Making the Most of Small Business Saturday

After the holiday feast, an afternoon of giving thanks, breaking bread and watching football, after the riotous Black Friday sales — many starting early Thursday morning, after all of that is over, it’s time for Small Business Saturday!

An initiative started by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday takes place each year on the Saturday following Black Friday, and was developed to encourage consumers to do at least some of their holiday shopping at local businesses.  This year it’s expected that some $5.9 billion will be spent on Small Business Saturday, up from $5.7 billion in 2013.  While November 29th is rapidly approaching, there are still some things small business owners can do to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity .

1. Spread the News

If you haven’t done so already, get on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages and announce what specials you’re going to offer for the occasion.  Use the hash tags #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSaturday, #SmallBizSat and #ShopSmall, along with your city at the end (i.e. SmallBizSatDenver) to reach your local market.  Be sure to retweet similar tweets from other businesses in your city and hopefully they will reciprocate.

2. Get in the Spirit of the Season

Just because you’re not a big box store able to offer ridiculous discounts doesn’t mean you can’t offer great perks to customers who patronize your business.  Stock up on small freebies you can give away as stocking stuffers with purchase, offer free gift wrapping for purchases over $50, break out the hot chocolate and Christmas cookies and put up some holiday decorations.  By getting your customers into a festive mood, you’ll encourage them to start thinking about gift giving — and purchasing.

3. Team Up With Your Neighbors

Consider working out a deal with a nearby restaurant to offer a free appetizer or hot beverage to customers who present a receipt from your business for more than $40.  Or it could be a foot massage or chair massage for weary shoppers.  The possibilities are endless; consider the various businesses in your area and get creative.

Retail stores can also team up with adjoining shops for a community sidewalk sale.  The more stores involved, the more attention you will attract from anyone passing through the area, even without a lot of prior advertising.

4. Post Local Event Listings

Check out local event listings for Small Business Saturday offerings, and add your own.  Many customers looking for places to shop local on that day will naturally turn to online and print media local listings, so don’t miss out!

Whether you’ve been planning ahead for weeks or are just now catching on, Small Business Saturday is a first rate opportunity to get a jump on the holiday season, and remind your customers how much fun it can be to shop for gifts in a friendly, rather than frenzied, environment.