In truth, there just aren’t that many truly inspiring marketing as service programs out there right now despite all of my drum beating. Which is one of the reasons I’m absolutely fixated on Small Business Saturday, a program that unites the nation to focus on “shopping small” for at least one big day. Conceived in 2010 by American Express and their super savvy Open group, the program quickly gathered support from other big companies like FedEx. That is just one of the reason’s I was delighted to run into Denise Yunkun, FedEx’s Director of Alliance Marketing at the recent CMO Club Innovation Summit in San Francisco. Denise was able to provide some really interesting insights into why FedEx is involved with Small Business Saturday and the nature of their commitment. Our Q+A follows. (By the way, Small Business Saturday will be on November 24th this year nestled nicely between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.)
Drew: FedEx has been part of Small Business Saturday from the get go. Why?
Supporting small businesses is, very simply, good business. Small businesses are incredibly important customers for FedEx and they also are the driving force behind a successful and thriving economy. Small Business Saturday reinforces the importance of independent retailers in building and sustaining vibrant communities everywhere. The $1 million commitment we’ve made to this effort is intended to go directly back to small businesses.
The importance of small businesses is undeniable. They employ half of all private sector workers – about 60 million Americans, they have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years, they account for more than 97 percent of all U.S. exporters and more. Their success is our success.
Drew: What were the lessons learned from year 1 and 2 (in light of the fact that you really increased your commitment in year 3)?
Aligning to support Small Business Saturday makes good business sense for FedEx as small businesses are such important customers. Distributing gift cards directly to consumers was a very effective way to engage them and drive them to spend at small business so we are doing it again this year. Also, it’s an excellent opportunity for us to utilize the more than 1,800 locations in our FedEx Office network for small businesses. We are providing a variety of free and discounted marketing materials such as posters that can be printed at no cost at FedEx Office Print & Ship locations. Also, these customers will receive additional discounts when they come in to pick up their posters.
Overall, Small Business Saturday has a strong response last year. More than 2.7 million Facebook users, 230 public and private organizations, 75 corporations and elected officials in all 50 states and Washington D.C. declared their support for SBS last year. More than 500,000 small business owners leveraged an online tool or promotional materials for SBS and 15,000 businesses signed up for free Facebook advertising to promote their products and services in the run up to SBS.
Drew: Last year, FedEx offered 40,000 $25 gift cards in support of SBS making it a $1.0mm commitment. How do you measure the success of such a large promotional giveaway?
While we measure this in several ways, it’s important to note that above all, this is an effort to show our support and appreciation for SMB’s with no strings attached. We do measure engagement and dialogue in social media channels, media coverage etc.
Drew: Will you be running that same offer in 2012 and/or doing something new? Please provide an overview of your 2012 program (I can hold this until you’ve announced itpublicly)
FedEx will distribute 40,000 Shop-Small-branded $25 American Express Gift Cards to consumers, for free, via the FedEx Facebook page. The give-away ended on Nov. 3 and the winners will be chosen at random from the pool of entrants. FedEx will also provide all registrants with a coupon to Save $10 on a $20.00 FedEx Express shipment, valid through December 31, 2012. Terms and Conditions will be included on the coupon.
FedEx Office® is also continuing its work to help small businesses draw in customers on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season with access to a variety of free and discounted marketing materials. In addition to the Gift Card giveaway, FedEx Office will support Small Business Saturday by helping independent retailers and other small businesses grab attention on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season. Small business owners can visit Facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday or shopsmall.com/fedexoffice to access Small Business Saturday posters that can be printed for free at local FedEx Office Print & Ship Center locations. Additionally, small businesses who take advantage of this free poster offer will also receive additional discount printing offers when they come in to pick up their posters.
Drew: Marketing partnerships can be kind of tricky. Why do you think this particular one works so well?
FedEx has worked closely with American Express for over 10 years. With our mutual focus on the success of small businesses, our relationship really is a natural fit.
Drew: How does FedEx make sure your connection to SBS doesn’t get lost in all the noise created by other SBS partners?
Our commitment to Small Business Saturday is substantial. It’s also a natural extension of what we do for small businesses every day.
Just as one example, FedEx recently launched its first-ever, nationwide small business grant competition which will award a total of $50,000 to six deserving U.S. small businesses. The top winner will receive a $25,000 grant and the remaining five winners will receive grants of $5,000 each. The top six small businesses – including the grand prize winner – will be announced in January. We also create and participate in programs that give small businesses a head start, access to new opportunities and education to handle the challenges of shipping their goods.
Drew: Do you have any words of wisdom for other companies that are considering marketing partnerships?
While there are several factors, it’s important to ensure that your interests/goals are mutually aligned and the brands and value propositions are complimentary.