The UPS Store is turning National Small Business Week (May 1-7) into Small Business Month, with a monthlong campaign called "Small Biz Salute" that will kick off next Monday.
The campaign includes in-person events, a business-pitch contest, social media and a partnership with Marcus Lemonis, host of the CNBC reality show "The Profit."
"Small business owners are a core part of our business, and we want to provide them with resources and tools to help them be successful," said Michelle Van Slyke, VP-marketing at The UPS Store.
"Small Biz Salute" is part of an overall rebranding effort The UPS Store launched in 2012 to target small business customers, under UPS's campaign "United Problem Solvers."
Ms. Van Slyke said the "Small Biz Salute" campaign will focus on two areas: Networking and insights.
"The more small businesses can network and be with other small businesses, the more they can be successful at growing their own businesses," Ms. Van Slyke said.
To that end, The UPS Store is hosting four local, in-person events during May, in Minneapolis (May 4), Nashville (May 12), Houston (May 18) and Phoenix (May 24), at which Mr. Lemonis and other thought leaders will present keynote speeches and share insights about how to be successful at running a small business.
"Marcus is an expert when it comes to small businesses," Ms. Van Slyke said. "One of his areas of expertise is how to market to and get engaged with customers at the local level."
As part of the event series, The UPS Store is hosting a "Small Biz Salute" business-pitch contest, in which small businesses can pitch an idea and describe how they would use $5,000 in prize money to grow their business.
Businesses can apply for the contest online, and finalists will be given three minutes to pitch their idea at each event to a live audience and panel of judges, including Mr. Lemonis. The winner at each event will receive $5,000 to invest in their business.
The UPS Store is using social media to promote the campaign with the hashtag #smallbizsalute, as well as on its Small Biz Salute website.
"As businesses look to compete for the $5,000 they will have the opportunities to share their stories, and any insights we get from the events we'll be putting out in social," Ms. Van Slyke said.
Another component of the campaign is a research study The UPS Store conducted among 500 small business owners in March on some of their most pressing issues.
The research found that the top challenges for small business owners are marketing and/or branding their business (31%); finding time to effectively manage their business (23%); lack of financial resources (23%); and money management (18%).
Small business owners also said that when considering networking opportunities, the top platforms are local, in-person events or meetups (61%); social networks or online communities (33%); networking conferences or events (33%); and networking happy hours or social events (28%).
The UPS Store will be sharing the research findings at the events, online and in social media.