Small_Business_Saturday_2015bToday is November 3, the first Tuesday of the month. So, believe it or not Thanksgiving is just 23 days away (just over 3 weeks), and Small Business Saturday a mere two days after that on November, 28th. American Express, the sponsor and founder of the day and the associated “shop small” initiative, has already kicked off event planning, promotion, and merchant registration. Is your small business ready to seize the day?

American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010, and has been sponsoring the event every year since. The second day of shopping hell week the giant Thanksgiving shopping spree, Small Business Saturday is designed to encourage consumers to support their local small businesses, and to help those small businesses promote themselves in their communities. In 2011 the US Senate officially recognized the day; and American Express reports that in 2012 73.9 million people shopped at small businesses during the event, in 2013 Small Business Saturday spending reached $14 billion, which was topped in 2014 with an estimated $14.3 billion in spending from over 88 million consumers.


The Big Change for Small Business Saturday 2015

Those are impressive growth statistics. But it remains to be seen whether Small Business Saturday will be as successful in 2015, because American Express has made a major change in the way it is promoting the event. In previous years, American Express cardholders could register their accounts to receive statement credits for making a purchase at a participating small business on Small Business Saturday. That promotion has been discontinued this year; and while American Express is devoting additional resources to promoting Small Business Saturday, and to providing advertising and marketing assistance to small businesses (particularly those who accept AMEX cards for payment), the loss of the statement credit may dampen enthusiasm for shopping small.


Making Small Business Saturday Work for Your Small Business

With the statement credit gone, it is now up to you as a small business owner to create compelling sales, discount offers, and in-store events that will entice new and existing customers to buy. (For help doing this, check out my post from last week: The Small Business Guide to Holiday Sales and Promotions)

Once you create your killer Small Business Saturday offer and/or event, be sure to take advantage of the many American Express Small Business Saturday resources to help you promote it. If you’re a bricks-and-mortar small business, or an online small business, now is the time to register to participate.

Any small business can participate, and take advantage of the following free programs and resources:

  • Printable Signage & Save-the-Date Cards
  • Email Templates & Sample Social Posts
  • Shop Small® Logos
  • Event Guides
  • Free Ads and listings on the website
  • Free inclusion in Small Business Saturday online promotions
  • Shop Small Kits of free promotional merchandise for those with storefronts (posters, buttons, balloons, tote bags)

The templates, signs, logos, and event guides are immediately available for download after registration. Your listings are typically approved by American Express in a few days, and the Shop Small Kits will arrive in 2-3 weeks.

If your small business accepts American Express, you can also be included on the Shop Small Map. (The online directory within the Shop Small Map lists qualifying small businesses that only accept online transactions or those that do not have a physical business location.) Additionally, American Express will promote your business, and your Small Business Saturday sales and events, on the Shop Small website as well as with online advertising programs running on popular sites across the Internet. The online marketing program will start on November 9 and continue through December 31, 2015. American Express will even provide you with reports about how much exposure and how many clicks your ads have received. (Those not accepting AMEX only get advertising through November, 28, 2015 and don’t get comprehensive reporting.)


Small Business Saturday Eligibility Requirements

Only small business located in the United States with fewer than 25 locations, and online businesses with a US service area, are eligible to participate. Franchises, non-profits, religious organizations, and some other business types are not eligible. Additionally, to qualify for the free online marketing program you must have your own merchant account and accept American Express (third party accounts with an aggregator are not eligible), and you must have $5 million or less in annual American Express charge volume in 2014. Read the full terms here.


Small Business Saturday 2015 Deadlines

If your small business is eligible to take advantage of free advertising, marketing, and promotional programs from American Express, then by all means do it!

Get started here, to login as an AMEX merchant or as a guest, to request your free marketing materials as well as inclusion in online marketing programs.

And, do it soon. Make sure you can take advantage of everything American Express is offering by getting in before the following deadlines:

  • Deadline to order the Shop Small Kit:
    11:59 P.M. ET on November 9, 2015 (or while supplies last, so don’t wait until the last minute).
  • Deadline to apply for a Shop Small Listing:
    11:59 A.M. ET on November 16, 2015
  • Deadline to apply for inclusion in the Shop Small Online Advertising Program:
    11:59 A.M. ET on November 16, 2015

If you need more information, or if you’re not sure if your small business qualifies, check out the comprehensive Small Business Saturday FAQ. For additional ideas and resources that can help you make Small Business Saturday 2015 a successful event for your small business, check out the Small Business Administration Small Business Saturday Guide.

Lisa Hephner

Lisa Hephner

My name is Lisa, and I'm the Vice President of Knowledge, responsible for the management of corporate, product, competitor, marketplace, legal, and regulatory knowledge, and creation and dissemination of knowledge tools using these assets to PaySimple prospects, customers, employees, and partners.

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