Small Business Saturday is fast approaching, and many businesses will be receiving the rush of holiday shoppers with open arms. Are you ready?

As a small business, you need to separate yourself from the pack on a day when all of your competitors will be offering deal after deal, trying to lure away your potential customers.

How can you beat out the competition, increase traffic to your retail shop, gallery or service center? By turning the day into a real event and marketing it as such. That means collecting registrations, for example. It’s a great way to bring in customers, engage them with your business, and keep them coming back for more after the holiday madness has ended.

Here are 10 quick and easy ways you can use an event in your small business to gain more rabid customers:

1. Set up an event homepage

Set up a Small Business Saturday event homepage with an incentive only available with registration. Make it a BIG deal and consider it your loss leader.

2. Collect email addresses

Don’t require customers to fill out too much information, but be sure to collect their email address. Social media info and phone number should be optional and can be used later.

3. Create an email invitation

Create an email invitation with information about your offer, and a link to your event homepage. Send it to your existing customers. Encourage them to forward it on to friends, and offer another incentive for people who do so.

4. Share your event on social media

Share your event on all of your social pages to attract those who may not be on your email list. Create a Twitter hashtag for your event, which will help create a community among your followers, and encourage people to use it in their posts.

5. Sign up for a text messaging service

If you ask for phone numbers during registration, sign up for a text messaging service like betwext. This will allow you to text message your registrants before, during, and after the event with more special offers.

6. Make your event distinctive

Make it different from every other day customers come in. For example, if you are a clothing boutique, hold a fashion show and hire local residents to model for a discount on products. Want to cater to kids and families? Offer face painting or other kid-friendly activities. Wine and cheese tastings are always a hit. Do something out of the ordinary that will set you apart.

Tip: Use American Express’ Shop Small Studio to create custom marketing materials for your Small Business Saturday event.

7. Make use of social media during the event.

Take photos and share them on Facebook and Instagram. Promote your social media pages. Ask questions on both those channels and give out prizes for the best answers. Do this a couple times during the day and allow people to come in and pick up their prize at any time. It gets customers to come back, on social media and offline.

8. Grow your contact list

Collect names and email addresses from everyone who comes into your place of business. Send email newsletters and future event invitations with other great offerings to these customers.

9. Get feedback

Send a post-event survey to all the people whose email addresses you collected. Consider also posting on Facebook or Twitter to reach those people whose email addresses you don’t have. Getting feedback on your event will tell you how the day went overall, from your customers’ point of view. Use this information to set up future events.

10. Stay in touch!

Don’t miss the opportunity to nurture these new and existing customers. You’ve won them over, now don’t lose momentum!

The term event is often thought of as a meeting, conference, concert, tradeshow, etc. But as a small business, an event can mean a new way to drive customer engagement. Collecting registration for events throughout the year allows you to easily track repeat attendance and shows you who your most rabid fans are. Dare to be different, and make Small Business Saturday a huge success!