Your 11-Point Checklist to Successfully Prepare and Promote Small Business Saturday

Your Small Business Saturday Checklist

Move over Black Friday, there’s a new holiday making a splash in the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy. Small Business Saturday, which celebrates its sixth year this season, is gaining even more momentum.

More than 95 million consumers shopped Small Business Saturday last year, spending $16.2 billion at local businesses across the nation.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a nationally recognized shopping day that encourages consumers to make purchases at local small businesses.

American Express launched Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to increase awareness and sales during the busiest shopping season of the year. The holiday falls on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

With a little preparation and promotion, any small business can participate in the holiday. To help, we’ve created an 11-point checklist to attract customers to your store and #shopsmall.

Download our free retail customer loyalty success guide to learn how to drive customers back 2x more.


Here’s what to do to get ready for Small Business Saturday:

1. Clear the clutter

Make sure your store is clean and organized. Studies show that clutter is distracting, making it hard for customers to focus. Take extra time to make sure your clothing racks, shelves and end-caps are clutter-free and eye pleasing.

2. Schedule additional staff

To make a good impression on Small Business Saturday, schedule additional staff to handle customers with ease. Big retailers struggle to offer top-notch customer service, so this is an area where small businesses can standout.

Research shows just how important customer service is to consumers. Seventy-six percent of consumers say the level of customer service they receive shows how much a brand values them. Be prepared to dazzle customers with knowledge and friendly staff.

3. Get your website ready

Small Business Saturday’s aim is to bring customers into your store, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your website. Why? Research shows 78 percent of consumers use the internet to do holiday research before making purchases, so consider adding some of your most popular products to your website, if you haven’t done so already. Be sure to add Small Business Saturday badges to your site as well, which we mention and include in point 7 below.

4. Plan a special promotion

Nothing attracts holiday shoppers like a good deal. Consider creating a special promotion for Small Business Saturday. You can offer a discount, a coupon for use at a later date, a free gift or additional reward points.

Research shows 79 percent of holiday shoppers were members of loyalty programs, so consider using this as leverage to attract customers. Try giving customers “double points” on every purchase made on Small Business Saturday.

5. Turn Small Business Saturday into an event

Go beyond offering customers 15% off, and turn Small Business Saturday into a must-attend event. Consider booking a DJ, offer kid’s activities, provide food and drink or host a holiday themed contest in-store, like an ugly sweater contest.

With a little planning, you can invite the community to an event, rather than a holiday sale.

6. Team up with other small businesses

Team up with other small businesses in your area that celebrate Small Business Saturday to create the ultimate shopping experience. You could create a shopping map that highlights all of the businesses that are participating and mention the deals going on at each store.

Or, create a passport in which customers get stamped at each small business they visit on Small Business Saturday. Customers that visit a certain number of stores get a coupon that’s good at any of the participating stores in the month of December.

Or, partner with other small businesses and put a flyer like this on your website:



Here’s what to do to attract customers and to promote Small Business Saturday.

7. Get customized promotion materials

Go to the American Express website to create customizable marketing materials for your business. Get downloadable flyers, website badges, email templates and graphics to use on social media.

Creating these materials is a snap, just enter a few details about your business and the information is automatically added to materials that you can download and use.

8. Announce your participation on social, email, and text

Tell all of your social fans that your business plans to take part in Small Business Saturday. American Express encourages businesses to use the hashtags #ShopSmall or #SmallBusinessSaturday to promote events and promotions.

Consider creating an event on Facebook to help advertise your store and the day’s activities too. (Here are instructions on how to create an event on Facebook.)

If you use email and/or text message marketing tools, be sure to send out announcements ASAP.

9. Give customers a save-the-date

Remind customers to come back to your store by adding a save-the-date to their bag at the checkout. The save-the-date could offer basic information about the holiday, and it could also include a coupon to be used on that day specifically.

American Express has customizable save-the-dates that you can print and give to customers.

10. Use day-of social promotions

On Small Business Saturday, snap a few pictures of your busy store and post them on social media with a message encouraging others to stop by. Give this assignment to an employee, or set a reminder on your smartphone so you won’t forget to do it during the hustle and bustle of the day.

11. Promote your special offer

What promotion are you planning? Tell customers about the special deal in advance and on Small Business Saturday. Communicate via text and email.

You might consider offering different deals to different segments of your customer base. For instance, offer your VIP customers a sweeter deal as a thank you for their continued loyalty.

How will your business promote Small Business Saturday? Share your plans in the comment section below.

Lisa Furgison
About the Author
Lisa Furgison

Lisa is a writer at Fivestars, a freelance journalist, and co-owner of a media company, McEwen's Media.

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