On Nov. 14, 2010, Maria Baugh let out a loud scream.
“I was scanning Facebook headlines and noticed that [American Express] was promoting its first annual Small Business Saturday; I read about it and had a mini-heart attack—I thought it was the most brilliant idea,” says Baugh, co-founder of Butter Lane Cupcakes, located in New York City and Brooklyn, New York.
The idea behind the holiday: to attract customers to local small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving (last year, it was Nov. 27). As an added incentive, American Express was offering a $25 credit to customers who shopped at small businesses on that day. Baugh, who opened her bakery two years prior, was totally on board, but had very little time to prepare.
“We knew we wanted to capitalize on the holiday, so we created a deal where our customers would get $5 off a dozen cupcakes, which usually cost $30; with the $25 credit from AmEx, our customers were really getting the cupcakes for free,” she says.
On Nov. 15, Baugh sent out her first e-mail blast promoting the offer. Orders streamed in. Over the next week, she and her business partners sent out another offer—50 percent off baking classes. They publicized both offers on Facebook, Twitter and via e-mail to more than 10,000 customers.
How’d it go?
“It went awesomely; we saw a 50 percent sales increase on that one day; it was a major boost,” she says.
Baugh loved Small Business Saturday so much that she wished for more throughout the year. “We were hoping for a summer-time Small Business Saturday or a spring-time Small Business Saturday,” she says.
With a whole year to prepare for the 2011 holiday (Nov. 26), Braugh has huge hopes. “I’m expecting an 100 percent sales increase this year; we are staring to blast and post all about it,” she says.
Customers will again have the opportunity to get $5 off a dozen Butter Lane cupcakes, and Baugh says more promotions are coming down the pipeline—they just haven’t been announced yet.
Beyond the influx to her business, Baugh says she sees great value for businesses all around the country to participate in Small Business Saturday. “Small businesses are the best thing going on in this economy; it is really important to support your friends and neighbors,” she says.
What is her biggest piece of advice for SBOs?
She says, “Remind people to sign up—the $25 credits are limited—and figure out a promotion that you can afford and do it.”
SBOs: want to get involved in Small Business Saturday? If so, check out the
Consumers: This year you are in for a treat. Not only is AmEx giving away $25 in statement credit to cardholders that register (log on in early November), but FedEx is also giving away $25 gift cards. For the FedEx cards, make sure to log on to the company’s Facebook page beginning Nov. 1—there are only 30,000 cards available.