Countdown to Small Business Saturday: Time to Start Preparing

Each year, SmallBizTechnology does its best to help you prepare for one of the biggest small business events of the year: Small Business Saturday. Sponsored by American Express, Small Business Saturday is held each year on the Saturday that falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year that Saturday is November 24th. While it may seem like you have plenty of time left, it’s important to start preparing your website for the big day.

Each year, American Express seeks to help small businesses by encouraging patronage of small businesses. Customers who register their American Express cards to shop at small businesses on November 24 will be given a $25 credit for each registered cardholder. Customers need only register their cards ahead of time to qualify for the refund.

“I think slowly the message is starting to seep in that it’s vital to shop at small businesses,” Josie Leavitt, Publishers Weekly blogger, wrote after last year’s success. Leavitt is a bookseller in Vermont. “It was heartening to see so many new faces. People actually thought about what small businesses to go to and were happy to let us know they’d chosen us.”

Here are some dates to use as a checklist as you prepare for the biggest shopping weekend of the year.

Today

  • ‘Like’ the official Small Business Saturday Facebook page. This will not only sign you up for ongoing updates and reminders about Small Business Saturday, it will also provide information about participating in special contests hosted for small businesses.
  • Sign up for ShopSmall to receive ongoing communications about Small Business Saturday, including advice on how your small business can participate.
  • Evaluate your small business’s online presence, taking into account local customers who might be searching for you for the first time through sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. Make sure it’s easy for those customers to find¬† you.

October

  • Utilize the many ad tools available in the Small Business Saturday Toolkit. These include signs and tutorials on small business marketing activities like creating a Facebook presence and uploading a YouTube video.
  • Work with your web designer to make sure your website is ready for the influx of traffic. Decide which specials you’d like to offer and create banners and signage. The toolkit can help with this.
  • Promote the $25 American Express credit and let customers know you are participating in Small Business Saturday. You’ll be amazed how many customers hold American Express cards and will be willing to shop if they know they’re getting a $25 credit.
  • Create a way to capture customer information to a database. As you receive a larger-than-usual influx of customers on Small Business Saturday, take advantage of the opportunity to get information on those customers that you can use for future mailings.

November

  • Finalize website testing and optimization.
  • Hang Small Business Saturday signage prominently in your store’s window and/or near the cash register.
  • Promote your Small Business Saturday special offers on your company’s social media sites.
  • Don’t forget your current customers. Contact them to let them know about the special offers you’ll have for Small Business Saturday.

When it comes to promotion, it’s never too early to start preparing. Thanksgiving weekend will be here before we know it and with so much competition for attention, small businesses are more challenged than ever to make an impact on Small Business Saturday.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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