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Press release from Business Wire

Five Small Businesses Receive Marketing Makeover from American Express OPEN and Facebook® and $25,000

<p class='bwalignc'> <i>More than 50,000 Votes Were Cast and Now Five Businesses and Their Communities Will Get a “Big Break”</i> </p>

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Five Small Businesses Receive Marketing Makeover from American Express OPEN and Facebook® and $25,00015:24 EDT Wednesday, September 05, 2012 NEW YORK (Business Wire) -- Local communities have rallied and five winners in the Big Break for Small Business competition have been chosen. Now, five small businesses will be trained by American Express OPEN and Facebook on how to build their brands, better market products and services, and target new customers. According to the Fall 2012 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, 41% of small businesses owners are planning to increase their focus on social media and Facebook is by far the most popular platform. There is therefore a growing need for training on social media marketing – as evident by the more than 12,000 small businesses that entered to win a “Big Break” this year—up from 11,000 in 2011. And the winners are:Winner     Name of Business & Location     Type of Business David Hendrickson     Hendrick Boards(Orange County, CA)     Skateboard/apparel Kristen Pond     Dick Pond Athletics(Chicago, IL)     Sporting goods Courtney Tellefsen     The Produce Box(Raleigh, NC)     Local produce delivery Cory Shifter     Casale Jewelers(Staten Island, NY)     Jewelry Store Arpana Satyu and Martin Burge     Dutch Monkey Doughnuts(Cumming, GA)     Bakery   “We're looking forward to meeting each of these hometown heroes,” said Laura Fink, vice president American Express OPEN Social Media and Shop Small. “Many small business owners are on Facebook but are unsure how to utilize all that the platform has to offer – we are here to help.” The Specifics Marketing experts from American Express OPEN and Facebook will travel to each of the five winner's small businesses to provide in-depth marketing and strategy sessions as well as $25,000 in cash to put the strategies into action. Each winner will also receive practical and personal training on best practices using Facebook Pages, Ads and Social Plugins, and will receive consultation on how to maximize their current usage of Facebook. This new found knowledge will help the winners rally their communities for the third-annual Small Business Saturday on November 24th. Next, the winning small businesses will have the opportunity to share their winnings and pay it forward by inviting other small business owners within their communities to meet a panel of social media and marketing experts from Facebook and American Express OPEN to teach them how to best utilize social channels for their businesses. Big Break 2011 Yielded Big Results: Last year, five entrepreneurs won a “Big Break” from American Express OPEN and Facebook and traveled 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 businesses. 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% 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% jump in sales from Facebook visitors alone. About American Express OPEN® American Express OPEN is the leading payment card issuer for small businesses in the United States and supports business owners with products and services to help them run and grow their businesses. This includes business charge and credit cards that deliver purchasing power, flexibility, rewards, savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners and online tools and services designed to help improve profitability. Learn more at OPEN.com and connect with us at openforum.com, facebook.com/Open, smallbusinesssaturday.com, twitter.com/OPENForum, twitter.com/shopsmall and linkedin.com/company/american_express_open. American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, business travel, and corporate card. M Booth for American Express OPENSal Della Monica, 212-539-3272sald@mbooth.comorAmerican Express OPENScott Krugman, 212-640-3244Scott.B.Krugman@aexp.com