Fall 2011
Scoring Sales with Small Business Saturday

During the holiday shopping season, you need every tool in your arsenal to boost your 
bottom line. Here’s one designed to drive customers to your cart or kiosk the Saturday 
after Black Friday.

Buying local makes a big difference for communities—a fact you and your customers likely understand well. Indeed, an estimated 27.5 million small businesses operated in the United States in 2009 and they created 65 percent of net new jobs, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

It’s one of the reasons why American Express created and launched a national initiative known as Small Business Saturday that celebrates small business owners like you, as well as pushes for continued demand for your products and services.

“We created this day to support and celebrate the independent small businesses that boost our local economies,” says Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior vice president at American Express OPEN, which is behind Small Business Saturday. “Small business owners were hit hard by the recession but they are resilient and determined to succeed.”

Small Business Saturday, which launched a year ago, takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Its purpose: encouraging shoppers to spend their dollars with local merchants across the United States.

“Small Business Saturday is much larger than American Express,” Fitzmaurice Reilly says. “In 2010, 130 small business advocate groups, public and private organizations and 41 elected officials, including Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, joined American Express in declaring November 27, 2010 as Small Business Saturday.”

Last fall’s inaugural Small Business Saturday was a success, Fitzmaurice Reilly says. She cited the initiative’s Facebook page growing to include 1.5 million “likes” and some 30,000 tweets sent out over the last year using the hashtags #smallbusinesssaturday and #smallbizsaturday.

“Small Business Saturday moved the needle for small businesses and small retailers that accept American Express Cards, including those that sell apparel, bikes, books, electronics and flowers; [they] saw an estimated 27 percent increase in sales on American Express Cards [last] year compared to the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2009,” she says.
How to make SBS work for you

Connecting with your customers—through blogs, Facebook and Twitter as well as in person through in-store special events—will help generate sales year-round, not only on Small Business Saturday, Fitzmaurice Reilly adds. Here’s how American Express suggests you make the most of this year’s Small Business Saturday, slated for Nov. 26:

  • Take advantage of the free Facebook advertising offer, which will help get the word out about your business to your local communities. You can also download a printable point-of-purchase and store-front marketing materials.
  • Promote a special or deal for your shoppers on Small Business Saturday. For example, last year a retailer offered 27 percent off of all purchases since Small Business Saturday was on November 27.
  • Remind consumers that they will receive a $25 statement credit if they use their American Express card on Small Business Saturday.

The American Express OPEN Small Business Saturday Consumer Pulse, an online survey of 1,000 consumers ages 18 and older, reveals the impact small businesses have on local communities and examines consumer spending trends. According to the study:

  • 93 percent believe it’s important to support the local small businesses that they value in their community
  • 87 percent believe that small businesses are also a critical element of the overall U.S. economic health
  • 89 percent agree that locally-owned, independent businesses contribute positively through taxes and jobs
  • 73 percent consciously shop at small businesses in their community because they do not want them to go away

Heather Johnson Durocher

Heather Johnson Durocher is a northern Michigan-based journalist who writes frequently about business for newspapers and magazines. She has contributed to USA Weekend, Woman's Day, Parents and American Baby. For more information, visit www.heatherdurocher.com
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