Small Business Saturday Ideas
  • Category:
    Small Business Energy Savings
  • Published:
    October 16, 2017
  • Updated:
    July 28, 2022

Small Business Saturday Promotion Ideas

The only thing “small” about Small Business Saturday is the size of the businesses that participate in this increasingly popular shopping holiday. If you’re struggling to brainstorm marketing ideas for this year’s event —or you’re getting a late start—we’re here to help. Get all the information you need and take advantage of these Small Business Saturday promotion ideas.

Small Business Saturday Marketing Tips

15 Small Business Saturday marketing and promotion ideas

For a successful kickoff to this critical holiday sales season, you’ll want to have a marketing plan in place before the shopping rush begins. You’ll also want to be prepared with guidance on masks, social distancing and other safety measures. Read below for a list of Small Business Saturday promotion ideas that can help attract new and returning customers to your business, while also ensuring a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.

1. Use the Small Business Saturday hashtag

Hashtag posts with #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSaturday and #ShopSmall on your social media platforms to increase customer engagement. The #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtag has been in use since early 2010 and actually allows companies to promote business on any Saturday (not simply the one between Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

With more than 2.3 million uses on Instagram and over 3.3 million likes on Facebook, it’s clear how incorporating these Small Business Saturday hashtags into your posts can be important. However, it’s worth keeping up on best practices for hashtag use across different social media platforms, as they may vary or change over time.

Using the hashtag #smallbusinesssaturday for marketing

2. Download the Shop Small logo

You can download the Shop Small logo for your business’s website and access a variety of other resources and marketing materials through the American Express Shop Small site.

3. Do a special promotion or run social media ads

Choose a customer of the week, and feature them on your company’s Facebook page as a way to build engagement and shareability. Tweet about expanded hours and offer special deals to early shoppers.

Many social media sites have budget-friendly advertising options. Facebook, for example, can be as cheap as $1 to $5 per day, and businesses can set a maximum budget to help control advertising costs. Consider running a promotional ad with the Small Business Saturday hashtag in the days leading up to Small Business Saturday.

4. Don’t forget to send a newsletter

Promote your newsletter or blog through social media channels, and invite customers to sign up for special offers, new-product alerts or early notifications of sales. You can also include important information for customers regarding mask policies, capacity limits and social distancing measures.

5. Go live on social media

Tell your story on social media using Facebook Live, Instagram Live or other mobile video apps to attract attention and reach your customers digitally. This is a great marketing idea for small businesses trying to gain exposure.

6. Prepare some flyers ahead of time

Make some posters featuring the Shop Small logo, as well as event flyers for your storefront. Get creative and try to incorporate designs that will catch your customers’ eyes. You may also want to note whether customers are encouraged to wear masks or follow any other safety precautions.

7. Offer discounts for purchases that are in-store only

Getting customers into your store allows them to get a better feel for your brand and can naturally lead to an increase in sales. If your company has a website, offer your customers discounts on Small Business Saturday for purchases that are in-store only. You could also consider offering a no-contact pickup option for online shoppers hoping to catch the same limited time deals.

8. Make your promotion “Saturday only”

Develop ideas for shop local promotions that are available only on Small Business Saturday. If you’ve adapted your in-person business and want to push online sales, offer free shipping, local delivery and hands-free pickup on that Saturday or for some other limited period during the holidays.

9. Invite customers at checkout the week before to attend Small Business Saturday activities and promotions

And for the most personal touch of all, invite customers directly. Prepare a short, friendly invitation—“We’d love to see you next weekend at Small Business Saturday!”—and coach your cashiers or co-workers to spread the word.

10. Decorate your window with energy-efficient displays


As you create holiday displays that require increased lighting, you can use these tips for decorating your storefront both safely and efficiently:

  • Choose lights that have the Underwriters Label (UL), which shows they meet US safety requirements.
  • Use the correct lights for their intended use: outdoor lights belong outdoors; indoor lights belong indoors.
  • Check for frayed wires, damaged sockets or cracked insulation before installing your lights.
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets. Instead, use energy-efficient power strips (“smart strips”).
  • When possible, use energy-efficient decorative lights.

11. Offer snacks and refreshments

Shopping can work up consumers’ appetites. If you have the space to do it comfortably and safely, you can offer coffee, hot cocoa and snacks on Small Business Saturday or you can partner with a local restaurant or food truck to offer free snacks or discounted quick-meal options to keep your customers interested. This is a shop local promotion idea that shows your customers you value them and care.

12. Play music to attract new customers

Cheerful holiday carols help create a mood of excitement for the upcoming season. Try engaging customers by having them vote for their favorite holiday song, or partner with a local musician to play live music during peak hours.

13. Make your store kid-friendly

Create a holiday-themed display or designate a spot in the store where kids can pick a small gift while Mom and Dad browse other items in the store. If their kids are safe and content, parents may be more inclined to stick around and continue shopping.

14. Brainstorm “tough to buy for” shopping lists

The holidays are a time of joyful giving, but it can sometimes get stressful trying to choose the perfect present. Chances are, your shop holds just the right treasure someone’s searching for. Help customers out by creating a list of gift ideas for people who are tough to buy for and sharing it in your store and on your social media accounts.

15. Join forces with other local businesses

Small business saturday tip promotion idea

You can team up with other local businesses in your community and develop Small Business Saturday promotion ideas together. For example, issue a “passport” with the Shop Small logo that consumers can get stamped or initialed at participating small businesses that allows them to win a prize or discount once it’s filled out. Consumers don’t necessarily have to make a purchase, but the exposure is a step in the right direction.

A socially-distanced scavenger hunt or coordinated city-wide Small Business Saturday-themed bingo game is another fun way to bring customers into your local small businesses. Shoppers who complete the checklist could receive a discount at participating stores.

Small Business Saturday FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

If this shopping holiday is new to you, check below for some frequently asked questions. We’ll clear up any confusion and help you get on the road to participating in this year’s Small Business Saturday.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a shopping holiday held in the United States during what is possibly the busiest shopping season of the year. As a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday—which promote large retail and e-commerce stores, respectively—Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to purchase from small, local, brick-and-mortar businesses.

The popularity of Small Business Saturday has increased greatly since it began. Small Business Saturday is part of the larger Shop Small initiative, whose goal is to create love and support for local businesses and to promote vibrant, diverse communities.

When is Small Business Saturday 2021?

Small Business Saturday is Saturday, November 27, 2021. It is observed on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving and falls in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

When did it start?

Small Business Saturday was initially launched in 2010 as a way to celebrate and promote marketing ideas for small businesses during the always-critical Thanksgiving-to-Christmas holiday rush.

November 27, 2010, was the inaugural Small Business Saturday. The event followed a widely publicized marketing initiative via social media, radio ads and public relations.

Why is Small Business Saturday important for my business?

In an age where consumers increasingly shop online—not just during the holidays, but in general—Small Business Saturday is critical. Capitalizing on that peak holiday rush is one key to keeping your small business successful throughout the slow seasons. And remember that your small business helps the local economy thrive.

Unique gifts, genuinely friendly customer service and direct support for the local economy are what Small Business Saturday is all about. When your consumers get on board with this idea, everybody wins!

Shop small, shop local

Each year, millions of people already shop at small businesses, including retailers, restaurants and more. Since it began in 2010, Small Business Saturday has helped small businesses see a huge increase in sales. This year, take advantage of these shop local promotion ideas and show your customers how great shopping local really is!

↓ Share these Small Business Saturday promotion ideas — as well as other business planning tips — with your fellow local small business owners.

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