Vistaprint, which provides custom printing and online marketing services for small businesses, is launching a campaign timed to coincide with Small Business Week May 4-8 called "Magnify Micro Business."
The online campaign profiles more than 1,000 businesses across the U.S. that have fewer than 10 employees.
"Traditionally, we have called [the segment] 'small business,' but small business is often defined as companies with less than 100 employees," said Don LeBlanc, CMO at Vistaprint. "But really, most small businesses have less than 10 employees, and in some cases only one or two employees."
Vistaprint, which has been in business for 20 years, started out as an e-commerce company that provided free business cards for businesses. Since then, it has expanded its product line to include posters, stationery, logo design, website hosting and other marketing services. It now serves more than 16 million micro-business customers.
"For the first 15 years, we were very focused on direct response -- we put 'free business cards' on the back of all our cards," Mr. LeBlanc said. "About four years ago, we started to shift the brand to focus more on the customer experience, the quality of our products and our customer service -- we really wanted to professionalize the business."
To raise awareness of its brand in the marketplace, Vistaprint in February launched an integrated campaign called "The Postcard," which included 30- and 60-second TV spots and an expanded online video that told the story of a father-and-son bakery.
"We really wanted to build more of an emotional connection with our customers," Mr. LeBlanc said. "Yes, our products are in there -- a postcard, a flyer and business cards -- but it's really more about family and the emotional backdrop of a small-business owner and how he thinks about passing the business on to his son."
Mr. LeBlanc said the widespread response was the impetus for "Magnify Micro Business," in which the stories of small-business owners are profiled on an interactive map of the U.S. on a Vistaprint microsite. "We are asking people for their stories -- what inspires you, what are your hopes and your dreams?" he said.
Small businesses can submit their stories online, and Vistaprint will select stories to profile on its website. During Small Business Week -- and over the next two months -- Vistaprint will recognize some of the micro businesses with awards. It will also use some of the small-business stories in ongoing marketing efforts, including online videos, social media and other efforts.