Small Biz Saturday 2012Small Business Saturday is now in its third year. The date is November 24, 2012. This annual event is sponsored by American Express and encourages shoppers to support the local, independent businesses that create jobs, boost the economy, and preserve neighborhoods around the country. It takes place the day following the famous Black Friday when most large commercial enterprises participate to kick off holiday buying.

According to surveys, almost half of small business owners nationwide are doing some type of promotion for this event. Many companies are offering discounts, while others are giving away prizes, hosting contests, doing free gift wrapping or giving away a free gift with a purchase.

There are a lot of creative ways to be part of this event. For instance, you could offer a free product with each gift certificate (and have it wrapped, or at least tied with a pretty ribbon and bow). Perhaps you could offer a free adjunct service (one that doesn’t cost you much in time or money) with every gift certificate purchased. If you carry retail products, you could offer a discount on those items.

Remember, this is a one-day event. You want to drive a lot of people to your business—and since most of you don’t have a typical storefront, I suggest you have a way for people to place orders through your website or by simply emailing you their request. If you don’t have a shopping cart with your website, you can make arrangements to collect payment and get them their items afterwards. Be sure to label this promotion as a Small Business Saturday promotion and give a little bit of information about the event’s intent.

The American Express site provides lots of ideas for promoting your business and rallying your community. The site has a list of tips as well as free, downloadable online banners, signage, and social media and email templates. And it’s not too late!

Let me know what you’ve done in past years or plan to do this year.