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Back Talk: What Can We Learn From Small Business?

Many small businesses do things differently than big box retailers. Do marketers have something to learn from them? Chime in below in the comments section.

By all appearances, the holiday shopping season keeps getting bigger and better; by lunchtime on Cyber Monday, news of this year’s record sales numbers were circulating widely to the tune of “For the Love of Money.” But the Ghost of Christmas Future is singing another carol. It’s message: think small business. While the National Retail Federation was reporting a record $52.4 billion in spending over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend (that’s Thursday through Sunday), and Cyber Monday sales were up 15% over last year, the American Express-sponsored Small Business Saturday was celebrating its own tiny victories. This year’s event, which encourages consumers to shop local, saw the credit giant offering card members a $25 credit for any $25 spent at qualifying small businesses nationwide, and the event’s Facebook page boasted 2.6 million “likes,” more than double last year’s numbers. In the spirit of the season, leading software developer Intuit finally jumped on the e-commerce trend; yesterday, the company announced Intuit SimpleStore for Facebook, which allows small business owners to accept debit and credit payments via the social network, and perhaps more impressively, automatically syncs a merchant’s website with its Facebook page. In August, the company partnered with Verizon Wireless to sell its smartphone credit card reader GoPayment, another nod for small businesses.

Maybe I’m just blogging out loud, but it seems like Small is the new Big. With more ways for small businesses to engage consumers, marketers best take stock and adapt accordingly.

Which prompts the question: What can marketers learn from small businesses? Has a recent campaign or effort inspired your marketing mind?

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.
Photo credit: Emily Carlin

About JJ Nelson

Freelance blogger for Vertical Marketing Network; food writer; bartender.

4 comments on “Back Talk: What Can We Learn From Small Business?

  1. doug larson
    December 8, 2011

    The fact that American Express has the gal to sponsor “Small Business Saturday” is downright insulting. The largest shareholder in American Express is Warren Buffet, and the manipulation he orchestrated during the bank bailout era, where he converted a charge card company (not a credit card company) to a “bank” so he could reap $3B in bailout money should be criminal. Through his and Berkshire’s holdings he controls or is the largest shareholder in many familiar multi-national brands, and the fact that American Express holds itself up as promoting small business is a sham.
    The fate of our future economic development rests in the hands of consumers, who’s spending accounts for 70% of U.S. economic activity. Consumers cannot afford to continue to be duped by such charlatons.
    The path to a propsperous future lies squarely on the shoulders of each consumer. This is the manner by which every one can have a hand in change. Simply purchase products from companies that do not contribute funds to political campaigns and lobbyist organizations. These tend to be smaller regional/local companies. Smaller localized companies, while not having the capital advantages of the multi-nationals, usually market higher quality goods at somewhat higher prices. However the scale of economies lost in pricing is made up for in the fact that in many industries a small company employs 2-3 people for every 1 employee of a larger firm to achieve a similar dollar volume in revenue. And if most smaller firms are like ours, they mark to the market on wages and benefits (necessary to attract help).
    So I ask that you please refrain from patting American Express on the back for being so selfless in serving Small Business. No doubt there are other motivations for their promotion. Maybe so consumers use their card, which charges the business a higher rate than competing cards. Now how does that help the Small Business that accepted the American Express card.
    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to express my opinions.


    • JJ Nelson
      December 12, 2011

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Doug. I appreciate the points you mentioned, but especially your argument that the “path to a propsperous future lies squarely on the shoulders of each consumer.” This is the chief challenge to all marketers, this blog’s primary audience. Your comments contribute to the ongoing conversation we’re having about the future of our industry.


  2. Stephanie Bennis
    December 6, 2011

    “Supporting small businesses” is almost becoming the new “Go green” trend that is definitely picking up momentum. I’ve heard a lot of push for the shop small business effort in my own town where we have quite a few. it will be interesting to follow where this trend brings us!


    • JJ Nelson
      December 9, 2011

      I agree. Thanks for reading and commenting, Stephanie.


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