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By Roy Rasmussen Updated on October 29, 2021

Here Are 10 Small Business Saturday Ideas to Maximize Sales

Small Business Saturday ideas can leverage the momentum you gain from Thanksgiving sales. Here are 10 ways to capitalize on this opportunity. 

We’ll cover what Small Business Saturday is and how it can benefit your business. Then we’ll look at 10 methods you can use to make your Small Business Saturday 2021 event a sales success.

What Is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a shopping holiday that falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, placing it between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It promotes holiday shopping at small local businesses, serving as a counterpart to Black Friday, which promotes shopping at large retailers, and Cyber Monday, which promotes online shopping.

Small Business Saturday was started by American Express in 2010 to promote consumer spending during the Great Recession. Its initial success attracted widespread support from both the private and public sector and it became a regular national event. Small Business Saturday 2021 falls on Nov. 27.

How Can Small Business Saturday Help Your Company?

Small Business Saturday helps businesses in multiple ways. Specifically, it:

  • Encourages more spending during the busiest shopping season of the year, maximizing revenue from Thanksgiving shopping
  • Steers sales toward small businesses, helping them compete with larger retailers for a share of holiday shopping
  • Creates an occasion for marketing campaigns that can attract new leads
  • Gives businesses an opportunity to form promotional partnerships
  • Provides an occasion to capture shoppers’ contact information for follow-up marketing throughout the year

These benefits make Small Business Saturday an important event both for year-end sales and for promoting higher sales all year.

How Do You Prepare for Small Business Saturday?

Making the most of Small Business Saturday requires the same type of planning that would go into planning for Thanksgiving shopping or other major sales events. 

This includes:

  • Designing compelling sales offers
  • Launching marketing campaigns to promote your event
  • Planning your inventory to make sure enough stock is available to meet demand
  • Hiring enough staff to handle additional sales and customer support

Investing in these preparatory steps will help ensure that your Small Business Saturday promotion is a success.

A banner sign over a small shop window reads “Small Business Saturday!”

10 Ideas for Small Business Saturday Promotions

An effective marketing and sales strategy forms the foundation for a winning Small Business Saturday event. Below we’ll cover 10 tips for designing a successful Small Business Saturday marketing and sales plan:

  1. Create Small Business Saturday special offers
  2. Hold Small Business Saturday contests
  3. Cross-promote Small Business Saturday with Thanksgiving sales
  4. Tell your customers about your Small Business Saturday sale
  5. Promote your Small Business Saturday sale online
  6. Advertise Small Business Saturday sales in local media
  7. Participate in local Small Business Saturday events
  8. Host your own Small Business Saturday event
  9. Develop Small Business Saturday promotional partnerships
  10. Support local charities for Small Business Saturday

For further assistance implementing these and other Small Business Saturday strategies, American Express provides a resource hub you can use to access free materials, tools and services which can assist your promotions. Sources such as your local chamber of commerce may provide additional resources.

1. Create Small Business Saturday Special Offers

A compelling sales offer gives customers a reason to come into your store on Small Business Saturday. 

Sales ideas include:

  • Discounts on all items
  • Discounts for select upsell purchases
  • Bonus gifts with purchases over a certain amount
  • Buy one, get one free offers
  • Free shipping
  • Free services
  • Discounts for signing up for your mailing list or joining your shopping club
  • Discounts for purchases from promotional partners

Consider developing multiple offer ideas and tracking sales results from one Small Business Saturday to the next or one sales event to the next to see which offer generates the most purchases. You then can use that offer for future sales events.

2. Hold Small Business Saturday Contests

A variation on a sales offer is hosting a promotional contest. Consider what types of prizes might appeal to your target audience. 

These can include:

  • Hot seasonal sales items
  • Practical everyday items
  • Gimmick items that are interesting but not necessarily expensive
  • Free services

You can elect to give away more than one quantity of an item, multiple items or first-place and runner-up prizes.

You also can host contests that involve some type of audience participation, such as a challenge to name a new product or develop a new ad jingle. Once you’ve decided on the nature of your contest, develop rules for qualifying and winning.

3. Cross-Promote Small Business Saturday with Thanksgiving Sales

Once you’ve decided what sales, contests or other special offers you’ll be running for Small Business Saturday, the next step is to develop your marketing strategy. 

A cost-efficient way to promote your Small Business Saturday event is to tie it into promotions you’re already running for Thanksgiving and the holiday season. Include your Small Business Saturday sale in your other seasonal promotions, and mention it to customers who visit your store or website for other major shopping days.

4. Tell Your Customers About Your Small Business Saturday Sale

Promoting your Small Business Saturday sale to your customers is your most cost-effective marketing strategy. You don’t have to spend additional marketing dollars to acquire your current customers. Because they’ve already purchased from you before, they’re more predisposed to buy from you again.

Look for ways to inform your current customer base about your Small Business Saturday event. This can involve in-store promotions, using your email marketing list, text messaging or posting on social media.

5. Promote Your Small Business Saturday Sale Online

Online marketing channels offer several ways to promote your Small Business Saturday event. These include:

  • Small Business Saturday posts on your blog
  • Search marketing advertising and display ads
  • Social media ads
  • Social media posts with Small Business Saturday hashtags
  • Videos

When doing online promotions, include geotargeting to reach prospects in your location. To get the most leverage from your efforts, use your promotions to drive traffic to a landing page where you can obtain prospects’ contact information for follow-up marketing.

A hand holds a shopping bag that reads “Shop Small.”

6. Advertise Small Business Saturday Sales in Local Media

Local media outlet advertising provides additional ways to promote your Small Business Saturday sale to local customers. 

Opportunities include:

In addition to such paid media outlets, you can use other cost-efficient local advertising methods such as posting flyers.

7. Participate in Local Small Business Saturday Events

Many local business communities host events to support Small Business Saturday. Getting involved with these events gives you an opportunity to promote your own business. Check with your local chamber of commerce and with leading businesses in your area to see what’s going on in your community.

8. Host Your Own Small Business Saturday Event

You don’t have to limit yourself to existing Small Business Saturday events. Consider hosting your own event. For example, you can network with other small businesses to organize a jointly sponsored Small Business Saturday promotion.

9. Develop Small Business Saturday Promotional Partnerships

A benefit of participating in or hosting local Small Business Saturday events is that it enables you to form promotional alliances with other businesses. This creates opportunities to do joint promotions for Small Business Saturday. For example, you can offer discount coupons that your promotional partners can distribute to their customers in exchange for similar consideration.

You don’t need to limit your partnerships to local businesses, either. For instance, as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce explains, American Express allows you to join their promotional network by registering to appear on their “Shop Small” map.

10. Support Charities for Small Business Saturday

Charities represent another opportunity to enter into promotional partnerships. Local charities may be willing to enter into partnerships with you to promote your Small Business Saturday event in exchange for some consideration such as a donation of a percentage of business they generate for you.

Customers may feel more motivated to shop with you when they know some of what they spend is going to charity. Consider offering customers multiple charity options so they can choose the charity of their choice.

Make Small Business Saturday a Sales Success

Small Business Saturday gives smaller companies an opportunity to leverage Thanksgiving sales on the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Lay a foundation for a successful Small Business Saturday campaign by creating well-designed special offers. Cross-promote your Small Business Saturday event with your Thanksgiving marketing campaigns. Reach out to your own customer base and tap into the networks of promotional partners such as other local businesses and charities. 

Follow these guidelines to increase your Small Business Saturday sales and make the most of this annual opportunity to increase your year-end sales.

Roy is a respected, published author on topics including business coaching, small business management and business automation as well as an expert business plan writer and strategist.
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