It’s no secret that one of the biggest shopping periods of 2012 will be Nov. 23-Nov. 26 -- kicked off by Black Friday and capped by Cyber Monday. But that Saturday is also especially important for many small businesses. That’s the day American Express will hold its third annual Small Business Saturday.

If you aren’t familiar with Small Business Saturday, it’s the day to celebrate small businesses that are invigorating local economies and keeping communities thriving. It’s held the day after Black Friday to help small businesses gain exposure during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.

We wanted to fill you in on some details of Small Business Saturday, especially for new small business owners who might not be aware of the benefits of participating in the day.

Tips for small business owners

It’s not too late for business owners to participate in this year’s events. All small business owners are automatically considered a part of Small Business Saturday. There’s no registration or sign-ups. However, American Express offers several free tools to help small business owners create exposure for their businesses during the days leading up to Small Business Saturday, and, of course, on the actual day. These tools are available for free on the Small Business Saturday website, and include:

We encourage you to look through these resources and determine which might be useful to you in supporting your business goals. You can also plan a special event at your business or create an exclusive offer for customers who visit you on Small Business Saturday.

It’s worth looking into the resources available on the Small Business Saturday site to see how you can rally both fellow small business owners and your community to take part in the day. The site has social media and other communications tools you can use to get started.

Also, American Express has an incentive program for American Express Cardmembers that can in turn be beneficial to participating small businesses. The incentive lets Cardmembers register to receive a $25 statement credit when they spend $25 or more at a participating small business using their American Express card.

To see if American Express Cardmembers can get the $25 credit at your business visit the Shop Small Map to see if your business is listed. If it is, you qualify. If it isn’t, you can request to be added.

Community participation

Another important part of Small Business Saturday is the community support that it seeks to gather. Consumers can show support by hitting the streets this Saturday and patronizing your local small businesses. The more people that participate, the better the results. It not only helps the economy, but benefits the surrounding community.

In addition, many small businesses consider Small Business Saturday their kick-off to the holiday shopping season. They often run seasonal promotions and deals. Consumers can also spread the word about Small Business Saturday through their social networks and encourage their friends to shop at their local retailers.

We hope this information is useful to you. We’re also planning to talk to some of our tenants that are participating in this year’s Small Business Saturday, and will share how the weekend goes for them. Stay tuned and let us know about your success with Small Business Saturday.