5 Super Simple and Free Marketing Ideas for Small Business Saturday

Learn from the experts and turn your small business into a marketing goldmine for Nov. 24.
Learn from the experts and turn your small business into a marketing goldmine for Nov. 24. (Photo: ESB Professional/Shutterstock)

What started in 2010 as the mom-and-pop shop’s answer to Black Friday has blossomed into a multi billion-dollar national event that draws consumers willing to renounce chains and big box stores in search of unique goods and a more personal shopping experience. Small Business Saturday, according to American Express, which created the holiday, is “aimed at encouraging customers to support their local communities and businesses on one dedicated day a year.”

And for you, the small business owner, it’s your day to shine. Lucky for you, there are a number of tools and resources at your disposal in the lead-up to this important day for your business. We’ve rounded them up for you and given you some pointers on how to use them, to ensure a successful and profitable Small Business Saturday.

Use free customizable materials.

This year NCR Small Business is giving away free window clings to businesses that are participating in our social media contest. Click here to find out how your customers can earn free cash by visiting your small business on Nov. 24.

American Express has free, customizable marketing materials you can download to help promote your business. These include social media cover and profile images, event planning checklists and invitation templates, and physical flyers to post on your business window. Check them out here.

Related: Shop Small for a Chance to Win with the NCR Small Business Saturday Sweepstakes 

Get your hashtags ready.

In 2017, 108 million consumers reported shopping or dining at a locally-owned business on Small Business Saturday, according to the Better Business Bureau. And it was due in part to social media hashtags that get people excited for the day, generated by both the small business owners and customers.

Deborah Sweeney

“You never know what kinds of milestones [customers] may be shopping for.” – Deborah Sweeney (Photo: Deborah Sweeney)

“Encourage customers to use the relevant hashtags across social platforms so that you can find photos and tweets about their experiences and like and share them,” advised Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation, which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses. “You never know what kinds of milestones they may be shopping for.”

Related: How Small Business Owners Can Keep Learning in 2018

Using hashtags like #ShopSmall, #BuyLocal and #smallbusinesssaturday, and even #NCRSilver, will get your business in front of new audiences, as well as alert your followers to the day and ensure them you’ll be ready.

Create a special event.

By hosting an invitation-only sale for your best customers (aka “super shoppers” or “VIPS” – wording is up to you), you have a chance to engage with them on a more personal level — something larger retailers can’t do. Exclusivity is key here, experts say.

“Market your event by sending exclusive passes to your existing preferred customer list via tailored emails, social media alerts or your loyalty program app.” -Krista Fabregas (Photo: Krista Fabregas)

“Market your event by sending exclusive passes to your existing preferred customer list via tailored emails, social media alerts or your loyalty program app,” suggested retail analyst Krista Fabregas of Fit Small Business. “You can even mail printed event-themed invites and exclusive passes if you have the budget.”

These invitations “can be as simple as an email to something tangible like a bracelet or token,” said RaShea Drake, analyst for Verizon. “Something more tangible than an email feels more personal and generates more exclusivity.”

Personalize invites and engage with your customers in the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday to remind them about your upcoming event and build anticipation, Drake said. “People are busy and forget, so gently keep your sales event at the top of their mind by releasing new deals incrementally, saving your biggest deals for the Thursday and Friday before.”

Related: How to Get Your Food Truck into Festivals and Local Events

Check out our infographic.

Did you know that on Small Business Saturday, 80% of customers are willing to pay more for an item at an independently-owned business? That in November 2016, there were more than 50,000 posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined using Small Business Saturday hashtags?

These are stats you need to have in your back pocket in order to have a successful Small Business Saturday. We’ve compiled those and other must-have facts and figures in a comprehensive infographic,  which you can find here.

Don’t forget to follow up.


Keep making your VIPs feel special by following up in between events. (Photo: Odua Images/Shutterstock)

Following up with customers after an event is where many businesses falter, but it’s an essential piece of the puzzle. Be sure to thank customers for shopping small and include another exclusive offer to get them back in your store. Even though the event is over, you should continue to make your VIPs feel special. Make sure they feel appreciated and not forgotten after they walk out the door.

If your sales event is a success, you may even decide to host more, which can help establish a sense of community around your brand. Your store will no longer just be a sales platform, but a familiar space for your best customers to engage with you and with one another.

Related: How Helping Customers Save Time Boosts Sales

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