review this post from our blog: 7 Ways Hosting an Event Can Benefit Your Small Business.
  • Send out an email blast or newsletter - Clear out bouncing email and add new addresses you’ve recently gathered. Have fresh email signup sheets ready to go for new customers. Send a promotional email, a coupon, or a newsletter. Shoppers like to be informed about special events and everyone loves a bargain.
  • Pitch to local media - There are a lot of local news outlets hungry for content. Write a press release about Small Business Saturday and offer to be a resource. Be sure to include stats about the day and how important it is for the local and national economy.
  • Encourage positive reviews - Word-of-mouth marketing is an effective and inexpensive way to get shoppers in the door year round. On Small Business Saturday, encourage shoppers to visit high profile review sites like Yelp and Google reviews.
  • Team up - If you don’t have relationships with other small business in your community, now is the time to seek them out and double your Small Business Saturday efforts. You and another entrepreneur can share advertising costs or give each other some social media love. Join forces to host a Small Business Saturday event or cross-promote discounts. Learn how these types of cross-promotions can benefit your business: Cross-Promotion and Your Small Business: Ideas for Success.
  • Give back - Foster a good reputation with the community you serve. Check out local charities and explore ways you can help them reach their goals. For example, if there is a charity or other non-profit entity in need of items for the homeless or another at-risk population, you might set up a collection bin or a money donation jar. Create an ongoing mutually beneficial partnership that extends beyond Small Business Saturday.
  • Explore additional financing - If sales are picking up, consider applying for additional funding to help with holiday cash flow, staffing or inventory. Skip the “fast cash” providers. Look for a loan with low rates and long terms that won’t crunch your cash flow. SkateXS is a successful kid-sized skateboard manufacturer in Southern California. During the holidays, the business can get over 10 times their normal orders in a single day. Owner Bryan Tracey came to SmartBiz and got a great rate on a $150,000 10-year SBA loan. His business was able to sail through the holiday season that year in a much stronger financial position.

For more ideas you can use throughout the year, check out our article from the SmartBiz blog: How to Attract More Customers to Your Business. You’ll learn how to identify target consumers, build an email list, and nail down the unique selling proposition that sets you apart from the competition.

What Happens Next?

It’s a great move to launch day-off marketing promotions that can bring back a first-time customer. Offers like “Shop today and get 30 percent off of your next visit” can be a good motivator to return to your store. If one of their friends or family members shops with you, offer a free gift. Make sure it’s branded with your logo to keep your business top of mind. For promotional material ideas, visit the SmartBiz Small Business Blog: Promotional Items for Your Small Business.

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