Enter American Express OPEN and Facebook(R) Small Business Contest

American Express Open FacebookAmerican Express OPEN announced the launch of the second-annual “Big Break for Small Business,” a national contest designed to transform the way small businesses connect and engage with customers online. This year, American Express OPEN is giving every small business that enters educational and brand-building tools, as well as $50 in Facebook advertising credits. American Express Cardmembers and merchants who enter will receive $100 in Facebook advertising credits.

The five winning small businesses will receive house calls from American Express OPEN and Facebook branding experts, who will provide in-depth marketing and strategy sessions as well as $25,000 in cash to put the strategies into action. The winners will learn how to use Facebook to build their brands and better market their products and services to their existing customer base and reach new customer segments. Each winner will get practical and personal training on best practices using Facebook Pages, Ads and Social Plugins, and will receive consultation on their current use of Facebook.

Next, the winning small businesses will have the opportunity to pay it forward by inviting other small business owners within their community to meet a panel of social media and marketing experts from Facebook and American Express OPEN to teach them how to use social channels for their businesses.

In an effort to encourage participation and award those who enter, Facebook will give the ten runners-up $2,500 in advertising credits to help them target and acquire new customers.

“We’ve seen more and more businesses use Facebook to connect with their customers, jumpstart conversations about their products and services, and foster long-term loyalty and sales,” said Grady Burnett, Facebook’s VP of Global Marketing Solutions. “It’s being on Facebook and developing their company’s brand online and off that work for small businesses across America, and that’s why we’re so excited to partner again with American Express on the Big Break contest.”

To enter the “Big Break for Small Business,” business owners should visit http://www.facebook.com/OPEN and submit answers to a short questionnaire describing how they would use the competition’s winnings to grow their business. During the first round of judging, 10 small business finalists will be selected by a panel of judges, including representatives from American Express OPEN and Facebook, Andy Dunn, CEO/Founder of Bonobos, and small business expert, Melinda Emerson.

Finalists will be judged on:

  • Commitment to their business and growth;
  • Commitment to the community that fuels their business;
  • Overall social media and business need where American Express OPEN and Facebook could improve their business;
  • Energy and enthusiasm for the entrepreneurial community.

Finalists will then compete in a round of public online judging where Facebook fans will be asked to vote for their five favorite small businesses to win the top prize package.

Education Works and it Shows

Last year, five entrepreneurs won a “Big Break” from American Express OPEN and Facebook and travelled to Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, CA, where they met with American Express OPEN and Facebook executives to learn how to use Facebook for their business.

For Bud and Lisa LeFevre, owners of Distinctive Gardens Inc., a Dixon, IL-based garden center, the trip helped them understand how to use Facebook as a marketing vehicle. This spring, the company began to implement their Big Break education and focused efforts on increasing sales using Facebook as the primary marketing tool. As a result, sales during the spring season rose by 37 percent year over year, reaching heights not seen since 2007.

Founders of Elkhorn, NE-based Fat Brain Toys, Karen and Mark Carson, also turned their winnings into real results. Since concentrating their efforts on turning their Facebook fans into customers, the company has seen a 236 percent jump in sales from Facebook visitors alone.

For more information visit, Big Break for Small Business.