Best Buy stages b-to-b outreach to the smallest of small-business owners

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“Best Buy knows there is a significant number of shoppers, in the stores and online, who own their own small businesses,” said Chris Schermer, agency president. “And they also know these people split their wallets between home and business purchases. We wanted to find a better way to identify these people.”

The campaign, running both in print (The Wall Street Journal) and on an array of Web sites focused toward small-business owners, promoted special offers and discounts on business-appropriate equipment, such as computers and printers. When these purchases were made in-store, the customer could be flagged as a small-business owner.

“We wanted to get them to say, ‘I am a business customer and I give you permission to communicate with me further about my business,’ “ Schermer said.

Schermer Kuehl served as lead agency, turning things over to Seattle-based RazorFish for online work.

About 45% of the total media budget was directed at print advertising in the Journal, running two to three times per week for five weeks, and coinciding with relevant small-business editorial content.

Four “Be the One” messages targeted the special concerns of small-business owners, such as connectivity (“Be the one who’s on top of your business long before you get to the office”) or peace of mind (“Be the one who’s as sure of your technology as you are of yourself”).

Other ads stressed work-life balance and connectivity with others, both achievable (the ads suggested) via Best Buy “Business Solutions.”

To further its exposure to small-business owners, Best Buy became title sponsor of the Journal’s Insight Exchange Panel, a national traveling event devoted to small-business issues.

With the campaign driven by specific products offered at special discount prices, the campaign’s cost was split with such Best Buy vendors as Hewlett-Packard Co., Brother and Microsoft Corp.

In support, Best Buy’s Web site ( featured a Small Business Center with product recommendations—the company has identified these products as its Professional Series lineup—industry-specific information and videos on small business advice.

The company also owns the computer-service company Geek Squad, so technical support and repair was prominently featured in the ads as well as on the site. An online social element has been added via a forum of recommendations from other small-business owners.

The campaign garnered 5 million online impressions per week during the five-week program. Offline, in the Journal, Best Buy’s ads appeared two to three times a week, appearing in 22.1 million papers.

“Print ads performed very well for driving traffic and purchases in-store during the weekly promotions,” Schermer said. “Even promoted items with no price discount at all generated incredible in-store sales lift.”

Best Buy was happy as well, and looks forward to leveraging its most ambitious foray yet into b-to-b marketing.

“There is a lot of opportunity to be better, but this first time out we exceeded our goals,” Patka said. “And it’s not just Best Buy; it’s also the vendors who were investing with us in the campaign. They were heavily involved in helping make it successful enough where they want to do it again.”

From a direct marketing standpoint, Best Buy has taken the first step in identifying its small-business customers in order to develop a potent database. The next phase will focus on lead nurturing.

“We have a lot of work to do, but we’re in the process of developing a community, a place that’s about the relationship,” Patka said. “It’s very exciting.”

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