Small Business Saturday campaigns even big brands can aspire to.

We’re two weeks away from one of the largest shopping days for small businesses (and the peak commerce season for most verticals). Whether you’re a startup with a storefront or a mid- to large business, small business campaigns have demonstrated marketing practices you should be using to drum up local interest and connect with prospective buyers and partners. 

Small businesses are all about connecting with their local shoppers because most of the #SmallBizSat participants have direct access to their consumer base. Companies of all sizes should reflect on that and get back to the people behind their online personas.

First, for the unfamiliar, here’s a quick primer on Small Business Saturday (November 29):

  • Small Business Saturday Founded in 2010 by American Express
  • More than a third of small B2Cs have participated in Small Business Saturday in the past, and the majority plan to do so this year as well, according to a study from Constant Contact.
  • More than 40 percent of companies that planned ahead for this year’s SBS have already launched their marketing strategies to get prospects excited about the event.
  • Last year, it resulted in $5.7 billion with participating SMBs, up 3 percent from 2012 totals.

Small businesses across the country are using innovative and unique approaches to drive business on Nov. 29. Here’s a few examples of small business campaigns, and what big brands can learn from them:

Find like-minded, local industry peers and network together

Small business retailers who are nearby other businesses can get involved in Saturday afternoon festivities.

Communities like Scottsdale, Arizona and Eagle Rock, California are known for hosting large Small Business Saturday block parties that feature live music, art demonstrations, fun events for kids and of course, deals for shoppers.

You probably won’t co-host events with a direct competitor, but sponsoring networking events with like-minded companies and professionals is a great way to introduce your offerings to community prospects. It’s also an opportunity to find market gaps to fill with potential partners and build referral relationships.

Take it a step further: Collaborate on marketing campaigns

Some businesses in secluded areas are teaming up with other business owners in the community to create a “treasure map,” so customers can drive around to cash in on deals.

Elements_Gray_Misc_CheckIn the Mountain Communities in California, small business owners team up for an annual Treasure Hunt that lasts for two weeks, beginning on Small Business Saturday. Participants can go to each business to get a check mark, and everyone who completes the map within the time frame is eligible for a prize.

Elements_Gray_Misc_CheckSimilarly, this year in Commerce, Texas, shoppers will receive a “survival bag and treasure map” for Small Business Saturday. After they follow the map and locate coins in the businesses, they can use the coins at the town’s Chamber of Commerce to be entered in a raffle.

Co-marketing projects can take longer to execute because there are more moving parts, but in the end you benefit from borrowing expertise and getting exposure with each other’s audiences.

Provide not-your-average sales

Here are just a few unique examples of deals we’ve seen from past Small Business Saturdays:

  • In Farmington, MI if you spend $20 or more, you’re entered in to win a raffle.
  • In the Upper East Side in Manhattan, if you show a receipt from another participating small business, you receive 20 percent off your purchase.

Another promotional tool is to give back through your products. Last year in Kansas City, MO, local business Sock 101 gave a pair of socks to the homeless for every two pairs they sold throughout the holidays.

While bigger brands have larger revenues to experiment with sales, there are admittedly more decision makers involved in the sales approval process. That said, having a quirky sale is attention grabbing and builds brand loyalty – for example, everyone in Boston knew about chain retailer Jordans Furnitures’ Red Sox promotion – where customers’ furniture was free if the team won the World Series.

Bridge the online-offline gap

B2Bs say they're using social media marketing, but they're not always doing what they need to be effective.Simply put, when your customers are in store, promote online options to stay in touch. When your customers find you online, make sure it’s clear how they can connect with sales associates offline or in store.

This Small Business Saturday, entrepreneurs are stepping up their games to perfect social media skills and gain followers. Countless companies are uniting in using the hashtag #SmallBizSat and offering online promo codes for users to redeem in stores.

Channel attribution – particularly when it comes to the balance of online and offline promotion – is a top struggle for marketers, in business of all sizes and verticals. Whether you’re a B2C with a storefront or a B2B fielding call-ins, get inspired by small businesses this season and bridge that web-to-real-world gap.

Here’s a quick guide to phone tracking with Google Analytics that’s built success for some of our customers.

Make sure your local search listings are up to date

Pigeon local SEO algorithmAround 80 percent of people use search engines to find local product and service information – and what’s even more valuable for businesses on Small Business Saturday is that 18 percent of local searches lead to purchases within a day.

It’s important for all brands to make sure online presences are accurate by fact-checking your address and hours on Yelp, Google My Business and your social media networks. For search purposes, Google’s “Pigeon” algorithm has reportedly resulted in some big brands having lost 5-10 percent of organic traffic. Because there is an increased focus on location and a shift toward building Knowledge Graph results, having optimized local information will be beneficial to both big and small businesses.

Read more: Why it pays to be in local search listings.

Want to see more holiday marketing news and tips? Check out these resources:

Molly Buccini is Brafton's community manager. She joined the team with a background in digital journalism and social media. She's a theatre nerd, pop culture junkie and lover of summertime.