$25 Free for Me? Why FedEx’s Small Business Saturday Facebook Promotion May Have Missed the Mark

First of all, let me start by saying “I *heart* FedEx.” They have always provided a professional and efficient service to me and my small business. I can’t imagine ever stopping my business with them.

Recently, however, their effort to create a boon for small business was taken at more than face value, creating hundreds (if not thousands) of disgruntled freebie-finders who became angry with the company over what they intended to be an act of goodwill in this down economy. Let me explain:

FedEx has been gearing up for some time for today’s Facebook promotion, which promised to hand out 20,000 free Amex gift cards in the amount of $25 each to anyone who showed up and “Liked” them on Facebook, then fill out the form. The promotion, understandably, was met with great excitement, and bloggers began sharing the news of the free gift card promotion before the event and national news outlets even covered the possibility of “something for nothing.”

Before you go wondering why FedEx would attempt such a stunt, you must understand the heart behind the promotion. Here is a quote from the FedEx Facebook page:
“November 26th marks the second annual Small Business Saturday, a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, help fuel the economy, and preserve neighborhoods around the United States. American Express founded Small Business Saturday as a direct response to one of the most pressing needs of a small business owner — more demand for their products and services. And this year, FedEx is teaming up with American Express to make Small Business Saturday huge on November 26, 2011. So go out and shop to support small businesses.”
Sounds great! In fact, their effort to provide 20,000 consumers with the $25 Amex gift cards is the perfect way to make sure that shoppers go out on Small Business Saturday and get the funds back into the small business economy. Unfortunately, so many people were clueless of the vision of this promotion, and it leads us to wonder if they will even go out into the world on this day to spend their cards appropriately.

Here are just a few of the comments on Facebook, after the promotion was over (which, by the way, got off to a late start due to the overwhelming number of people who visited the page):
“You would have been farther ahead and more respected if you gave them to those in need or shut in or disabled veterans. Shame on you!”
“It would be nice if you did a giveaway like this when people aren't at work and can't go on Facebook . . .”
“Thanks for nothing....As most I have a job and could not be here at 1pm”
“I think FedEx can afford to do this again! Your only helping 30K small businesses, it's a drop in the bucket FedEx”
(Far from an “attitude of gratitude”, right?)

So, what do you think? Did FedEx spend their money wisely by sending out all these gift cards to be used at small businesses? Is the profit to the small business owner worth the trouble they went through to get it done?

*photo by DanDeChiaro via Flickr

We’d love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, be sure to check back here this week, where we will be highlighting some of the finer points of Small Business Saturday. There are some pretty exciting things going on!

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