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The Black Friday phenomenon, already a retail staple of the U.S. holiday calendar, is increasing in global popularity. However, the event is almost entirely to the benefit of large retailers who can afford to offer significant sales.

In response, American Express initiated Small Business Saturday in 2010, an event taking place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving which is designed to turn the focus on small, brick-and-mortar stores.

Amex encouraged shoppers to patronize local independent businesses through a TV and radio campaign in the U.S., offering further financial incentives to those who made purchases with Amex cards.

Correspondingly, the company also purchased advertising space on Facebook, which it offered to its own small business accounts at no extra charge.

small-business-saturday

Photo: One Mile At A Time

The campaign had a three-part strategy, namely:

  1. Providing the necessary tools for small businesses to participate.
  2. Encouraging consumers to support the project.
  3. Having an ‘official day’ recognized.

The program garnered immediate political support across the U.S., and in 2011, the Senate voted unanimously to officially declare Small Business Saturday as an official event.

In its second year, more than 5,000 small businesses took part in the event, and more than 103 million consumers shopped at local, independent stores on the day.

The campaign’s popularity has seen it exported abroad, arriving in the UK in 2013, which Amex similarly supports.

Much like Black Friday and Cyber Monday (where online retail is encouraged), the event has entered the national consciousness, not least due to the Senate vote.

Moreover, with small businesses comprising the backbone of the economy, the event has a natural customer base who participate each year.

In 2015, small business spending increased by 14% on the previous year, further demonstrating the campaign’s repeated success over time.

Holiday Marketing Takeaway

Establish a dedicated day or event devoted to a cause that people within — and beyond — your customer base can associate with your business.

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Table of Contents

Intro150 Years of the Best Holiday Campaigns
Chapter 1 The Genesis of Holiday Window Displays
Chapter 2 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brings Spectacle to the Season
Chapter 3 How Coca-Cola Invented The Father of Christmas (Or did they?)
Chapter 4 Budweiser Celebrates the End to Prohibition
Chapter 5 Montgomery Ward Employee Invents Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Chapter 6 Campbell’s Soup Speaks to the ’50s Housewife
Chapter 7 Mr. Potato Head Becomes First Toy Ever Televised
Chapter 8 NORAD Tracks Santa’s Journey Around the World
Chapter 9 Norelco Popularizes Stop-Motion Animation
Chapter 10 Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas? Why You’ll Eat KFC in Japan
Chapter 11 Folgers Advertises the Intangible
Chapter 12 Hershey’s Holiday Bells Defy an Ad Agency
Chapter 13 Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears Humanize Global Warming
Chapter 14 Coca-Cola’s Christmas Fleet Brings Truckloads of Cheer
Chapter 15 M&M’s Stumble Upon Santa –– No One is Left Standing
Chapter 16 Starbucks Red Cups Spark Consumer Salivating (and Controversy)
Chapter 17 Target Keeps it Simple with Their Black Friday Catalog Focusing on Price
Chapter 18 Pampers Silent Night Raises $40 Million for Charity
Chapter 19 Give a Garmin Hits on Travel, Humor and Holiday Stress
Chapter 20 John Lewis Focuses on Storytelling Over Brand
Chapter 21 Macy’s Believe Campaign Raises $10 Million, Involves Schools
Chapter 22 American Express Small Business Saturday Supports Local
Chapter 23 Apple Misunderstood Campaign Makes Technology and Family a Priority
Chapter 24 REI’s #OptOutside Campaign Bucks Tradition