By now you may have heard about Small Business Saturday, an American Express social-media marketing campaign that launched last week. OK, Amex calls it a "movement."
The company is offering $100 in Facebook advertising free to the first 10,000 small businesses when they sign on to the campaign. Any small business with $10 million or less in annual revenue can participate. Amex card holders can get a $25 statement credit when they use Amex to shop at participating companies on the Saturday following "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional holiday-shopping season kickoff. It's off to a roaring start, amassing more than 271,000 fans.
Who wouldn't want to support the little guy?
It's not just a marketing campaign, it's a cause.
Mobilizing customers around a social purpose was a hot topic at the recent New York Entrepreneurship Week conference.
"Make the cause the engine of your brand," keynoter Jeremy Heinmans, chief executive of Purpose, a cause-marketing company, told an audience at the meeting.
Companies that are doing cause marketing well include:
- Recycle Bank -- a program that rewards people for recycling and other environmentally friendly actions
- Vestas Wind Systems -- a wind-turbine company whose slogan is: "It means the world to us."
- 1BOG -- a company offering group discounts for solar panels whose name is an acronym for "One Block Off the Grid"
- Patagonia -- an outdoor clothing-and-gear company and an early pioneer of environmentally friendly policies
- Tom's Shoes -- a shoe company that gives a pair of shoes to someone in Africa for each shoe purchase
Your company doesn't serve a larger purpose? Adopt one, says Heinmans. Dove soap, the brand from the conglomerate Unilever, is one example of successfully adopting a cause with its "campaign for real beauty."
Another is Amex, whose Small Business Saturday builds on its OPEN Forum community and advice site for its small-business customers.
Recognizing the strategy, and finding a way to make it work for you, might be the campaign's biggest benefit to your company. And it may help you win over a few extra loyal customers Nov. 27.
Related: Three Tips for Cause Marketing