Sandwiched in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday, a holiday that is dedicated to supporting small businesses by “shopping small” in communities throughout the nation.
Created by American Express in 2010, this holiday has been steadily growing among entrepreneurs and consumers.
In 2016, American Express reported that Small Business Saturday hit a record high in the United States, as 112 million consumers shopped and dined out with more than 6,700 small businesses and organizations signed up to be a part of the celebration, a 63 percent increase from 2015 where 4,100 businesses participated in the events.
Even better, consumer awareness of the holiday is growing, with 72 percent of American consumers familiar with the day and the benefits that it brings to local communities. If you’re ready to sign your business up as a neighborhood champion for the first time (or if you’re a seasoned pro joining again), here’s what you can do to make Small Business Saturday pop.
Set up a welcome station and hold an open house
One of the biggest benefits of shopping small is that you’re giving the community a peek at your business. Maybe they’ve passed it before, curious about what you have to offer, but never stopped in to check it out. This holiday is your time to shine, so think beyond discounts and open your doors with an open house and a welcome station.
American Express advises that before shoppers are encouraged to begin shopping, establishing a welcome station helps educate them on what your small business — and other startups around you — are all about. At the welcome station, you can provide printable materials like postcards and posters, complimentary tote bags, along with digital asset information, like hashtags, that shoppers can use when sharing photos or status updates on social media platforms to promote the holiday.
Then, get creative with your open house. Put on some fun music, set out some complimentary treats, host a raffle drawing or giveaway, decorate and make sure you have plenty of enthusiastic, friendly staff around to answer questions and greet visitors.
Host an event to get to know other small business owners
You’re connecting with customers, but what about your fellow Small Business Saturday business owners? If you don’t know much about the entrepreneurs in your neighborhood, it’s time to change that.
American Express also suggests hosting a breakfast for the community and inviting other small business owners to join. Reach out to those participating and plan the kind of breakfast you’ll host (whether it’s catered, potluck or another small business offering up their own tasty eats), get a head count on who will be there, where you’ll meet up and what time. Typically, these are held pretty early as you’ll likely be spending the day with customers. Use this time to mingle and introduce yourself — who knows, you might meet some potential business partners!
Start talking about making it happen now
For many small businesses, the focus might be placed primarily on deals and discounts you can offer consumers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, making Small Business Saturday easily seem like an afterthought. But it’s just as much of a giant as the others are, especially within your community.
Start discussing ideas for getting involved with your team and apply to sign up with American Express. Once you’ve officially decided to become a neighborhood champion, you can begin strategizing on what you’ll offer, how you’ll prep your storefront and the kind of outreach you have planned. Use social media and through word of mouth to get customers excited to drop by and support your company, along with getting to know more about the other small businesses in their community.