If you haven’t already heard, Small Business Saturday is an unforgettable one-day, annual event where shoppers show their love and support for their local businesses. Happening the Saturday after Thanksgiving, this year’s celebration is taking place on November 28, 2020—mark your calendars!
Happening between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, customers will have a slew of options when it comes to finding the best deal out there. It’s a busy field to sell in, but definitely one that’s worth the rewards. Last year, consumers spent a massive $20 billion during Small Business Saturday, while only spending $14.6 billion during Black Friday and Cyber Monday collectively.1 Sheesh.
The opportunity for small businesses is enormous this year, but plenty of prep work needs to be done to gear up for the day.
To stand out from the crowd and seize the attention of your future and current customers, we have 11 tips and a range of resources below to help you out.
Skip ahead below to read more about the 11 tips to make the most of Small Business Saturday with these online tips:
- Update your website to make sure all the information and products there are accurate
- Help people connect with your unique story
- Get the buzz going with social engagement beforehand
- Highlight your focus on helping the community
- Ramp up your customer support
- Buy online, pick up in-person
- Play to your strengths instead of competing on steep discounts
- Create compelling promotions that work to your advantage
- Personalize the shopping experience
- Join forces with your neighbors
- Spread the word with in-person advertising
But first and foremost, put yourself on the map
For those who’re curious what local businesses around them have to offer on November 28, you can bet that the first thing they’re doing to do is browse the Shop Small Map.
Before the day arrives, make sure you can be found where shoppers are going to look! Whether you run an in-store or online business, add or update your listing on the map to make it easier for everyone to identify you as a business that’s taking part in the holiday.
11 ways to make the most of Small Business Saturday
Online tips to promote your small business
In recent years, support for small businesses has gone beyond brick-and-mortar, with one out of three people doing their shopping online during Small Business Saturday.2 If you run an online business, check out these next five tips.
1. Update your website to make sure all the information and products there are accurate
Visitors who land on your site are going to be curious to see whether or not you’re actively participating in the holiday. Pull all relevant information (such as exclusive one-day promotions and deals) to your landing page so shoppers can find exactly what they’re looking for. The decision to continue browsing or abandon your site happens within seconds, so you want to make sure you’re leaving an immediately positive impression.
A few additional ways to prepare your website:
- Have a page specifically for Small Business Saturday (you could also write a blog post) and include keywords like “local business,” “small business,” and “Small Business Saturday” so that you come up in Google’s research results when shoppers do a search for participating local businesses.
- Make sure you have information on your website that speak to your location such as your business address, the city you’re in, or your phone number. This helps Google identify where you are, which will help you show up when local shoppers browse for what’s around them.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly so that shoppers can browse and make purchases directly on their phone (after all, 78% of mobile searches looking for information on local businesses result in a purchase!).3
- Free SEO resources to move your ranking above other small businesses
- Boost collaboration between your product and marketing team with top-of-the-line communication tools
2. Help people connect with your unique story
Stories can be powerful. If you’re a small business owner with a compelling tale of:
- Why you came to be
- Impacts you’ve made
- Changes you want to inspire
- Stories of the people you interact with
Then share it with your online community and so that others who connect with it can support you and spread your message. Small Business Saturday is more than just a commercial day for bargain hunting—it’s about inspiring prosperity in a community so that businesses like yours have the means to keep doing what you’re doing.
Use your social media platforms to help spread the word, like this:
And while you’re at it, remember to contribute your story to the wider conversation by using the hashtags #ShopSmall, #SmallBizSaturday, and #SmallBusinessSaturday. This is a great time to offer shoppers a glimpse into your mission as a business and be found doing so.
Don’t forget to leave a call to action at the end of your post and share a link to your site to boost your conversion rate.
3. Get the buzz going with social engagement beforehand
If you’re prepping for new product launches to come or you’re getting ready to unveil some discounts that you know people will be eyeing, give people a sneak peek to get the hype going.
Social media is a great way to sequence these posts at regular intervals a couple weeks before the big day:
Another way to build anticipation upfront is to run a competition over social media. (Learn more about social media best practices.) You can get people to share, like, or comment on your post to participate and have the reward be a giveaway of some of your most popular products.
To generate even greater awareness, consider partnering with related brands or influencers in your space to reach entirely new audiences as well. Here’s a cluster of stores that banded together to reach a larger combined audience on Facebook:
Another benefit of having increased social engagement is that you can learn from your insights and analytics who’s checking out your brand so that you can more effectively target those you’re looking to reach more of in the future.
- Tips for how to use Facebook for business
- Design social media templates like a pro with Canva (with a 30-day free trial)
- Ready-to-use social media assets to support Black-owned businesses
- Create custom social media posts or Instagram stories with the ShopSmall logo
- Ready-to-use social media assets for #ShopSmall like these:
4. Highlight how you’re helping to support your local community
This holiday is all about supporting local communities, so why not lean into this? If you’ve sponsored activities or events around the community in the past (beverage provider for this year’s winning Little League team, perhaps?) now’s the time to showcase it!
In addition to short-form social media posts, you can also consider creating long-form content that can deliver more detailed stories. Examples of these long-forms include blog posts, interview articles, or podcast episodes that allow you to engage the story from another person’s perspective (or another business you’re partnering with) while also letting you promote your own business.
You can also let customers know you’re involved with giving back to your community (and encourage them to do the same) by sharing that a portion of your sales from Small Business Saturday goes toward a local charitable organization.
5. Ramp up your customer support
As with any day, but especially on this day, customer service should be one of your top priorities. You should anticipate that with higher customer demands will come more customer requests, questions, and concerns.
If you need help managing the flurry of incoming inquiries, particularly those online, think about investing in a communications tool or social CRM that can consolidate all your customer conversations in one place:
For instance, with RingCentral’s Engage Digital platform, you can view all interactions happening across your Facebook page, Twitter account, and even Whatsapp in one handy dashboard to save your support reps from having to switch back and forth between tabs to cut down on response times:
Part of great customer service is also dependent on knowing which customer interactions to prioritize and give more attention to. For example, customers sometimes ask questions that can easily be answered on a FAQ page or that have come up for other customers before particularly.
For these situations, consider using chatbots (also available with RingCentral!) to respond instantly or create a knowledge base where your customers can find answers themselves. Save your phone conversations (and your valuable time) for the more complex questions.
🕹️ Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral helps small businesses handle all their customer conversations by booking a product tour:
💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communication with each other—and clients.
How customer-obsessed is your business? Take the quiz to find out.
In-person tips to promote your small business
6. Buy online, pick up in-person
If you have a smaller shop or want to be mindful of space, why not have a convenient and quick pick-up option for your customers?
One way to do this is to offer an option for online sales where customers can buy online but pick up by the curbside. If you don’t already have a website, it’s easy to get one set up using Squarespace or Shopify, which comes with built-in features to help you sell without you needing to learn how to code or design.
Because you can try both on a monthly plan, you can set up your site for just the weeks before and after, and revert back to in-person sales in the future if you decide that maintaining a secondary channel is too much to keep up with.
- Register for your online domain
- Choose a pre-designed template for your online store
- Enable local pickup options for your online store
7. Play to your strengths instead of competing on steep discounts
It’s not only hard for small businesses to compete head-on with big box stores for the lowest prices, but it’s counterintuitive. Customers tend to shop in smaller stores for their quality and attentiveness, but especially on a hectic commercial day, they’ll go there because that’s not where the huge crowds will be.
One of the greatest advantages you have as a small business is the convenience that you can offer. Consider adopting some of these ideas:
- Pre-package popular products, or products purchased online for in-store pickup ahead of time to make the handoff as effortless as possible.
- Have dedicated support always on standby for fielding questions or concerns on the spot to help guide customers through their purchasing decision.
- Offer tap-to-pay digital mobile payments for faster checkout.
8. Create compelling promotions that work to your advantage
This is less about competing for the lowest prices, and more about attracting new customers or motivating repeat customers with a mutually beneficial deal.
For instance, you can ask prospects to check in to your store on social media in return for 15% off their purchase that day. Or, for anyone who makes a purchase on Small Business Saturday, you can enter them into a raffle for a giveaway with the prize being a bundle of your most popular items or a gift card to your store. You can even create bundling discounts—as in, the more you spend, the more you save.
These techniques don’t rely on huge price cuts and promote word of mouth to get your name out there.
9. Personalize the shopping experience
One of the biggest advantages of running a small business is the ability to create personalized interactions, which large businesses don’t always have the luxury of providing. There are two types of positive experiences you can deliver—in-the-moment and recurring ones.
In-the-moment experience ideas:
- Gift wrapping services with purchase (just in time for the holidays)
- Personalized thank-you cards with every purchase
- Consistent support from knowledgeable and attentive staff who can anticipate customers’ needs
Recurring experience ideas:
- Get a contactless, digital point of service (POS) system (see the resources below) to speed up the check out process and to protect customers and staff with safe distancing.
- Integrate your digital POS with your CRM to create profiles for each of your customers to track their favorite products, purchase history, and shopping frequency.
- Manage inventory digitally so that questions around what’s in stock or when something will come back in stock can be addressed instantly.
- Set up loyalty programs with rewards, offering one-time deals to VIP or Small Business Saturday shoppers.
- Upgrade to a digital POS system
- Integrate your digital POS system with tools for inventory, customer, or staff management
10. Join forces with your neighbors
Working with neighboring shops to form brand partnerships or sponsorships can lead to increased exposure on both sides.
For instance, if you run a print shop, you can offer a discount to small businesses looking to print promotional material in exchange for them sharing your social content or retweeting you. For those without a heavy social media presence, you can also offer discounted services at related partner stores. For instance, setting up a booth at a gym to offer promotional deals on weight-loss snacks.
- Steps on how to partner with local businesses
- 5 tips on partnering with another business for the first time
11. Spread the word with in-person advertising
Another way to increase store traffic is to create advertising around your local community in high-visibility zones at least a week in advance.
On these ads, you’ll want to include the name and location of your business, any promotional deals you have going on (“free gift with every purchase”), and an indication that you’re participating in Small Business Saturday. The purpose of the ads is two-fold. One, new shoppers in your neighborhood can gain initial awareness of your brand so you can attract new prospects. Two, even though familiar faces in your community will already know who you are, it’s a chance to put yourself in the forefront during a day of immense competition. By seeing your flyers, you’re kept top of mind so that shoppers can direct their route towards, or circle back to, you.
- Design posters and flyers like a pro using Canva (30-day free trial)
- Get inspired by last year’s Small Business Saturday poster
- FedEx coupon for 30% off print orders
Get ready with these Small Business Saturday tips!
The holidays are already one of the busiest times of the year for any business. Top that with an insatiable desire to support local plus a huge economic appetite to do so, and you’re looking at… well.. a whole lot of business—hopefully.
The key to this?
Ultimate preparation (we can’t overstate this enough).
Meaningful partnerships with other businesses, eye catching social posts, and seamless technology to facilitate a smoother customer experience are all things that require upfront planning.
To start the celebration off with a bang, we’re offering 25% off all new RingCentral Office plans (see conditions here) so that your business has what it needs to make November 28 a day of success.
Originally published Nov 16, 2020, updated Jan 30, 2023