Small Business Saturday is tailor-made for small businesses everywhere. It’s the one day of the year that you have a definite advantage and you do not want to miss out! Whether you’re in a retail-driven main street community or a little more removed, there are steps that can be taken to ensure you stand out in the crowd. Just don’t do it alone! Small Business Saturday is about shopping small, of course, but it’s also about building community (not surprising that it’s our favorite day of the year!). So…let’s get started!

1. Get Started.

If you’re completely new to the idea of Small Business Saturday, you’ll find tons of inspiration, information and spotlights on other businesses like yours at the Small Business Saturday Facebook page. Feel free to reach out to the SBS organizers in the Facebook comments with any questions you may have.

2. Excite Your Tribe.

Email Your List – You guys are doing that, right? I know I struggle with consistency, so I’m not judging, but let’s make it a priority. Your customers want to hear from you. They want to know what’s going on in your shop and they especially want to feel like they’re a part of a VIP list of people in the know. So, give them first crack at your Small Business Saturday deals and details.

Use Social Media – Take a tip from the SBS Facebook page (above) and create good, shareable content that makes your audience want to help you market. Don’t forget to use a few of the SBS hashtags in your posts: #ShopSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSat, #ShopSmall.

Postcards/Handouts – I’m still a huge fan of print materials…almost even more so now that people are opting for online marketing only. You have the opportunity to stand out a bit more than you had in the past. Take a few minutes and create a small flyer. At the very least, you can drop one in the bag of each customer that you have from now until Small Business Saturday. Mention any deals, activities and events you have going on in your store. You may even find a partner to help you market. More about that below.

3. Build Community.

Find a Partner – Are you a clothing retailer that can partner with a salon, spa or coffee shop for a “Mom’s Day Out” experience? How about coming together to help men shop for the ladies in their life? What about a restaurant teaming up with a movie theater, bowling alley, or art studio for a “Date Night” gift certificate? The possibilities are endless…and this sort of brainstorming just happens to be our favorite, so reach out if you need a little help.

Partner with Your Entire Town – There is most definitely strength in numbers, so let’s collaborate. The more businesses you can get involved (thus, using their mailing list and audience as your own!) in Small Business Saturday, the more likely your town is to have a larger crowd that day! Even better, Amex put together city guides for this year’s event. Check the map to see if your city is represented. You can also do a zipcode search here for your town to see who’s involved this year.

Find Your Local Chamber – I absolutely love Chambers of Commerce. I belong to two here in Beaver County, PA, and I support their mission whole heartedly. Joining your local chamber is the smallest amount of effort you can put forth to keep your finger on the pulse of local business. They are typically inexpensive and have great programming and partnerships that you can take advantage of…but enough about that. Let’s keep the eye on SBS.

Teaming up with chamber businesses is a quick and easy way to join forces to create a larger event. Rather than throwing a Small Business Saturday event alone in your shop, why not work together to create something more impactful. Create a shopping contest, share the cost of entertainment, participate in group marketing efforts…honestly, the possibilities are endless.

4. Let’s Get This Party Started!

I always feel like this part is too “101” for our audience, but I’m going to go ahead and list our best practices for throwing an event. Just maybe there is something here that hadn’t crossed your mind.

Music – Get some music pumped out onto the streets if you can. Make people feel your vibe before they even cross in front of your store.

Balloons – Balloons are another great way to grab a potential customer’s attention before they’re even near your store. Simple, but effective.

Entertainment – This could be a quick, easy idea such as a musician, or it could be a more well-thought-out collaboration. Example: A toy store could have a children’s choir or children’s art contest. Putting children at the center of the entertainment brings in their parents to see their kiddo in action. Parents will travel far and wide to support their kids…if you haven’t noticed.

Food/Drink – I have joked with a few clients saying that I would go anywhere for wine and cheese. And I’m only partially joking. Your event might supply coffee to drink while you shop, samples from the local bakery, or my personal favorite, wine and cheese. All of these ideas are also ways to collaborate with local businesses and cross-promote, so your mind should definitely be on overdrive at this point.

Greet Your Peeps – Please greet your customers. I’m not one to enjoy an employee that follows you around and bugs you, but I do like to be greeted at the door. If you have coffee or wine, offer to get some for your customers. Going that little extra mile makes a huge difference when you’re competing with the ease of online shopping. This is where Amazon can’t beat you. Go overboard with customer service. You’ll win, every time.

Are you ready to dive in? Make this Small Business Saturday the best one yet…or take these ideas and use them for the entire holiday season. Comment below and let us know what you did and how it went! We can’t wait to hear your small business marketing stories. Good luck!


Need more inspiration? Check out these videos highlighting a few Small Business Saturday ambassadors!


 Bridgeport, Illinois


Roslindale Village, MA


Detroit, MI