With the big competitors like Time Warner and Verizon vying for the national attention of small businesses through TV spots, Sprint opted to reach potential customers where they are: online.
DigitasLBi created digital spots to help generate awareness for Sprint's Small Business Solutions group, which offers mobile point-of-sale solutions, asset tracking, mobile products and cloud services for small-business owners. A 24/7/365 support team also comes as part of the deal.
The digital videos were launched during the first and second weeks of March, with a third set to release on March 28. All are on YouTube, with promotions for the spots posted to Sprint's LinkedIn and Twitter handles. There is also direct mail; email with the video embedded; and banners on Sprint.com driving viewers to a landing page.
The videos tell short stories of fictional small-business owners "Jack" and "Kate" and how Sprint Small Business Solutions helped them with their specific business needs.
Sprint realizes it is predominantly known for its consumer-facing products and equally stiff competition for small business services. But Chris Schaper, Sprint's group manager-national advertising believes it has something "unique" to offer and is reaching small-business buyers in the right place
"We know there are lots of big players in this space and we see ourselves as a challenger brand," said Mr. Schaper. "We have figures that show small-business owners are researching online before making any business decisions. They are seeking information from peers, too, before they make contact with a service provider, so we wanted to make sure we were visible there [in social media]. This is a very efficient media spend for us."
Mr. Schaper declined to reveal how much of Sprint's national ad budget was allocated to promote its Small Business Solutions, but did note that the online-only ads are already generating "a fair amount" of attention. Specifically, the first ads spots received over 5,000 views in the first few days and at press time had generated nearly 57,000 views. The second spot, which was posted March 14, at press time had garnered over 22,000 views.
"We just haven't had the resources to promote in the business space, and we thought doing that through digital videos would be relevant and a good approach to small businesses," added Mr. Schaper.
DigitasLBi Exec VP Mark Kiernan also supported the choice for Sprint to opt for a digital campaign, noting the growing strength of the medium particularly for b-to-b marketers.
"Digital video has come of age, it's a dominant thing and companies like Sprint realize that instead of content in the form of white papers and sales support materials, it's about what will they really respond to. Once you are hooked, then they can see the papers and materials," said Mr. Kiernan. "What's happened in last two to three years is digital has given us a view on how marketing can support the sales project and how we can target around the decision making process. It's a way for brands to have more of a dialogue [with a potential buyer] before it gets handed off to a sales person."