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Small Business Saturday: What it is (plus 14 ideas to boost sales)

With shoppers ready to pull out their wallets on Small Business Saturday, it’s vital to prep your business. We’ll show you how to make the most of this shopping holiday.

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As a small business, you may not have the resources to go head-to-head with larger businesses on holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

That said, there’s a holiday you can take full advantage of, and that’s all for you — Small Business Saturday.

This guide will explain what Small Business Saturday is, its origins, and how you can set up your small business to make the most of it.

Let’s dive in.

What is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is an initiative started by American Express in 2010 to encourage shoppers to shop (in-person or online) from local businesses and service providers.

It’s an annual shopping holiday event held after Thanksgiving on the last Saturday of November — between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This one-day shopping holiday aims to spotlight small businesses and their effects on local communities. 

Over the years, Small Business Saturday has continued to grow in popularity among shoppers who want to support local businesses. 

For instance, according to the National Retail Federation, more than 121.4 million people shopped in-store or online on the last Saturday of November 2022. 77% (or 94.5 million) of these shoppers mentioned Small Business Saturday as the specific reason they went shopping. 

Regarding revenue generated, American Express reported that sales from 2022’s Small Business Saturday amounted to over $17.9 billion

Considering the effect such financial inflow can have on local communities, it’s unsurprising that more people continue to support Small Business Saturday as the years pass.

How though can you position your business to get the most from this shopping holiday?

Let’s consider some ideas.

How to run a Small Business Saturday sale

Customers are the lifeblood of any business — whether big or small. And it’s crucial to do all you can to attract, engage, and retain them as long as it aligns with your core values and mission.

This section of our guide will show how you can make your upcoming Small Business Saturday sale successful.

You’ll learn what you can do to:

  1. Attract customers before Saturday (i.e., promotion ideas),
  2. Engage these customers on Saturday (i.e., customer service and sales ideas)
  3. Retain them after the sales end on Saturday

7 Small business Saturday promotion ideas: To do before Saturday

Small business owners who fail to prepare for the Small Business Saturday sale have prepared to fail.

Here are seven Small Business Saturday promotion ideas to help attract shoppers to your business. These ideas are good to promote before the day of Small Business Saturday, which is Saturday, November 25, 2023, this year.

We suggest being proactive by choosing a few ideas from this list and preparing your sale at the beginning of November. This will provide time and breathing room to:

  1. Brainstorm your sales (BOGO, flash sale, discount offers, etc.)
  2. Write your messages (tip: free AI tools like chatGPT can help you write social media posts, text messages, emails, and more)
  3. Gather visuals (whether that’s working with a designer or photographer, or shooting some pics yourself)
  4. Stage or create the final deliverables (like building out social media posts and emails, getting ads to local newspapers, etc.)

1. List or register your business

American Express has a Small Shop® map shoppers can use to find local stores and service providers near them quickly. 

If you’ve not already done so, you should register your business so customers can find you. If you’ve registered or listed your business already, you can always edit your profile to include the latest information about your products and services.

You can also create or update your business listing on Facebook, Yelp, or your Google Business Profile. These sites allow your business to appear on the results page for relevant searches.

2. Highlight your impact on the community

The local community drives the turnout seen on Small Business Saturday. Before that weekend, you should look for ways to share your business’s positive impact on the community.

You could highlight:

  • The number of jobs you’ve provided to locals
  • Your donations to a charity
  • How your taxes directly affect the community’s development

Sharing such stories increases the likelihood that the community will support your business when the day comes. Social media posts are a great medium for sharing these stories.

3. Create a social media campaign

Social media is an excellent medium to attract customers or inform people that you’re holding a Small Business Saturday sale.

While it might be overkill to want to get in touch with the over 4.59 billion social media users, you can create campaigns tailored to your locality. 

A good place to start is by using official hashtags like #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSaturday. Add more local hashtags to personalize your social media posts further.

You can create social media contests or giveaways, partner with local influencers, or run ads to build excitement for Saturday’s sale.

American Express provides resources and support for small business owners to improve their efforts to reach people on social media.

4. Run email promos

Another way to drum up anticipation for your Small Business Saturday sale is sending sales reminders to your email list.

Since people on your email list are already interested in your business, it’ll be easier to get them to show support when Saturday arrives.

Here’s an example of what you might send to your list.

You can offer special discounts, inform your list of new products in-store or online, or run a contest.

5. Use SMS marketing

Aside from excellent open and read rates, SMS marketing helps you cut through online noise and reach your customers directly.

Now is the time to start building your text list if you’ve not already started. You can build your text list by

  • Offering exclusive discounts
  • Promoting it at your storefront or website
  • Using text-to-join keywords to make opt-ins seamless.

Once you have your list, you should compose and send mass text messages that inform them of your upcoming sale.

📚 Recommended reading: A beginner’s guide to SMS promotional campaigns

A business texting service like SimpleTexting allows you to schedule these text messages in advance.

Be sure to send messages about your sale well ahead of time to give shoppers enough time to prepare. 

While you’re building up to your Saturday sale, it’s also vital to send non-promotional messages that your audience will find helpful. For instance, you could create a holiday fashion guide if you run a clothing store.

You can apply these texting tips for other holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.

6. Advertise with your local media

Since you likely want to attract a local audience, advertisements in media like the local newspaper, TV stations, or radio can help draw in a crowd.

You can also print posters and pass out flyers that contain offers people would want.

7. Update your website

You should consider updating or optimizing your website to show up on the results page for keywords — especially the local ones — related to your business.

You can add new banners on your home pages and across other pages that mention your Small Business Saturday offerings.

In addition, you can create landing pages dedicated to offering more information about the sale.

Your website can also point people to social media, email, and SMS, where they can see more offers or join your list.

💡 You can add web signup forms to your website to convert visitors into text messaging contacts.

Small Business Saturday sales ideas: What to do on Saturday

Now that you’ve promoted your small business before the sale, let’s consider some ideas to help you boost your sales on Saturday.

8. Collaborate with other small businesses

Remember that Small Business Saturday is all about the local community. Only a few things show a greater sense of community than collaborating with other small businesses around you.

You could partner to:

  • Host a contest
  • Cross-sell products
  • Bundle service packages or certificates
  • Share the space on your storefront

It might seem minute, but collaboration shows shoppers the value you place on community building and might motivate them to shop with you.

9. Offer jaw-dropping deals

You can never go wrong with offering discounts and deals. Since Small Business Saturday is an annual event, you could create once-a-year deals.

Examples of sales deals you could offer include:

  • Buy One Get One (BOGO)
  • Free samples
  • Lifestyle discounts
  • Flash sales
  • Giveaways
  • Redeemable vouchers

10. Ensure excellent customer service

Small Business Saturday is expected to be hectic. However, doing all you can to meet (and exceed) your customers’ needs is crucial.

Excellent customer service does more than attract people to your business. It also makes your customers spend more. Zendesk reports that 75% of people would spend more with businesses that offer excellent customer service.


Considering how tied to the community your business is, a great start to excellent customer service is by offering personalized experiences. For instance, when interacting with customers, you could prioritize using customer names or other details you know about them (don’t get creepy, though).

You should also listen to your customers and train your employees so these customers get excellent experiences at every touchpoint with your business.

11. Have enough stock

After doing a lot of promotions, it would be a shame to tell the long line outside your store that you’ve run out of stock.

To avoid such, you must stock up on all your products — especially the ones that sell out fast.

It’s better to have more than enough on Saturday than to not have enough. After all, you can always sell the excess, if any, after the holidays.

Small Business Saturday ideas to retain customers after the holiday

Saturday has come and gone. What can you do to keep the customers you gained after the sale?

Here are some ideas.

12. Ask for reviews and feedback

After your sale, ask your customers questions about your service, products, and channels of communication.

The reviews and feedback you receive can be a goldmine where you can uncover things you can do to serve your customers better.

When customers see you’re actively listening and improving, it’ll motivate them to return.

Furthermore, overwhelmingly positive reviews can attract new customers to your business and strengthen existing customers’ trust in your business.

13. Create and offer loyalty programs

Show appreciation for customers who shopped with your business during the Small Business Saturday sale by offering a loyalty program.

Loyalty programs reward customers for shopping with you and incentivize them to continue doing so.

With such a program in place, your business will make more sales, receive more customer referrals, and have an improved customer retention rate.

14. Keep up with SMS

Staying top of your customers’ minds is crucial for retention. SMS offers one of the easiest ways to keep in touch with your customers long after the Small Business Saturday sale.

Let’s assume you want to reengage a customer who hasn’t bought from you in a while. You could send a personalized text message to understand why they’ve become inactive and then give them a reason to return.

Brooke, we haven’t seen you at the studio in a few weeks. We just wanted to check in and make sure everything is okay! – ❤️ Lauren from Pure Barre

You could also use SMS to show customers how to use a product they just purchased, send relevant information or material to customers, or follow up on people who didn’t complete their purchase.

Final thoughts

The success of your Small Business Saturday sale depends on how well you prepare. 

So, in the coming weeks, take the time to set things in place to attract customers, sell to them, and continue to engage them after the sale.

In all of this, SMS plays a role you can’t overlook. Backed by a powerful SMS marketing software like SimpleTexting, you can be sure to reach your sales goals.

Are you interested in seeing how you could use text marketing for your small business? You can start a free trial of SimpleTexting right now and send a text to yourself to see how easy it is to communicate effectively with your fans. And if you need inspiration for how to best use texting, give our small business podcast a listen.

Nathan Ojaokomo
Nathan Ojaokomo

Nathan Ojaokomo has created content for leading SaaS brands like CoSchedule, Vimeo, Metigy, and Sender. He's a firm believer that companies who win are the ones that put their customers first.

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