American Express Co. is planning its third annual Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize local small businesses. The first two years of the initiative were about awareness and motivating shoppers, said Mary Ann Fitzmaurice Reilly, senior VP-customer marketing and engagement at American Express OPEN, the division that oversees small-business initiatives. “This year is about putting Small Business Saturday in the hands of small businesses and making it their own,” Fitzmaurice Reilly said.
AmEx will be promoting the event through a national TV campaign, social media, and leveraging PR, local media and promotions via the OPEN Forum, the company's small-business website.
An updated digital tool kit will be available to help small-business owners' marketing efforts and to assist them in creating offers and deals on the day of the event. The discounts can be promoted across Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and the AmEx smartphone app.
Fitzmaurice Reilly said AmEx has upgrades planned for OPEN Forum, such as a move toward a “distributive model” that will make its content accessible via most social media sites. The digital tool kit will also be available in multiple places. “You don't want to force consumers and businesses to go places they don't want to go,” she said.
Helping small businesses obtain government contracts through its Victory in Procurement program is another OPEN initiative, as is providing relevant, visually captivating content to users. For instance, its second annual “State of Women-Owned Businesses Report,” based on a survey AmEx commissioned, was presented through an infographic campaign using lively charts rather than as a 70-page, copy-heavy report.
Of all the stories it's tweeted, the “State of Women” report “was the most clicked OPEN Forum story ever,” Fitzmaurice Reilly said, and boosted engagement with the data by 30%.