Kabbage from American Express CMO Brett Sussman on Supporting Small Businesses with TikTok

Interview with Brett Sussman of Kabbage from American Express about helping small businesses with a new TikTok collaboration, branding and marketing online, and the future of shopping on social media.

learn more about Shawn P. Walchef

By Shawn P. Walchef

Key Takeaways

  • Reaching Small Businesses with TikTok - Brett Sussman's team at Kabbage from American Express is dedicated to highlighting and amplifying Small Business Owners. The most recent way of doing so is by forging a unique partnership with TikTok that offers eligible small businesses incentives for advertising on the app.
  • Social Media as a Commerce Tool - More than half of Small Business Owners who are not currently on TikTok agree that they would be able to attract more new customers if their business had a presence on the app. Brett Sussman and his team are willing and able to provide data that solidifies the various benefits for Small Business Owners using the app.
  • Elevator (Campaign) Pitches - An effective campaign is a difficult task to accomplish. In today's multichannel environment, Brett Sussman and Kabbage believe finding the correct need for their partners is indispensable, but it has to be easily understood and explained.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Brett Sussman of Kabbage from American Express has embraced the new economy and is determined to help small business owners adapt to how people learn and buy.

Kabbage from American Express teamed up with TikTok in the holiday season to offer eligible small businesses a $100 ad credit to use on the app after they spend $50 on their first TikTok Ad campaign.

Data pulled from the American Express Small Business Holiday Report shows that 7 out of 10 business owners say that their customers rely on their social media channels for news. And almost 90 percent say it has helped them acquire customers this past year.

Social media is playing an increasingly important role in businesses, specifically small businesses.

"We're actually seeing, which is really exciting, that the whole experience of commerce is being accelerated on these platforms." says Sales and Marketing Executive Brett Sussman to Restaurant Influencers podcast host Shawn P. Walchef of CaliBBQ Media.

"You're going to do your search, ask recommendations, and buy maybe in one or two sessions versus over three weeks, going to different websites. And so that acceleration is really important for small business owners to be in that conversation."

Enter the Kabbage Shop Small Accelerator campaign powered by TikTok. The goal with the Accelerator initiative is to provide tips to small business owners to help the optimal usage out of the app. American Express also created the Small Business Saturday marketing initiative.

"So this collaboration with TikTok really is that we work closely with the set of creators to say, what are some of those tips and tricks if you want to get your small business owner on TikTok." explains Brett Sussman.

"There" being present on TikTok, which, despite its immense growth is still considered a non-traditional marketing strategy.

The novelty of TikTok and its perception as a tool for the younger generation has made marketing traditionalists hesitant and some small business owners reluctant to incorporate it into their business model.

Regardless of trepidation, over half of small business owners who are not currently on TikTok agree that they would be able to attract more new customers if their business had a presence on the app, according to the AMEX report.

"Right now, if you go to shop Small Accelerator, there are a series of tools from American Express on how to improve your community, your social media presence from some great creators who have done it well, small business owners and non-small business owners."

Along with its TikTok partnership, AMEX is also kicking off a new initiative this year, a Kabbage Funding offer, which includes a $250 incentive. This gives small businesses cash flow support to invest in their social and marketing.

The future of shopping is online.

"When you look at demographics, we see that both Gen Z and Millennials are spending an outsized amount of time on TikTok and really looking to make purchase decisions on TikTok. And so it's really for you to be there in a meaningful way.


NOMINATE A RESTAURANT INFLUENCER — Do you know someone who is killing it on social media? Let us know by emailing influencers@calibbq.media or sending the @calibbqmedia team a DM on social media.


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Shawn P. Walchef

Shawn P. Walchef is the founder of Cali BBQ Media, podcast host, business coach, and proud dad. Since opening Cali BBQ in 2008, he has grown his San Diego restaurant and media company into a global brand using digital tools and smartphone storytelling. 

As a restaurateur who opened during the Great Recession, Shawn learned to use the power of the Internet to stay in business. During the Pandemic, Cali BBQ developed a scalable growth plan that is three times more profitable than the traditional full-service restaurant model.
Email shawn@calibbq.media to get in touch.

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