AmEX Gets it Right with Small Business Saturday

30 Nov 2010|Lee Shupp

I would like to call out a great marketing campaign that hit over the Thanksgiving weekend. That’s the “Small Business Saturday” campaign by American Express OPEN, urging shoppers to remember small businesses on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. Why did I this it was a good example of smart marketing?

I liked the campaign for several reasons:

American Express acted as a voice for the small business community, a community that normally has no voice, and is a key customer base of AmEx OPEN. American Express looks good speaking up for the little guys, and it’s ultimate good for AmEx OPEN business.

The campaign was timed for the biggest shopping weekend of the year, sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Big box stores dominate Black Friday, with large advertising budgets and the ability to do heavy volume disounting. Virtual big box stores like Amazon dominate Cyber Monday. Both days are competitive, bargain hunting days in the minds of consumers. Small Business Saturday offers a contrast, a reminder to go out and support the little guys who give our local neighborhoods character. Very smart to give the little guys a day of their own, outside of the brutal competition of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The campaign was on trend, as many consumers are starting to focus more on supporting small, neighborhood businesses that are the opposite of big national chains. Here in San Francisco we have seen growing opposition to chain stores coming into neighborhoods, with stores like Home Depot facing strong opposition. Alice Waters in Berkeley was one of the people who focused on buying fresh, locally grown food for her restaurant, and the trend has spread from food to fashion and other categories. Consumers are beginning to consider which purchases should go to big box stores, where the deals are, and which purchases should go to local small businesses, where the character is.

The campaign was clever. It was original and creative, showed smart strategy and focused execution. It fit so well in the weekend that one wonders why we haven’t always had Small Business Saturday. I’ll bet we’ll see more of them. Kudos to American Express for a job well done. For more on the campaign in SF, see SF Gate.

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