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Social media event promoting small business is Wednesday

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By GRETCHEN O’DONNELL, Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Small-business owners across southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa have a unique opportunity coming their way from 8 to 10 a.m. Wednesday on the Worthington campus of Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

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Sponsored by the Social Media Breakfast Rural Connection Club — through funds received through the Blandin Foundation — Jeffrey Ferrazzo of Constant Contact will be presenting a free, two-hour program for anyone interested on the topic of Small Business Saturday.

Celebrated annually on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday is a national campaign founded four years ago by American Express as a way to promote shopping locally for the holiday season. It acts as a counterpoint to both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and encourages customers to shop at local small businesses as opposed to big box retail and e-commerce stores.

Participating in this event gives small business owners an opportunity to take advantage of a much larger marketing campaign — and all for free.

“Small Business Saturday is a way to make sure that local businesses don’t suffer after Black Friday,” said Lori Henning, co-Owner of 2SmartWomen in Lakefield. “It is a national campaign that local businesses can participate in. This presentation on Wednesday will teach us how to take advantage of Constant Contact’s expertise in this area.”

Ferrazzo, who works as regional development director for the Upper Midwest with Constant Contact, explained the American Express connection.

“American Express does not own the ‘Shop Small Saturday’ concept — it is public domain,” Ferrazzo said. “What they did is say, ‘Let’s support small businesses’ by beginning a national advertisement campaign that small businesses can take advantage of.

“This means that a small, local business can put a ‘Shop Small’ sign in their store and a customer sees it, then goes back to their car or their home and hears an ad on the radio or TV about shopping small,” he continued. “Suddenly the small business they were just in seems much larger, because they’re a part of this much bigger effort.”

Ferrazzo has a passion for small businesses, as he is a former owner of one and understands the pressure faced by small business owners to make ends meet, he said. As part of the National Speakers Association, he has given 450 presentations to more than 14,000 people over the past four years. 

“These are truly educational seminars,” Ferrazzo said. “The beauty of it is that we are teaching people to fish. They will be set for the future, not just for Shop Small Saturday. 

“We’ll give them a 17-page document which will be emailed after the event on Wednesday,” he explained. “It contains a four- to five-week marketing campaign — our ‘Small Business Success Tool Kit’ — with a step-by-step plan to set up goals, and to use email and social media for their business.”

Amanda Walljasper-Tate, owner of Schafer’s Health and Gifts in downtown Worthington, is excited for Wednesday’s event. 

“I am a huge promoter of shopping local — keeping our money in the community,” Walljasper-Tate said. “Small Business Saturday is such a fabulous opportunity for us. It is a really cool thing, and it is easy to be a part of it.”

Walljasper-Tate added that it’s not just small stores that should be taking advantage of this opportunity on Wednesday. 

“In order for our entire community to continue to grow, we have to use social media outlets,” she said. “Social media will pull younger shoppers in and help us thrive — and not just businesses, but churches, the Chamber of Commerce, any local organization. Small Business Saturday brings a lot of awareness to this issue.”

Henning agrees. 

“This is exciting for the local economy,” Henning said. “The point of the whole presentation is to show local businesses how to capitalize on the nation-wide advertising campaign that American Express does. 

“It doesn’t cost anything to be a part of this,” Ferrazzo reiterated. “We want small business owners to succeed. We need them to pull together and encourage each other to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Pre-registration for Wednesday’s event is required. Contact Julie Foote at jfoote@mvtvwireless.com or Henning at lori@2smartwomen.com. One attendee will win a copy of either Microsoft Office 2013 or Windows 8.

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