Small Business Saturday Gets a Community Twist

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 02 Nov, 2013

The holidays are drawing near as we make our way through November. And while most retailers are preparing their business and marketing initiatives for days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is important not to forget the Saturday in between, which American Express has dubbed, "Small Business Saturday".


The financial services provider started the small business campaign four years ago in order to create exposure for small businesses across the country. The campaign asks consumers to support their local small business on the day after Black Friday, which falls on November 30th this year. According to the American Express Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, consumers spent $5.5 billion at independently-owned businesses on last year's Small Business Saturday.


That said, the survey reveals that 81 percent of small business owners say that the campaign is most effective when communities band together to host events. Because of this, American Express created a Neighborhood Champions program to organize community events throughout the country on Small Business Saturday this year. More than 1,000 Neighborhood Champions have already signed up to rally businesses in their areas to participate in local activities for the campaign. These community events include a holiday open house and parade in Golden, CO; a treasure hunt through local businesses in Frazier Park, Ca; and a holiday festival in Corning, NY. During these events shoppers will be able to pick up "Shop Small" bags and fill them with gifts purchased from local small businesses.


Neighborhood Champions joined the program by submitting a description of their plans to organize events or activities along with a list of at least 10 local businesses they plan to rally. After registering they were provided with an activation kit, which includes giveaways, welcome mats, balloons and banners. People who qualify can sign up to be a Neighborhood Champion by November 4th. Conversely, small businesses can sign up to join a neighborhood circle on American Express's Small Business Saturday website.


"Last year, thousands of small businesses from around all over the country took ownership of Small Business Saturday and consumers responded," said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior vice president at American Express OPEN. "Based on our research, we believe the day can be even more successful when businesses band together to make Small Business Saturday a true celebration for the neighborhoods they support."


It is also important to note that small businesses that accept American Express cards can visit the Merchant Shop Small Page to create personalized marketing materials to promote the Small Business Saturday campaign both in-stores and online. These resources include free store signage, free online ads (up to 11/4/2013 and while supplies last), as well as email templates, logos and social assets.