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In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help businesses with their most pressing need — getting more customers. The day encourages people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The single day has grown into a powerful movement, and more people are taking part than ever before. This year, the big day is Nov 28th.

It’s a day to Shop Small and celebrate the small businesses that make our local communities special. Cox Business and CoxBlue.com want to help small business owners make it one of their biggest sales day of the year, so we’re providing free tools, resources and more to help in the celebration.

How to Be Ready for Small Business Saturday

You’ve heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What about Small Business Saturday? This annual celebration, launched by American Express in 2010, encourages consumers to support local indie business—and it’s part of the biggest shopping weekend of the holiday season.

Don’t miss out on this important opportunity for your small business! Here’s how to make sure you’re ready to rock the sixth annual Small Business Saturday on November 26th.

Prep Your Staff and Premises

Do you have the manpower to handle the influx of traffic Small Business Saturday will bring through your door? Bulk up your staffing schedule for the day with seasonal employees, but schedule veteran team members too—they’re more prepared to answer customer questions and troubleshoot issues. Brief staff members on what to expect, how to handle common requests and problems, and any special offers. Emphasize the importance of great customer service even on what may be a hectic day.

Prep your inventory for the occasion: stock up on your biggest sellers and any sale items, get extra product out onto the sales floor, and organize your shelves and overstock areas.

Partner With Other Businesses

While a single store may see some success in attracting people to Small Business Saturday, the participation of multiple stores within the same area could be a slam dunk. Partnering with other businesses will allow you to expand your marketing reach leading up to the event, as well as increase your odds of additional customers the day of the event. For example, if a cafe partners with a clothing store, the store can give away coffee and treats from the cafe, and the cafe can give away coupons for the clothing store to give each location additional exposure. Cross promotion between businesses can be very successful and is a win-win for both the businesses and the customers.

Connect with Other Businesses

A single store participating in Small Business Saturday isn’t much of a draw. But multiple stores on the same street, or a whole shopping center hosting special events? Now you’re in business.

Partner with the store next door or several on your block to maximize everyone’s marketing reach in the coming weeks and increase foot traffic on the day of. Search the Small Business Saturday site to see how other businesses in your neighborhood are celebrating, then pitch some partnership ideas to those that are a good match.

Promote the Event

Small Business Saturday provides a compelling opportunity for local businesses to boost holiday sales, but in order to do this, customers need to know about the event. It’s imperative that you’re marketing the sales frequently in the weeks prior and are creating buzz around it. A few ideas to consider to help you spread the word include:

  • Posting the event on your website
  • Promoting it through social media channels
  • Placing the event on your local calendar of events and listings
  • Handing out printed materials
  • Talking about it (word of mouth is a valuable marketing tool)

If creating marketing materials isn’t your thing, don’t worry! American Express offers free, custom marketing materials that can help your business promote the event. Lastly, don’t forget to submit your listing to the Small Business Saturday event site for people looking for local participants on that platform.

Get Your Neighborhood Involved

Businesses don’t have to be the only parties promoting the event. This is a great day for the community as well, and something that all residents should get excited about. Turn residents into Neighborhood Champions for optimal exposure before the event.

Offer Special Deals

Small Business Saturday shoppers are already in the mood to splurge in support of local businesses. This is perfect time to introduce offerings they may not know about—especially if those offerings are discounted! Design a Small Business Saturday–specific promotion to capitalize on your increased traffic (and attract more).

Make It Memorable

Host performances, hold a scavenger hunt, offer tasty samples—make Small Business Saturday at your business a day to remember by making it an experience.

Get creative, but keep your experience appropriate to your business’s personality and the logistics of your space. (Remember that space will be more crowded than usual.) If you’re a spa or stylist, for example, you could offer free facials or quick shoulder massages. If you’re a bookstore, schedule a reading and signing with a local author.

Thank Customers for Their Support

Take the opportunity to thank your customers with a small gift, coupon, or other recognition of their support. You’ll be busy, but do make an effort to connect with your loyal customers in a meaningful way on this day that’s all about community.

The Small Business Saturday movement is gaining ground with small business owners and, more importantly, with supportive shoppers. With a little forethought and creativity, you can make it a memorable—and successful—day for your business.

Turn the Success of Small Business Saturday Into Future Successes

Don’t just look at Small Business Saturday as an annual success story. When the event is leveraged correctly by small businesses, they’ll continue to see the benefits throughout the year. If your business can leave a lasting impression on people during the event, they can turn those people into repeat customers, which can snowball into ongoing additional customers through word of mouth. Look at Small Business Saturday as a springboard for boosting business year round.

Small Business Saturday is quickly becoming a holiday tradition of its own. By planning ahead, making the event memorable, wowing your customers, and providing good times all around, your business will be sure to reap the benefits.