small business saturday

Small Business Saturday 2020: What You’ll Need to Know to Succeed

Mike Kelly + Liz Macauley

The annual Small Business Saturday®—as a retail and community event—is anything but small. In fact, Americans spent nearly $20 billion last year.

According to the Small Business Saturday 2019 Consumer Insights Survey, produced by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business, on the customer side, 70% of consumers said they were aware of Small Business Saturday in 2019, and it shows. According to follow-up data, Small Business Saturday outperformed both Black Friday and Cyber Monday for sales in 2019. This year, shopping small is more important than ever for businesses impacted by the pandemic.

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But don’t think that just having a small business will get people shopping at your company on Small Business Saturday 2020. You’ll need to incentivize consumers with a great sale or offer. Then you’ll need to promote both your business and the sale. Before the next Thanksgiving weekend, learn everything you’ll need to know to make your Small Business Saturday a success.

When Is Small Business Saturday 2020 and Why Does It Matter?

Small Business Saturday 2020 happens on November 28. While the date for Small Business Saturday changes every year, it’s always the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This is a huge event for local small businesses during the holiday season. As most people know, national Small Business Saturday lands between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are two of the biggest consumer spending days of the year. However, most of that spending happens at large retail chains.

Enter Small Business Saturday. Launched by American Express in 2010, this celebration of small businesses aims to inspire shoppers to support local businesses. Since its launch, the day has been fully adopted by consumers and the U.S. government alike, helping to spur the Shop Small® movement. In 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution supporting Small Business Saturday and, in recent years, thousands of Neighborhood Champions have promoted the day, across all 50 states.

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This is incredibly important for our economy because local small businesses make up over 99% of the businesses in this country. Plus, having large numbers of consumers “shop small” at stores and restaurants benefits more than the individual merchants: An average of 67 cents of every dollar spent at small businesses stays in the local community. So, if you buy a new handbag from a mom and pop business, the owner and their employees will likely use the money to buy goods or services from other local small businesses.

How to Promote and Participate in Small Business Saturday 2020

Small Business Saturday 2020 can be a huge boon for your business. But that’s only if you capitalize on it with the right type of promotion. You’ll need to start getting the word out to consumers about your business and that you’ll be open on Small Business Saturday. It’s also important to direct your customers to your website. But don’t stop there. You’ll need to distinguish your small business from others in your area by offering special sales and giveaways.

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Shop Small Map and Small Business Saturday Logo

First, it’s important to let consumers know you’re a small business. This may sound obvious, but not every shop on Main Street is a locally owned small business. Some of them are part of larger retailers and franchises. There are many ways that you can advertise your status. One of the simpler ways is by reaching out to American Express.

Using the Small Business Saturday Logo to Attract Customers to Your Business

American Express does a lot to promote Small Business Saturday. If you’re an American Express customer, you can have your business added to their Shop Small Map. This map is searchable by consumers. American Express will also provide you with Small Business Saturday window banners and stickers that you can display at your company. The Small Business Saturday logo can draw the attention of consumers who are window shopping on Small Business Saturday.

This year, you’ll want to make sure you’ve modified your business’ operation to include social distancing. This is important for keeping your staff and customers safe while they shop. Some common techniques include putting arrows in your isles to direct traffic and requiring face masks inside your building.

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How to Create a Small Business Saturday Sale

Sales are a great way to get customers motivated to shop on your website or in your store. Look at what larger franchises do for Black Friday. But before you go and run a sale at your business, you’ll need to understand the science behind it. At the end of the Small Business Saturday sale, your business should come out on top.

Avoid Doing These Things for Your Small Business Saturday Sale

The truth is that a discount sale works by tapping into the psychological aspects of the consumer’s mind. Some businesses use shady techniques for Black Friday. For example, in the weeks prior to Black Friday, the business might raise the price of an item by up to 30%. Then, they create a Black Friday deal with a ticking clock. This is usually called a doorbuster sale. This means that the sale only lasts for the first hour or two of the business day. The company then offers a 20 to 30% discount on the item. This reduces the cost back down to its normal price while giving the illusion that it’s cheaper than normal.

Because the doorbuster deal creates such a sense of urgency with the consumer, they will be more inclined to make an irrational decision and buy items impulsively, thinking that they are getting a good deal. Also, these doorbuster deals encourage massive amounts of traffic to your store or website. This will almost always equate to more sales. Since most items in the business aren’t on sale during Black Friday, the business will see a surge in sales at regular prices.

This all sounds shady. And you probably don’t want to burn local customers (or any customers, for that matter). Instead you’ll want to run a Small Business Saturday sale that makes money for your business and keeps customers happy.

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What You Should Do to Create a Great Small Business Saturday Sale

When Small Business Saturday sale planning rolls around, you’ll want to choose only a few high-value, popular items to discount. Pick items that may trigger other purchases from your store or website. For example, an electronics store sells a range of TV models. The store owner has noticed that when people buy high-end TVs they also will typically buy a TV stand and HDMI cables. The profit from the TV stand and HDMI cables is $300. The profit from the high end TV is $500. The store owner knows that a $150 discount on the TV will entice more people to buy it. By offering the high-end TV at a discount, and keeping the TV stand and HDMI cables at a regular price, the store owner can increase sales, maintain profits, and please customers by giving them a deal.

These types of discount sales can be difficult to compute on your own. That’s why you’ll need a good point-of-sale software package. POS systems can help you understand customer buying habits so you know what items to discount and what items you should keep at a regular price. You can use some POS systems, such as Cybersys POS for different types of industries. Others, such as Toast or TouchBistro, are geared toward food service industries.

You’ll also want to run a ticking clock on your sale. This will encourage consumers to buy from your store or website.

Promote Small Business Saturday 2020 Using Social Media

There are a lot of ways you can use local social media to promote your small business.

Social Media Best Practices for Small Business Saturday 2020

There are three foundational tasks you’ll need to set up for your small business:

  • Make sure that your small business is on Facebook: Include your business location, hours, contact information, description of the goods or services and website on your Facebook page. This way, people can find your business and get all the information they need when they perform a search online.
  • Get a Yelp page and maintain the reviews: Not having any online reviews can be almost as fishy as having a lot of bad reviews.
  • Get your local business listed on Google My Business: This will help your company show up in local searches.

These three steps are important for helping consumers find your business online and can go a long way for passively advertising your company. But it’s good to take a more active approach online. You can begin by posting high-quality photos on your Facebook page of the discounted items you’ll be selling on Small Business Saturday. Include details about the sale you’re having, such as the time and date. Be sure to mention that this is a Small Business Saturday 2020 sale.

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Options for Promoting Your Small Business Saturday 2020 Sale on Facebook and Instagram

There are several options for promoting your business’s posts on Facebook and Instagram for Small Business Saturday sales. You can simply post to your business’s Facebook page. In this case, a small percentage of your business’s Facebook followers will see the post. You can then boost that post by putting a little bit of money behind it and getting it in front of more of your Facebook followers.

A better option might be to pay for an ad. Note that when you advertise your Small Business Saturday sale on Facebook, you have the option to also advertise the same ads on Instagram through the Facebook Ads platform. With a Facebook or Instagram paid ad, you can create an audience that Facebook will target. If you have a yoga studio, you can target people that Facebook knows like yoga. You also can set a geolocation to where the ad will show up. You might want to set the ad to a 10-mile radius around your business. This way you won’t waste money by putting the ad in front of people who are outside driving distance to your company.

Traditional Forms of Advertising for Small Business Saturday

Don’t forget about traditional media for advertising your Small Business Saturday 2020 sale. There’s always the option of paying for traditional TV advertisements to play in your business’s location. But this can be very costly and it may not return the amount of business you’re expecting. Happily, there are ways to snag yourself some airtime on the local news (in a positive light).

If your business works with charities, then you may want to consider tying your Small Business Saturday to your philanthropy. Perhaps a percentage of your proceeds can go toward the cause. Or you could be selling items that support a popular cause. Whatever the angle, local news agencies may want to cover your efforts. These are the types of feel-good pieces that can get aired on local news or written about in the newspaper. You’ll want to scout out a few options. Then contact the editors of the publications with a short introductory write-up as to why they may be interested in covering your story.

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Partner With Other Local Shops on Small Business Saturday

Working with other local small businesses can powerfully enhance your own business operations. If you choose the right business to partner with, you can begin referring traffic to one another, offering incentives to the other’s customers and selling each other’s products.

The first step is to find businesses that have similar customers to yours but don’t sell the same services or products. So, if you have a personal training business, you may want to partner with a nutritionist, or perhaps a small boutique that sells exercise equipment.

If you already have some relationships established with other businesses, those would be the places where you’ll want to start. If not, reach out to businesses that have similar customers to yours and see if they’re interested in setting up a partnership.

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Ways Shops Can Help Promote Each Other on Small Business Saturday

Here are a few ways you and other shops can help promote each other for Small Business Saturday:

  • Referral traffic: Your business will seem more credible and desirable if another local business is directing customers to your store and vice versa. Sometimes, simply putting brochures for a partner business at your front desk or checkout counter can be enough to direct new traffic.
  • Special discounts: You can provide special discounts to customers of the partnering businesses. For example, you run a personal training business and down the street from you is a nutritionist. You can provide the nutritionist with coupons for your services that they can give their customers. You can also offer your customers coupons for their services. This can help both businesses gain new customers.
  • Selling each other’s products: Getting your product sold in multiple locations is usually a great option for increasing sales and profits. You’ll want to make sure that your product is being placed in stores where your customers will most likely shop. For example, you run a bakery that specializes in chocolates, and there’s a jewelry store in your area. You could partner with that jewelry store and display small boxes of chocolates alongside their jewelry. The jewelry store would get a cut of whatever they sell in their store. These two items would go very well together and most likely increase sales and profits for both of your stores.

Small Business Saturday can be one of the most profitable days of the year for your small business. But don’t think that simply being open will drive business results. You’ll need to get the word out about your Small Business Saturday sale and create special offers and partnerships in order to capitalize on the momentum of the annual celebration. And don’t forget to direct customers to your website this year. Online shopping is likely going to increase due to COVID-19. With the right strategy, you could see yourself set up for a very large sales bump just in time for the holidays.

Next Steps: Sign up for the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter and we’ll send you guides, articles, and videos to help you navigate the ins and outs of being a great small business owner.

One Response to "Small Business Saturday 2020: What You’ll Need to Know to Succeed"
    • Vilma Estela Letosky | October 16, 2019 at 10:51 pm

      I need to end 2019 with a bang! in Real Estate and for my agents and my clients.

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