Small Business Saturday

Make a Splash With Your Startup on Small Business Saturday (and Beyond)

If you just started a business, you might be looking for ways to get your name out in your community. Why not do that on a national shopping day devoted to small businesses—aka Small Business Saturday (SBS)?

Small Business Saturday is part of the post-Thanksgiving weekend that kicks off the holiday shopping season. Businesses nationwide (young and old) use the day to increase brand awareness, ramp up sales and prove they’re a lasting part of their communities.

Want to give it a go? Read on to learn how your local startup can make a lasting impression on your community.

How to make a splash this Small Business Saturday

Back in 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday. It takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In 2021, that means the day falls on Nov. 27.

Sure, Small Business Saturday is only one day a year. But, there’s an entire Shop Small movement that extends beyond this one day to encourage consumers to support their local startups and businesses year-round. And for some small businesses, that movement begins with participating in SBS.

To make a splash this Small Business Saturday that causes a ripple effect for your startup all year long, you need to:

1. Market, market, market.

How big of a splash you make on Small Business Saturday generally depends on how much footwork you do before the event. After all, you need people to know you’re participating.

Market your business’s participation on Small Business Saturday through:

  • Email.
  • Social media.
  • Your business website.
  • Storefront signs.

Too much on your plate to make marketing materials yourself? American Express has free marketing resources you can download or print to use on SBS and beyond. Materials include posters, social media posts and storefront signage.


Verizon Small Business Digital Ready: A free resource to learn basic business skills, the latest digital technology and more.

2. Look into neighborhood events.

Small businesses aren’t the only ones that can get involved on Small Business Saturday. There are also “Neighborhood Champions” who publicly promote the day and encourage the community to get out and Shop Small. To do so, Champions might put on a neighborhood event for the community to participate in.

You might come across events—complete with food and beverages, games, and music—such as:

  • Block parties.
  • Event guide activities.
  • Neighborhood parades or street fairs.
  • Shopping activities.
  • Pop-ups.

Go ahead and get involved in a neighborhood event on SBS. Contact your local chamber of commerce, library or business associations to see who may be hosting events in your community.

3. Offer a special deal.

What better way to kick off an event than by offering a special deal someone can get that day only?

Offer a special Small Business Saturday deal to sweeten your marketing campaigns, get customers through the door and increase sales. And when it comes to choosing what to offer, the world is your oyster. You can do a percentage discount, offer free products or bundle items.

Before you decide on the best deal to offer, remember to consider how it will impact profits. You don’t want to offer such a good deal that you lose money overall.

4. Collect contact information from customers.

Small Business Saturday isn’t just a one-and-done event. It’s a starting point for your business to make connections with consumers. So, keep in touch with the people you meet on SBS after the day is over.

Try to collect contact information from the people who walk into your business or land on your business website on Small Business Saturday. You can do this through giveaways, surveys or loyalty programs.

Be sure to grab customers’ names, email addresses and phone numbers.

5. Partner with another business.

Picture this: A consumer goes to a baked goods shop, who has a partnership with a coffee shop next door. So, the baked goods shop gives the customer a coupon for a discounted coffee next door. Win-win-win.

Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to build partnerships with other local businesses. Doing so can help you increase both brand awareness and sales. The partnership also might carry over into the future to mutually benefit you both.

Ask around to see what other local businesses plan to participate in SBS. You can check with local organizations (e.g., a chamber of commerce) to see if they know of anyone, too.

6. Don’t skip it just because you’re online-only.

Online-only business? No worries. You can still participate in Small Business Saturday by following the above tips. And, many e-commerce platforms (e.g., eBay and Etsy) have events specifically for Small Business Saturday.

For example, if you’re an online startup, you can:

  • Market on social media, send emails, etc.
  • Participate in pop-up events in your local community.
  • Announce your participation on your website or e-commerce platform.
  • Join online communities and partner up with other online businesses.
  • Find out if there are any influencers (e.g., Instagram) who could champion the event.

One last piece of advice…

In 2020, Small Business Saturday (and the whole year) looked a little different than in the past due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the pandemic is still hanging around, so 2021 is going to look different than pre-COVID times, too.

So, health and safety is something else you need to be cognizant of when planning Small Business Saturday. The last thing you want to do is make a negative splash in your community by contributing to rising case numbers).

But, following health and safety guidelines doesn’t mean you can’t live Small Business Saturday to its fullest. You can make a positive splash and keep everyone in your community safe by:

  • Encouraging customers to wear masks.
  • Limiting the number of people in your store at once.
  • Facilitating social distancing.
  • Participating in outdoor neighborhood events.
  • Accepting contactless payment options (e.g., digital payments).

Best of luck on your first Small Business Saturday, startup companies!


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