Don’t Overlook Small Business Saturday

November 23, 2011

For the past couple of weeks The Official Merchant Services Blog has been preparing you for the Holiday Shopping Season. We’ve discussed a lot of different strategies and services that merchants can use to boost their businesses on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Much of what we’ve covered also applies to going forward through the entire shopping season.

Today we’re going to focus on a new “day” that’s been added to the rush and crush. Sandwiched in-between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a new kid on the block: Small Business Saturday. Since Host Merchant Services has many small businesses in its customer base, we wanted to take a moment to spotlight this newer day of shopping focus and frenzy.

The Basics

First of all, what is Small Business Saturday? It is a shopping holiday created by American Express, held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. It’s not that old. It was first celebrated on November 27, 2010. Small Business Saturday is designed to be a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday –– which feature big box retail and e-commerce stores respectively. Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are small and local.

How it Did Last Year

One of the key elements of the campaign last year was its social media push. Small Business Saturday has a Facebook page –– found here –– and last year AMEX bought advertising inventory on Facebook that it gave to its small merchant account holders for the purpose of promoting them and the event. The Social Media buzz generated 1.5 million likes on Facebook, as well as getting 13p public and private organizations and 41 politicians involved in supporting and publicizing the effort.

The bottom line? The event did indeed boost sales. According to AMEX executive Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, the event provoked “a 28 percent rise in sales volumes for our small business merchants versus the same day in 2009.”

What’s 2011 Bring To S-B Saturday?

The most basic perk to the Small Business Saturday campaign is that it gives money back to consumers for shopping at local small businesses. As defined by American Express at their Small Business Saturday Link Here: “You can receive a one-time $25 statement credit when you register any eligible American Express® Card and use that Card to make a purchase of $25 or more at a small business on November 26, 2011.”

Merchant Services logo for Small Business Saturday

There are multiple ways to obtain the savings:

  • Register your American Express Card here.
  • Sync your Foursquare account to your American Express Card here.

FedEx this year also gave away 40,000 $25 gift cards, which have all already been claimed.

Also, AMEX continues its robust social media marketing through the event, giving $100 in free Facebook advertising to 10,000 qualifying merchants.

Why You Should Get Involved

A survey by American Express  found 93% of consumers believe shopping at small businesses is important, and are backing that sentiment up by spending about a third of their discretionary income at local small businesses. This prompted AMEX to initiate the campaign in the first place. And if you are a small business merchant, AMEX is going the extra mile to get you involved in the perks and promotions of this holiday.

Merchant Services Small Business Saturday LogoEven if you are a late-comer to this event and have missed out on the free Facebook ads or the free gift cards from FedEx, there is still quite a lot of value to be had from participating in Small Business Saturday. The $25 credit program applies no matter what else you do. But there’s also these amazing resources still available:

  • From AMEX you can get free in-store signage, and a free online marketing kit.
  • You can use AMEX’s Go Social app to create mobile-based deals for your American Express card-wielding customers.
  • A joint venture from Google and YouTube offers up My Business Story which lets you create custom videos using YouTube’s editing tool to entice your customers.
  • YourBuzz –– a tool that allows users to read and respond to customer reviews and online mentions in one location –– is offering $200 in free advertising credits on LinkedIn Ads ($100 for 6,500 business owners) and Facebook ($100 for 10,000, which is all used up).
  • FedEx offers a 20% discount on printing for  Small Business Saturday-related promotional materials through Nov. 26.

Too Early To Tell?

So what do you think? Will Small Business Saturday catch on? Cyber Monday seems to be gaining some traction, fueled by the rapid growth in online shopping and e-commerce, and standing on the precipice of a predicted boom in mobile payment business. Black Friday is still going strong, with big chains like Toys”R”Us and BestBuy fueling it year in and year out. Is there room for Small Business Saturday? Are you a small business merchant and have you participated in this event last year? Will you be doing it this year? Feel free to share you thoughts and insights on this bold campaign from AMEX. I know I’m particularly interested in hearing about what kind of use you’ve gotten out of the social media marketing tools AMEX is providing with this.

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