Big businesses must build a bond of trust with their small-business brethren in advertising. While the corporate behemoths may be too big to fail, small businesses are not. They are working without a net and need all the help they can get.
That's why small businesses will usually appreciate a pitch from successful, well-established companies that can help them solve their problems. Lectures and braggadocio by the big players will fall on deaf ears. Small businesses only care about what's in it for them, and they want to hear about it in the most human of terms.
American Airlines is one big operation (and will become even larger if its merger with US Airways gets done), yet it demonstrates a nimble touch in talking to its small-business segment. American selects the right audience by featuring a photo of the principals of BuzzTable under the headline: “Big travel savings no matter your business size.”
When the BuzzTable boys need to hit the road, American is there with its rewards programs to help small businesses stretch their travel budgets. The copy in this ad has a friendly, approachable ring to it thanks to its frequent use of such personal pronouns as “you” and “your.”
“Points can be redeemed for future trips and a variety of other rewards to help your business lower travel costs and accomplish more. Sign up now—you could use a travel award to meet your next customer sooner than you think.” American makes it clear that customers are what count, not the airline itself.
Like American, the UPS Store makes a customer the hero in this ad promoting its logistics services for small businesses. The photo depicts Sandy, the owner of a Hawaiian pie shop, who is surrounded by her mouth-watering handiwork and a plain brown UPS box. The headline notes that she can make crust and filling by hand, but that's as easy as pie. To build her business, however, she needs help with distribution and promotional materials.
UPS demonstrates that it understands the challenges faced by its small-business customers. Here's an example of the copy: “... And when tourists asked to ship pies from her Hawaiian island shop in Kauai to the mainland, she went to the UPS store in her neighborhood. Because while Sandy knows all about flaky crust and fruit filling, the UPS Store experts know all about packing and shipping.”
Deluxe Corp., the checks and business forms giant, has been catering to small businesses since its inception almost 100 years ago. Deluxe obviously knows a thing or two about how to appeal to the fantasies of these customers with this superbly executed ad that depicts a surfer making tracks toward the sea beneath a headline that zeroes in on its audience: “You own a surf shop. It doesn't own you.” The photo is absolutely stunning and draws readers into the scene before the eye absorbs the headline.
The text is just as compelling: “But don't let your dream job become work. From websites to printing to marketing, our expertise is at your command.” Imprinted against the image is the Deluxe logo and tagline: “Work happy.” The ad unquestionably epitomizes that slogan.