Small Business Saturday Marketing Tools

I have put together a list of my favorite resources to use in preparation for Small Business Saturday in October 2021. Hopefully, this will help you in understanding the importance of reaching out to your customers in different ways. I hope this is beneficial for you!

Small Business Saturday, a global celebration of small to medium-sized businesses taking place the day after Black Friday, has been occurring in the US since 2010. In celebration of this great cause, we’re going to dive into some marketing tools that can help you celebrate Small Business Saturday in a fun and productive way.

Small businesses are the lifeblood that keeps commerce alive in the U.S. They’re also a crucial part of the local community. As a small business owner, you help keep citizens fed, clothed, entertained, and generally prepared for life. 

Unfortunately, the rise of massive “do-it-all” conglomerates has made competing difficult for small businesses — a struggle exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Luckily, a few marketing initiatives are in place to help level the playing field for small businesses. One of these initiatives is Small Business Saturday. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), 77% of consumers said Small Business Saturday inspires them to “shop small” for the holidays and throughout the rest of the year. 

If you own a small business, your participation in the celebration could generate a major chunk of your bottom line for the holiday season. Let’s look at 12 marketing ideas that you can use to give yourself a boost on Small Business Saturday.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a shopping holiday that got its start from an American Express campaign in 2010. The goal then is the same as it is now: to help small businesses compete with giant chains. The holiday is appropriately nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This year, Small Business Saturday is on Saturday, November 27.

The right marketing ideas for Small Business Saturday promos can help you bring in more customers. 

Even though it doesn’t have the same reputation as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is worth spending time preparing for. In 2019, the SBA found that about 110 million shoppers participated in the event, generating an almost $2 billion increase in sales compared to the year before.

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 marketing

Promotional 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.

Get web-ready

Don’t forget the easy stuff. Make sure your address and contact info is correct on your website and all your social media profiles. You’d be surprised how many small businesses forget to update all their accounts as their business evolves — and busy shoppers might not know you’ve opened a new location or have new hours.

And while you’re at it, review your site as if you were a customer, ensuring that all promotions are prominently displayed and that your payment process is working properly. You should do these checks regularly — and an annual holiday sales event like Small Business Saturday is as good a prompt as any.

Utilize free resources.

American Express is doing the hard work for you, offering free signs, email templates, web badges, posters, and other marketing materials to get your business’ name out there. There’s still time to download many of these materials and get them customized and ready to use in minutes. Next year, see if you’re eligible to order the full suite of materials (you might even be able to get on the initiative’s Shop Small map).3. Extend your hours.

If you usually close at 5 p.m. on Saturdays consider staying open till 8 or 9 p.m. Check out the events going on in your town that night and plan accordingly, so you can make the most of the foot traffic, suggests marketing software company Vertical Response. And if you change your hours for the shopping event make sure to tell shoppers on social media and your website.

Prioritize customer service.

Re-train your staff to make a good impression. Your ability to connect with customers and create more personalized experiences can help you stand out amongst competitors. According to a 2016 study, although people continue to shop online — nothing beats an in-store experience, so make sure yours is one to remember. Run through scenarios that might occur at your store during a busy weekend and give your staff the tools they need and the words to say to solve problems and help customers who might not have visited your store in a while.

Let’s make some deals — and promotions.

Plan incentives

Give people reason to come to your store or your events. Last year, shoppers in Oakland County, Michigan had a chance to win $5,000 thanks to a special promotion that lets shoppers text photos of their receipts. Consider your in-store incentives, such as raffles, collecting contact information for your upcoming events and promotions throughout the year.  6. Don’t compete with the Big Boxes.

You might be tempted to slash prices ‘Black Friday-style’ — but don’t. Doorbusters might work for major retailers like Walmart and Target, but that doesn’t mean your small business should do the same. Marcus Lemonis, the host of CNBC’s The Profit, advises small businesses to stay away from Black Friday-style deep discounts. Instead, remember your market is coming to you for a different reason — to support local businesses.

Get connected.

Join forces

Work together with neighboring shops to give shoppers more reasons to visit. In South Dakota, Downtown Sioux Falls offers several deals, freebies, and experiences throughout the town. Last year, shoppers enjoyed free cups of espresso and a special art market — encouraging shoppers to make a day of the sales event and explore the downtown.

By joining forces with other merchants, you’ll likely get free promotion throughout the city, simply for registering as a participating business. Find out what your local community has planned and be part of it. Those relationships can help you throughout the year.

Invite a local celeb or official

In 2015, then-President Barack Obama dropped into a local bookstore on Small Business
Saturday and even shopped at a local popsicle shop in our nation’s capitol. While not all shops can get the president into their store, consider inviting other local officials who might make your shop into an impromptu photo opportunity. (Elected officials in all 50 states championed the day last year, so you have a ready audience.) And don’t forget other local notables, such as local authors, creatives, and even pageant winners who might be flattered and excited to drop by if you make them feel welcome and special.9. Join online groups associated with the holiday.

Americans love supporting small businesses and some have even started online communities to help promote Small Business Saturday. Go to and do searches with terms such as “small business meetup groups,” and “Small Business Saturday groups” in your area. It’s free so get joining to connect your name and business with motivated, enthusiastic people.10. Celebrate other small businesses.

Small Business Saturday is a community event, so go out of your way to celebrate other small businesses participating in the shopping day. Re-tweeting them and sharing their social content is a great way to show your support. It’s likely, they’ll return the favor too.11. Support local charities.

Customers love knowing where their money’s going — especially if it is for a good cause. Bubbly Paws, a dog grooming and retail spot in Minnesota, had big success on Small Business Saturday in 2015 thanks in part to promotions and partnerships with other local shops, but also because it dedicated a portion of its sales to a local dog charity. The company saw a major uptick in sales and found that customers were motivated to shop and happy to know their money would help dogs in need as well as their community.12. Don’t be left out.

Even if you have a product or service that doesn’t necessarily fall under the “holiday shopping” category, don’t hold back. In Staten Island, even exterminators have used the big shopping day to offer discounts and promotions. By associating with the shopping event, companies can benefit from some of the free marketing happening online and in local media.

Amplify your message.

Utilize social media — and hashtags.

Tell your store’s story on social media. Document your preparation for the big day and get your customers rooting for you. Take photos of your displays to whet appetites and on Saturday share images of your fastest selling products and the ways excited customers are enjoying your store.

Update your advertising.

Go Digital Marketing recommends small businesses update their PPC (pay per click) keywords to make sure their company name hits the top of customers’ searches. Change the keywords to reflect your most up-to-date offers and promotions, as well as your location.15. Reward check-ins.

To get customers to spread the word about your small business to their friends, ask them to check in through social media. Offer discounts or promotions for those who show they’ve checked in on a platform like Foursquare, Yelp, or Facebook. A 2015 Nielsen study found that 83 percent of people surveyed found they trust the recommendations of their friends.16. Promote small business selfies

Ask customers to take photos of themselves enjoying Small Business Saturday and have them post the photos to their social accounts and tag your store. To keep the Small Business Saturday momentum going, select the most creative, most liked, or most fun photos to win a special prize afterward — one the winners can only get by returning to your store later in the holiday season.

Make your website mobile-friendly.

According to a Kissmetrics study, 78 percent of mobile searches seeking information on local businesses result in a purchase. With that said, make sure your website is mobile-friendly so Saturday
shoppers who can’t make it to the actual store can buy your products on their smartphones.

Make it a can’t-miss destination event.

Hold a kickoff event.

Start the day-long shopping phenomenon with a kickoff event. Invite VIP customers and even local notables to your store, offering them snacks, beverages, and a special discount or freebie to show your customers they are special and get them excited for the day.

Offer a scavenger hunt.

Make Small Business Saturday and adventure. Cities from Anchorage, Alaska to Fruita, Colorado offered scavenger hunts last year — getting people to celebrate their towns and do some shopping in the process. A scavenger hunt can incentivize customers to explore their towns — and discover stores like yours. 

Become a holiday tradition.

Combine Small Business Saturday with other festive events going on in your city. This year, Boulder, Colorado will host carolers and offer rides on a Snowflake Express kiddie train as well as visits with Santa during Small Business Saturday. Other cities have offered ice carving demonstrations and craft workshops, too. Working your way into families’ traditions ensures customers return again and again for memories — and likely some shopping along the way.

Online marketing for Small Business Saturday

Digital marketing can leverage your business whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or operate entirely online. 

1. Send email blasts

You can set yourself apart with email marketing, and it’s an excellent choice for small businesses that want to make a big impact. 

Email newsletters should start at least a week or two before Small Business Saturday. That way, customers are aware of the upcoming holiday and promotions that may come along with it. 

2. Be loud on social media

Social media business promotion can be effective for brand awareness. You can incorporate humor, promotions, sneak peeks, “behind the scenes” looks, and product information into your status updates to engage customers. 

3. Use Instagram or Facebook ads

If you own a small business, you probably already have a presence on social media. Facebook and Instagram ads can be powerful marketing tools. You have control over how much you spend, so your costs could be as little or as much as your budget allows.


Small Business Saturday is just around the corner. To help you get prepared for this retail holiday, I’ve collected some of the top marketing tools to help you succeed. So grab your favorite latte and gear up for this year’s Small Business Saturday!

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