As the holiday season draws nearer, major retailers will spend vast sums of money to inundate consumers with messages promising sales, specials and can’t-miss deals. Often lost among the cacophony are the small businesses that rely on all-important fourth quarter sales. For many, the holiday season represents a make-or-break scenario. And with Thanksgiving falling so late in the month, there will be five fewer shopping days with which to stuff the stockings. To that end, American Express is again undertaking its Small Business Saturday initiative. In its fourth year, the social media-driven promotion, which falls on November 30, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, will encourage consumers to spend more at independent retailers and restaurateurs. “The name of the game this year is engagement and we’re really galvanizing communities to take control of the day,” says Michelle Thompson-Dolberry, a spokesperson for American Express OPEN and Small Business Saturday. “Previously we did a lot around educating consumers about why we think it’s important to get off their couch that Saturday and shop in their local neighborhoods. This year we’re helping the communities to really be empowered to create their own events, their own experience, their own way of encouraging people to come out and shop.” According to Thompson-Dolberry, consumers spent more than $5.5 billion at independent merchants during last year’s Small Business Saturday. “The message for consumers is the small business owner is your friend – someone you go to church with, or serves on the PTA with you. Go and support that small business so that the business stays in your community,” she says. Other organizations are participating in the program by providing resources and services to small businesses: FedEx is offering two free 11” x 17” printed posters that small business owners can create as part of their customized marketing campaign on ShopSmall.com. In addition, FedEx will offer special discounts and deals to small businesses that access the printable signage materials included in the marketing toolkit. Foursquare and American Express are offering small businesses $250,000 in free credits to use on the recently launched Foursquare Ads for Small Business platform. The credits will enable businesses to create local campaigns that effectively drive new customers into their stores based on where they are, or what they are searching for. Foursquare will also highlight small businesses in their app to help drive foot traffic to local merchants on Small Business Saturday. Twitter is offering $1 million in free advertising to small business owners, who have not advertised with Twitter previously, to help drive customer engagement and increase sales on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season. Business owners can also get ready for the big day with an educational toolkit containing helpful tips on gaining more followers and launching exclusive promotions. The United States Postal Service is providing shipping of all merchandise orders placed on ShopSmall.com as well as Neighborhood Champion Activation Kits. USPS will also distribute a consumer mailer and place signage at 1,500 post offices.
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Will Consumers Buy Local this Holiday Season?