Small Business Saturday is the one time each year when the world's eyes are on small businesses - certainly in the UK and the US there are major initiatives backed by Government to encourage people to shop small and/or local.
Lots of focus is put on bricks and mortar businesses who are battling with big high-street retailers, especially around Black Friday, but Small Business Saturday is a chance for ANY small business to make your mark and tap into the buzz.
Here are 17 ideas to help you make the most of Small Business Saturday, no matter where you are in the world. Small Business Saturday is on 5th December 2015 in the UK and 28th November 2015 in the US.
1 - If you have a shop or other premises, download the posters and window stickers from the Small Business Saturday website (here's the UK ONE and here is the US ONE) for your country and put them up where customers can see them.
2 - Download the Small Business Saturday logo and banners and use them on your website to show you're taking part.
3 - Create special Small Business Saturday Facebook and Twitter headers using Canva.
4 - Tweet photos of your products, premises, staff and customers using the#SmallBizSatUK or #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtag in your tweets - especially if you have SBS themed pics.
5 - Follow the #SmallBizSatUK or #SmallBusinessSaturday hashtags on Twitter and see what other businesses are doing - see if you get inspired to do something that will work for your business.
6 - Retweet tweets with those hashtags to help other businesses spread the word and there's a good chance they will do the same for you.
7 - Have a special Small Business Saturday promotion or offer just for that day - mention in your email newsletters and social media posts that you'll be having a MEGA SBS day and build the buzz!
8 - Ask your customers what promotion they would love to see - maybe give them a choice of 3 or 4 on social media and ask them to vote for which mega deal they'd love to see.
9 - See what is going on in your local area that you can link with - some towns and cities host special SBS events, local newspapers will have special SBS features (be warned they are usually chargeable!) and there may be special Twitter hashtags you can use or town-specific Facebook pages you can use to join in with the local campaign.
10 - Host an event either alone or with other businesses. I've seen this done really successfully both on an industry theme (maternity, bridal) and in a local area (a street of shops) where everyone had posters and window stickers on their premises, website and social media. I've also seen shops create a 'trail' where customers had to visit each shop and take a selfie and the selfies with the most votes on Facebook won a prize, also one where customers got a stamp and full 'stamp cards' were entered into a prize draw to win a hamper from the shops involved.
11 - If you can't do an event, why not just have mince pies, or balloons, or bunting - something that will encourage people to come in and feel part of the celebrations. Invite your local brass band to play in the street or the local majorettes to do their thing - see who's up for a performance (just let your local council know if you're doing this in case they need to sort traffic or other issues).
12 - Record a video for social media from you and/or your team all about your Small Business Saturday plans - talk about why you're doing it and the difference it makes. Don't get hung up about how you look or sound - just talk from the heart and share why Small Business Saturday matters to you and have a laugh, too. Post it on Facebook, put it on your website, link to it from Twitter, tag your local paper and radio station when you post it on social media so they are aware.
13 - Make the most of trending topics on Facebook - any topic that is trending automatically gets much better reach than other posts so join in the trend!
14 - In the UK the Small Business Saturday team choose 100 businesses to represent all small business - those on the top 100 list get lots of mentions on social media and even get invited to Downing Street. You've got to be an early bird to get that one - the results are announced in August each year.
15 - Tell everyone you know that you're part of Small Business Saturday and ask them to support you - if you don't ask, you don't get and they are not mind readers.
16 - See if you can get some PR coverage - there's a good chance your local media will already be doing something and, let's face it, they are going to cover the most interesting/exciting/newsworthy events so make yours one or all of the above! You just need to drop them a tweet or an email letting them know your plans and see if they are interested - be brave!
17 - Be proud. Shout about your business. This is the ONE day of the year when the world makes it easy for you to be seen and heard as a small business so make the most of it!!
Remember, once you're in the marketing swing of things, don't let it rest there.
Just because Small Business Saturday is over doesn't mean you stop shouting - make the most of the buzz and energy you created and build on it.
Keep tweeting, posting and shouting. Keep in touch with the media you contacted and tell them about other interesting things you're up to, after all you know them now.
Keep up the momentum. Small Business Saturday is not just a day, it's a leg up and it's up to YOU not to waste it. What are you waiting for?