It can be hard for small businesses to compete with the larger players.
Especially when larger businesses are able to discount their products more heavily during major shopping holidays like Black Friday.
That’s why Small Business Saturday exists.
It’s a yearly holiday held on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday (November 28th in 2020) to encourage customers to shop local and support small businesses.
Small Business Saturday is much younger than its older siblings, originally being started by American Express in 2010 who promoted the occasion across the US on television, radio, and social media.
But for an event that’s only a decade old, it’s quickly become popular not only in the US but also in the UK.
Why Small Business Saturday is important
Part of the reason Small Business Saturday has gained popularity so quickly likely comes down to how much shoppers want to support their local small businesses.
Approximately 86% of shoppers are willing to pay more for products and services when they come from a small or local business and nearly half claim they regularly go out of their way to support locally owned businesses.
And supporting small businesses is important for the wider economy as well.
The vast majority of businesses in the US are small, local enterprises with them also directly employing nearly half of the total workforce. What’s more, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in the local economy on average compared to just $43 for large businesses.
Why you should participate in Small Business Saturday
If you run a small or local business, there’s no reason not to get involved in the action.
Over half of US shoppers know about Small Business Saturday and of those who are aware of it, 80% say they plan on supporting their local small businesses on the day.
This is backed up by sales data which saw that online sales alone totaled over $3 billion on Small Business Saturday last year.
And those figures are pre-COVID as well.
Seeing as small businesses have largely borne the brunt of the devastating impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, shoppers are more willing than ever to give small merchants a helping hand.
How to get involved
For merchants – the good thing about Small Business Saturday over its Black Friday and Cyber Monday siblings is that shoppers aren’t going in with the mindset of grabbing a bargain and taking advantage of super low prices.
Instead, shoppers go into Small Business Saturday with the intention of supporting your store. This means that you don’t need to even run a sale as there are many other ways to get involved, including:
Send a Small Business Saturday email
This is an obvious one, but the best way to get involved with Small Business Saturday is to email your customers and simply let them know about the day.
In addition to letting them know about Small Business Saturday and why shopping small is important, this is an opportunity to talk about how you help support the local community and encourage them to visit your store.
To help foster this sense of community further it’s also worth thanking your customers for their support and letting them know how much you appreciate that they shop with you.
The email campaign below from Graham’s Sporting Goods is a good example of this in action.
Team up with other local merchants
Small Business Saturday is all about coming together to support our local communities. One great way you can do this is by teaming up with other local businesses to support each other.
You could do this by including offers from other retailers in your email campaigns in exchange for them doing the same with your offers.
It doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement either. Simply retweeting and sharing their social media posts will show your support and likely get them doing the same for you.
Not only does this signal to potential customers that you’re committed to helping their local community, but teaming up also expands your reach by leveraging other stores’ audiences for free.
Run an offer
Again, running a sale or an offer isn’t necessary, but it can be a great way to get more people through your store.
If you decide to run a promotion, don’t be afraid to get creative with it either. You could, for instance, offer a free gift with every purchase or provide free home delivery for people living in your local area.
Of course, you could simply opt for the regular percentage-off discount like Forest Finds has done in their Small Business Saturday email below.
The great thing about this email is the clever use of copywriting with “Black Friday is so yesterday.” It’s the perfect line to use in your Small Business Saturday marketing on the Saturday itself.
Support a local cause
As shoppers supporting Small Business Saturday tend to do so to support their local community more so than to pick up a bargain, you might want to consider supporting a local cause.
This could mean simply pledging a percentage of your proceeds on the day to a local charity or even a sports club.
By advertising this initiative to your customers through email and social media posts, you’re giving potential shoppers two reasons to shop with you: Support a local business and a local cause at the same time.
This better aligns with shoppers’ motivations and will help your business stand out among all the others who are simply encouraging people to shop locally.
Thank customers for their support
Small Business Saturday is the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, so the simplest email you could send your customers is one that taps into the spirit of the holiday season and thanks them for their support.
The email below from the Wooden Barrel is a good example of this.
While it likely won’t get their restaurant fully booked-out on Saturday, it’ll help build brand loyalty which will be much more valuable over the longer-term.
For such a young shopping event, Small Business Saturday has harnessed people’s eagerness to support small and local businesses. And with it now gaining popularity outside of the US there’s no reason for any small merchant not to jump onboard.
All that is really required is to send a dedicated Small Business Saturday email on the day itself.
Whether you want to hold a sale or run some other kind of promotion or community event is up to you.
For more resources to help with your email campaigns, check out our list of Small Business Saturday subject lines you can use here.