Your #ShopSmall marketing checklist for Small Business Saturday

Get ready for Small Business Saturday

So you’re gearing up for #ShopSmall festivities through Small Business Saturday® on November 26 and wondering how to leverage the buzz. And there will be buzz. But unless you live in a city with a hoppin’ downtown area and enthusiastic merchants association, just BEING a small biz won’t be enough to make the most of the Shop Small® Movement.

Luckily, putting some effort into a handful of super-simple marketing activities will help you get the most out of this nationwide event.

GoDaddy Small Business Saturday PromoHere’s a checklist to help you prep for Small Business Saturday:

#ShopSmall is about community

Regardless of your business niche, it’s important to stay connected (and engage with) your customers. And in this case, with any Small Business Saturday groups out there.

Follow the Small Business Saturday hub on Facebook and sign up for updates.

Yes, merchants have taken the Small Business Saturday concept and run with it, but it’s still an AmEx jam at heart. Signing up on the official Shop Small website gets you a listing in the nationwide index, access to tips and a Small Business Saturday event kit.

Small Business Saturday Website
Get free Small Business Saturday marketing materials from the new Shop Small Studio.

The Small Business Saturday Facebook page is loaded with inspiration, and as the 26th draws closer it will begin highlighting a few lucky shops. You can also reach out to Small Business Saturday organizers with your questions — they’re helpful and relatively quick to respond to Facebook comments.

Email your subscribers.

You’re emailing customers regularly already, right? Of course you are. In the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday, mention the date often and broadcast your enthusiasm for #ShopSmall — you want to share how this event represents you as an independent merchant. Consider including a discount code that subscribers can use on November 26 only.

Schedule a series of social media announcements.

Time to throw Hootsuite into overdrive! For two to three weeks leading up to November 26, build buzz through all of your active social media channels.

Don’t forget to use #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat when promoting your business.


Be sure to include imagery as often as possible since photos grab user attention more effectively than text alone.

Go old school with flyers or mailers.

If you can afford to go this route, it can be surprisingly effective. Use the materials provided in the official Small Business Saturday toolkit or put your own print collateral together to encourage customers to #ShopSmall by visiting your store on November 26. Again, consider offering a special discount or promotion.

Partner up to leverage your network

Even if you’re a solopreneur, there’s no need to go solo! Find your community to prep for Small Business Saturday.

#ShopSmall Partner
Photo: via / CC BY-SA

Collaborate with other nearby businesses.

Partnering with other #ShopSmall participants for events and promos helps you leverage your network and community. You can offer discounts to those who buy from multiple shops, create shop-hop activities, or just agree to promote each other in all of your individual marketing efforts.

Contact your local Chamber of Commerce.

Even if you’ve never done so before, now’s the time to connect with the C of C. Ask how they’re supporting Small Business Saturday, and find out if anything is planned in your area that you can join or support.

Make some noise

Celebrate #ShopSmall
Photo: Kim Bost via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Here are a few ways to amp up excitement for your business and the Shop Small Movement:

Hire entertainment.

No need to make Taylor Swift fly in for the day, but consider recruiting friends and colleagues to help create a party atmosphere. Make #ShopSmall a fun event with live music (even a singer with an acoustic guitar will do the trick), face painting for the kids, product demos, fortune telling, fashion shows — anything that will lend the day a festive air. (And if you go this route, be sure to mention everything you’re planning in lead-up communications!)

Offer snacks.

Again, you don’t have to bust out the caviar and Cristal, but affordable nibbles will make shoppers feel welcome. A bowl of candy, seasonal cookies or a store-bought cake will keep the sugar buzz flowing. Even better if you can offer up a fragrant, seasonal treat like spiced apple cider.

Get some balloons.

Seriously. Get some balloons for your entryway. If you’re on a busy street, anchor some clusters on a sandwich-board sign. Passerbys are weirdly and inevitably drawn to balloons. Trust me.

Start preppin’ today

With Small Business Saturday right around the corner, it’s time to get ready. Need more inspiration to jump on the #ShopSmall bandwagon? Check out this video:

Hope these tips have been helpful, and best of luck with all your #ShopSmall endeavors!

Also published on Medium.

Sally McGraw
Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer, editor, and blogger. She is the creator the popular daily blog Already Pretty, a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a Huffington Post contributor, and the author of several books about style and body image. Sally is also a ghostwriter and editor who specializes in non-fiction books and book proposals. She believes that writing is like solving a living, breathing, ever-changing puzzle, and finds the challenge exhilarating. Her favorite word is "crepuscular."