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  • Writer's pictureSophia Fang

How to Prepare for Small Business Saturday 2020 in the Pandemic

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Graphic reads "How to Prepare for Small Business Saturday in the Pandemic"

There’s nothing small about Small Business Saturday. In fact, American consumers spent nearly $20 billion at locally-owned businesses and restaurants on Small Business Saturday in 2019 alone!

Whether you’re looking to build brand awareness, drive sales, or engage your customers, Small Business Saturday is a golden opportunity to promote your business.

But just like everything else in 2020, things aren’t really the same this year. With many shoppers stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, how are you going to innovate and seize the day to promote your small business?

We’ve got 12 tips and strategies that you can try out this Small Business Saturday!


The first thing to figure out for Small Business Saturday

Before you decide on what you’re doing on the day of Small Business Saturday, it’s important to gauge your capacity for running special promotions during the pandemic. You have the choice of opening in-person, creating a virtual promotion, or doing a blend of both.

With the pandemic happening this year, you’ll need to do some extra planning for each of these promotional structures.

If you plan to open in-person during the holiday, then preparing sufficient PPE and scheduling employee hours early will be a top priority. If you expect a big jump in online sales, then you should make sure that your online shop is functioning properly—or perhaps it’s time for an entire revamp.

Once you’ve figured out your structure, it’s time to start strategizing!


Small Business Saturday strategies for your business

1. Remind your customers often

If your goal is to drive sales during Small Business Saturday weekend, then telling your customers about the holiday and putting your exciting plans front-and-center is your top priority. Building buzz takes multiple touchpoints across multiple channels, so if you’re doing something interesting, don’t be afraid to reach out to your customers more than once.

Make sure to start early and leverage all of the channels at your disposal: your email newsletter, website, social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.), and more. We also recommend tapping into local forums in your area, whether it be your city’s Reddit thread, neighborhood Facebook groups, or local newsletters.

2. Create teasers to gradually build up momentum

If you’re concerned about possibly spamming or fatiguing your customers with too much information, then creating teasers to lead up to your Small Business Saturday promotion is an excellent way to build suspense.

Instead of announcing your entire promotion immediately and posting the same content repeatedly, you can create a series of social posts or emails hinting to your customers to expect something special.

After that, you can wait until the few days before Small Business Saturday or on the day of the holiday to go public with the actual promotion, creating urgency to buy with the short notice.

3. Just posting about the holiday is a great first step!

Even if you aren’t planning a specific Small Business Saturday promotion, just posting about the holiday is a great bite-sized step. It’ll remind your customers and fans about your business and how important it is to support small businesses in our community like yours.

If you’re looking for a holiday graphic to post on your social media accounts or email, you can download our free Small Business Saturday 2020 social media kit with templates for Facebook, Instagram Story, email, and more.

Download your free social media kit for Small Business Saturday!

4. Run flash sales to compete with Black Friday and Cyber Monday

With Small Business Saturday occurring right between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’ll be facing some fierce competition from national chains and e-commerce brands. Running flash sales with limited edition products or over a short period of time will help you whet your customers’ appetite early so that they can start planning their holiday shopping lists with your business in mind.

5. Offer a $10 gift certificate to customers who buy $100

A marketing strategy that you can use to promote customer loyalty is to offer a $5 to $10 gift certificate for people who spend $100 or more at your business that they can use on a later date. With the gift certificate in hand, your customers will come back again to use it—plus in all likelihood, spend a bit extra at your business!

6. Give a small gift to customers who write online reviews of your business

If getting online reviews is important to your business, consider running a promotion that encourages customers to leave an online review of your business in exchange for a free small gift, such as a small pin or sticker.

Keep in mind that some online platforms may have strict guidelines about asking customers for reviews, so do your research before implementing it. For example, if you want to run a small business promotion like this on Yelp, an alternative would be to use Yelp’s check-in offer function.

7. Launch a Honeycomb campaign

If you’re a growth-minded business that has big plans for the winter and the upcoming year, you can launch a Honeycomb crowdfunding campaign as your Small Business Saturday strategy and set yourself up for success. A Honeycomb campaign will unlock the capital you need to make your project happen, plus give your customers a tangible way to support you on Small Business Saturday.

Last year, we had a cohort of a dozen businesses who used Honeycomb as their holiday strategy, all of whom reached their funding goal within 2 weeks of Small Business Saturday.

8. Run a Livestream raffle or online giveaway

Another way to bring your Small Business Saturday entirely online is to run a giveaway for some free products. This could take many forms: asking your fans to tag a friend in the comments or repost on Instagram, running a raffle over Livestream, or entering to win by filling out an email form.


Ways to collaborate on Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is the perfect opportunity to collaborate with other businesses in your space, whether it be businesses in the same neighborhood, folks who share the same values and mission, or are in the same industry vertical. By joining forces, you can tap into each other’s customer bases—and two (or more) is better than one.

9. Set up a virtual marketplace with neighborhood businesses

While a giant in-person neighborhood gathering may not be possible during the pandemic, you can create a virtual marketplace or online shop with products from the participating businesses in your neighborhood. For a more lightweight solution, you could also create a map of a virtual neighborhood with stops at the different businesses. This strategy is a great opportunity to elevate yourself as a small business leader and help catalyze an event in your community.

10. Join an existing virtual holiday event or guide

If you like the idea of doing a virtual marketplace or neighborhood tour but don’t have the bandwidth to do it from scratch, you can also contact your CDO (community development organization), chamber of commerce, or other neighborhood organization. Chances are, your local organizations are already planning upcoming events that you can tap into.

If you're looking for a way to reach locally-minded shoppers across the country, you can apply by November 20 to join our first ever Small Business Saturday 2020 Virtual Market here!

11. Collaborate with a business on a joint product or holiday care package

With the pandemic throwing a wrench in holiday travel plans, many consumers will be relying on online shopping and shipping to send gifts to loved ones. You can tap into these behaviors by collaborating with another local business to offer products exclusive to the holiday season, such as a new joint product or pooling your current product lines together to make a holiday care package or gift basket.

12. Run a promotion where a receipt from a neighboring business gets you 10% off

Another promotion that you can run to encourage neighborly goodwill is to give a small discount to customers if they show a paper or electronic receipt to another business in your neighborhood. You could either partner with one or two businesses with whom you have good relations, or accept receipts from any business in your commercial corridor.


Looking for more Small Business Saturday strategies? We’ve got you.

Head over to our new Small Business Saturday 2020 resource hub for guides, videos, and other goodies to help your business prepare for the holiday.

Loving these tips? Download the full guide to How to Prepare for Small Business Saturday.


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