“Shop Small” on Small Business Saturday … the innovative program from American Express is back again

October 31, 2016

26 November 2016 is Small Business Saturday.

American Express launched Small Business Saturday 7 years ago – focused on the most important shopping holiday in the USA, the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. The idea was to encourage shoppers to patronise bricks and mortar businesses that are small and local.

At first glance, AmEx has little in common with small business owners – it is one of the world’s most ruthless and successful finance companies, and well known for it high merchant charges, which is why so many small shops, cafes and businesses don’t accept it. or at least they didn’t.

AmEx has instead established an incredibly strong relationship with small and local businesses, being their champion, maybe even saviour. How? Through “Small Business Saturday.” Since it was launched in 2010, the initiative has stimulated an annual average spending of over $5.5billion, received endless marketing awards, and has even managed to get the US President actively supporting its cause.

Small Business Saturday keeps growing. Here are 3 important marketing lessons we can learn from American Express

Connect people with each other

A Stanford University study shows that people perceive time to be of greater value than money. We view “how we spend our time to say so much more about who we are than how we spend our money.”

Part of Small Business Saturday’s success comes from creating an event that does more than give shoppers a good deal — it creates an experience participants want to share with others. Shoppers on Small Business Saturday say they leave feeling more connected with members of their community. The event gives shoppers an opportunity to invest in people and businesses they care about.

“It’s not just a shopping experience; it’s really more of a social experience.”

Look beyond the event itself

I love the African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It would have been quicker for American Express to have hosted a direct marketing campaign. It could have avoided the time demand of coordinating with businesses owners nationwide and still could have achieved a boost in holiday sales. But American Express chose to move slower and go further. By creating a day centered on other businesses’ involvement, American Express gave year-round legs to its one-day event.

Small Business Saturday helps this local business owner make an impact on her customers throughout the year, not just on Small Business Saturday. Small business owners are using the materials and strategies from Small Business Saturday to bring in more local shoppers year-round. Because of how greatly this event benefits business owners, American Express has genuine year-round ambassadors for Shop Small Saturday.

Build a movement.

American Express has created a national movement. It piggybacked off the national shopping holidays, invested in its customers, and gave local businesses the opportunity to make the day their own. What is your movement?

Here’s a the story of how it began, in 2010:

In 2016, Amex introduces the Shop Small Studio:
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What it means for one restaurant chain, The Infatuation:

And more small business owners get ready:

In the UK, Small Business Saturday is 3 December 2016.

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