Easy and Effective Marketing Ideas for Small Business Saturday 2023

Corinna Keefe
Corinna Keefe
If you run a small business, local store or ecommerce, then Small Business Saturday is for you! Here's everything you need to know about the holiday - plus 6 simple marketing ideas to promote your business on #smallbizsat.

When is Small Business Saturday?

Small Business Saturday is a celebration of small, local, and e-commerce businesses. It falls on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, the day after Black Friday. In 2022, Small Business Saturday will be on November 26th.

Small Business Saturday is 11 years old this year. It was created back in 2010 by American Express and the National Trust for Heritage Preservation, which wanted to support small and local businesses. AmEx marked the day by giving away free ad space to small companies, and offering rebates for new start-ups businesses. And it continues to run the @shopsmall account on Instagram, which showcases the best in local American businesses.

But Small Business Saturday has grown a lot since that first celebration in 2010. Today, it’s internationally successful, and businesses from all over the world participate. 

  • B2C brands love Small Business Saturday because it brings in more customers, strengthens local communities, and kick-starts the Christmas shopping season. The hashtag #smallbizsat also helps consumers discover small local businesses on social media.
  • B2B brands love Small Business Saturday because it’s a chance to promote their customers and focus on the needs of local and e-commerce brands.

Why Small Business Saturday matters more in 2023

The last couple of years have been weird for marketers. Many of the big events that we build our calendar have been affected. We have been in and out of lockdowns and enduring business and travelling restrictions. This has had an undeniable effect on the way we conduct marketing campaigns.

As we seem to slowly make our way back to normality, people are leaning more heavily on the autumn/winter holidays this year, including Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. And Small Business Saturday is right there in the center of the season. 

Of course, the holidays are stating to look a little more normal this year. But we are still not fully there – and Small Business Saturday is a major sales opportunity for small online and local businesses.

Whether your brand has thrived with DTC sales, or is just starting to recover, you can’t afford to miss Small Business Saturday. And with the right celebrations, you could even collect leads and customer data to keep sales flowing for the rest of the year.

Let’s get you on your way with some inspiration…

How to promote your business for Small Business Saturday

Before we dive into specific examples, I want to highlight a few key points. These apply to every small business, whether brick-and-mortar or ecommerce.

Small Business Saturday is about celebrating businesses with real people and stories behind them, so it’s vital to highlight that in your messaging. This is also a good time to show your commitment to your community, local causes, customers and brand purpose.

Small Business Saturday marketing tips

  • Tell the unique story of your business.
  • Show support for other local businesses and organisations.
  • Thank customers for their business and support.
  • Demonstrate your credentials when it comes to sustainability or other causes you believe in.

Now, bearing all that in mind, here are 6 ideas for increasing sales and subscribers on Small Business Saturday 2022.

#1 Discounts and free gifts

It might seem counter-intuitive to offer discounts on a day which is about focusing sales on small businesses – but, used judiciously, coupon campaigns can be a highly effective sales tool. While your profit margin may be slightly smaller, offering targeted discounts will increase footfall and the number of sales you make overall.

One way to make discounts pay off – and stick to the ethos of Small Business Saturday – is to team up with another business. For example, this bookstore offered a 20% discount, as well as treats from another local business:

bookstore twitter

You’ll notice that in the tweet, they asked customers to RSVP to the offer. This meant that the store could plan ahead in terms of the coupons and treats on offer. They also collected vital contact details from customers, so they could keep selling and retargeting once the holiday was over.

#2 Prepare for holiday shopping

While you’re thinking about your business, most consumers are already looking forward to Christmas gifts. So if you want to boost sales, this is a good opportunity to focus on seasonal products, gift items and rewards.

For example, you could run a Small Business Saturday competition, where players could win a giftcard for Christmas shopping or a holiday hamper. You can make this promotion as simple or as sophisticated as you like.

2 screenshots from an online lifestyle blog. The first reads "Small Business Saturday and a giveaway", above a photo of a decorated Christmas tree. The second screenshot offers readers a 25% off coupon code and the chance to win a gift card by signing up.

The simplest option is a classic email list giveaway: you run a prize draw for everyone who signs up for your email newsletters. But if you want to add some fun to the proceedings, you could set up a Small Business Saturday prize wheel with a range of rewards on offer.

#3 Product recommenders

You’ve probably used a product recommender yourself. These have been one of the breakout trends of 2022: detailed quizzes which offer each customer a personalized recommendation.

This is a great way to connect with customers on an individual level and teach them about the full range of your products and services. At the same time as helping customers, you get valuable information about who they are, what their priorities are, and which products they prefer.

#4 Games and virtual experiences

In 2022, there are two ways to go shopping:

  • online, in a virtual experience with no human interaction.
  • in store, with extra queues and health measures.

Put like that, both experiences sound pretty bleak. But you can make them more fun for customers! In both cases, the solution is gamification.

What does that mean? Put briefly, it’s when you add elements of chance, skill and competition to make an experience or task more exciting. 

For example, in an online store, you could ask people to play a quick mini game to see if they’ve won a discount or free gift. Like this game from Burberry, which is surprisingly addictive:

Screenshot of the Burberry B-Surf platform game, with the tagline "ride a wave through our monogram world". The image shows a cartoon animal in Burberry gear with a surfboard. Users can click "play" or "main menu".

And in a brick-and-mortar store, you could set up QR codes linked to games, so that people can scan the codes and play on their phones if they’re getting bored of queuing. 

See the full range of game apps from Easypromos!

#5 Events and activities

If your store has a brick-and-mortar site, then you can celebrate Small Business Saturday with events and activities in the store. You could also team up with other local businesses to hold events on the street or in a pop-up market.

This food store organised a Small Business Saturday festival with a Dickensian theme, tapping into nostalgia for the Christmas shopping season. As well as teaming up with other businesses, they raised money to support local entrepreneurs and keep the market going. 

event facebook giveaway

So the event got their Christmas sales off to a start, gave customers a magical holiday experience, and strengthened their community ties.

#6 Social media contests

Finally, if you’re just looking for a quick fix, you could run a classic social media contest or giveaway.

Do you want to run a social media giveaway for Small Business Saturday? Use our customizable Instagram and Facebook templates for your Small Business Saturday giveaway. Download free resources, save some time and boost social media engagement!

When you use the #smallbizsat and #smallbusinesssaturday hashtags, you’ll tap into a wave of engagement and interest around the big day. And when you run a prize draw for people who comment on your posts or share photos of your business, you’ll reach even more new followers.

What are your plans for Small Business Saturday 2020? Tell us how you’re celebrating! And if you’d like any more ideas or tips for your campaign, you can chat live with our support team. We’ll be delighted to help.