By Rachel Karl of Suite 4 Social, reposted with permission

You may be thinking Small Business Saturday is just for retailers. Think again. As a  business owner you can use the very same methods retailers use to get a boost on Small Business Saturday (and all year long!).
A common woe I hear from business owners that are not in the retail industry is that December is typically the slowest month of the year for them. I have great news for you! It doesn’t have to be slow if you think like a retailer.
Here’s what you need to bear in mind: Almost everyone has the shopping bug in November and December. I know I do! All you have to do is offer people a good enough reason to buy from you and many of them will. Below are some tips to help you jump on this shopping holiday AND keep the fever going the whole year-round.
But first, a brief history…
Small Business Saturday is held on the last Saturday in November and is a brain child of American Express to help stimulate the economy by encouraging people to shop local. The first ever Small Business Saturday launched on November 27, 2010, encouraging people everywhere to shop and support small, local businesses.

  • In 2011, the day became officially recognized. From Washington D.C. to Washington State, governors, mayors,senators, and even President Obama, all voiced their support for Small Business Saturday.
  • In 2012, it became a phenomenon as 73.9 Million people went out to shop at small businesses.
  • In 2013, 1430 neighborhood champions signed up to rally their communities to encourage more people and organizations to support the day.
  • In 2014, an estimated $14.3 BILLION was spent at small, independent businesses on Small Business Saturday, proving this is now officially a holiday tradition.

Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. Strategy First. This is an event, so it’s easy to promote because it has a clear date and a purpose. Create a strategy for the event from pre-promotion leading all the way up to the date with actionable steps.
  2. Create a Great Offer. Decide what your business will offer for this and make sure it’s something that draws people in. If you’re a retail shop, the offer can be something like $25 off any purchase of $100 or more. It can also be 25% off any purchase. You have to decide what you’re comfortable offering. If you’re an online or a service-based business, think of a special offer you can send out to people via your email newsletter and social media to incentivize prospects to do business with you.
  3. Think Long-Term Value, not Price. Being small means you have an advantage over the big-box stores because you can offer value in the form of your expertise, great service and small touches. If you can draw 50 more people in to your business on this day than you normally would, having a great offer and treating them well is going to pay for itself for years to come. The long-term benefits of gaining new customers and the lifetime value of their repeat business and referrals will make any discounts you give today pale in comparison.
  4. Save-the-Date. Create emails, signage, social media posts, Save-the-Date cards and other ways to tell people in advance what you’re going to offer on this day to create buzz in advance. You can even download some free email and poster templates here.
  5. Offer Treats. People can’t resist free food and drinks. Set out some coffee or cider and cookies to draw even more people in. Or have a wine vendor come in and pour tastings for people to sip and shop.
  6. Online Advertising. Get showcased on the homepage and apply to have your business featured in Small Business Saturday® online media during the month of November. You can also run Facebook ads or Google ads to attract more exposure and drive more traffic your way.
  7. Continue the Relationship. When new customers visit your business, whether it’s on Small Business Saturday or any other time of the year, have way to capture their name and contact information. An easy way to do this is to create a birthday program. Ask customers to add their birthdate to your contact form, and tell them you send everyone a special offer on their birthday and on a few other occasions during the year. You can do this on a clipboard or set up an iPad using Mailchimp or ConstantContact forms so people can add their info and get into your email list automatically. To give an extra incentive to do this, you can tell them for signing up they automatically receive a $5 coupon just for signing up and it will be sent to their inbox to use on their next purchase.

Without a strategy, clear goals and a well-thought out campaign, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. Make Small Business Saturday a part of your year-round marketing plan and create more events just like it to boost sales during slow times of the year as well.
Thanks so much for reading. Let me know if I can help in any way! Leave a comment below, or email me directly at It is highly encouraged!