Buying local is a huge initiative for entrepreneurs and business owners. Why should customers and consumers travel hours and hour away from their home when they can get everything they need at local shops and merchants. American Express, the founding partner of Small Business Saturday, and the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), a non-profit that helps communities launch and operate buy local campaigns, have joined forces to enable more small businesses and communities across the U.S. to successfully launch “buy local” campaigns in order to inspire people to “shop small” all year around.
What this means:
- AMIBA and American Express will host training events beginning in September through May 2013 to educate communities on how to develop successful “buy local” campaigns — any community can apply by contacting AMIBA;
- AMIBA and American Express will also offer “Train the Trainer” programs to expand the ranks of qualified facilitators to lead training events for hundreds of small business owners and advocates to spur more pro-local initiatives;
- AMIBA and American Express have developed a primer for small business owners and advocates to guide them on how to successfully nurture a culture of support for local businesses within their community;
- As a supporter of Small Business Saturday, AMIBA will distribute tools to help local retailers more effectively market themselves to encourage consumers to shop at small businesses on November 24, 2012.
CEO Blog Nation & Rescue A CEO had the opportunity to ask Jeff Michin, the co-founder of AMIBA a few questions:
AMIBA and American Express began a dialogue soon after the first Small Business Saturday in 2010 about how we could join forces to support the year-round efforts of community-based small business advocates. Since AMIBA supports the work of such local groups across the country coupled with American Express’ commitment to small business, the partnership was a natural fit. Our conversations eventually led to collaborating on two initiatives we both felt would give a big boost to independent businesses.
How will this partnership affect entrepreneurs and business owners?
We were thrilled with the level of response to Small Business Saturday last year (over 100 million consumers shopped at independently-owned small businesses) and heard great results from business owners who reported substantial sales increases (For example, Maria Baugh, co-owner of bakery Butter Lane more than doubled last year’s business and quadrupled what would be a normal Saturday for them).
American Express’ collaboration with AMIBA and their grassroots constituency of 25,000 or so independent businesses will help continue to expand the impact of Small Business Saturday, but we also wanted to find a way to help small businesses prosper year-round. We’ve observed the success of community alliances affiliated with AMIBA and national surveys have documented substantial sales increases reported by independent businesses involved in these local alliances. Our joint efforts will lead to many new community alliances that will help raise awareness of the value small businesses bring to communities and motivate consumers to ‘shop small’ all year around – including on Small Business Saturday.
Through this partnership, American Express and AMIBA produced a new publication, “Building Buy Local Campaigns that Shift Culture and Spending,” to give small business owners and advocates guidance on how to successfully nurture a culture of support for local business within their community. This 12-page magazine explains key distinctions between campaigns that fizzle and those that thrive and is available free from AMIBA on request (see below) while supplies last.
What will these training programs entail?
While the magazine shows people what can be done, there’s no substitute for the personal guidance these community events will provide. One day of hands-on assistance can help a local group bypass weeks or months of work and move more quickly to engaging their community.
These events also provide a great forum to draw in a broad cross-section of the community, inspire them with a compelling examples and success stories from around the country, and engage them in funding or building a local campaign. Hosting groups will emerge with a solid business and a thorough understanding of what messaging, images and activities will likely yield the biggest impact for their circumstances.
The track record for communities that host AMIBA trainings is outstanding, so we’re excited to help by sponsoring these events and make them accessible to communities that might otherwise be challenged to host them.