Positioning itself as the essential partner of small businesses, The UPS Store is looking to build a groundswell of social media support for small businesses everywhere this week.
Working with agency Erwin Penland, the company is holding events in independent coffee shops in Seattle, Austin and Atlanta this week in honor of Small Business Week. At the events, the UPS Store will be treating patrons to free coffee and encouraging to say a few words about small businesses on social media using the hashtag #SmallBizSalute. (The three markets were chosen by their prevalence of small businesses and concentration of UPS Stores.)
“The UPS Store sees itself as a community resource for small-business owners,” Karen Mawhinney, senior vice president and group account director at the agency, tells Marketing Daily. “This is a way to celebrate small business owners.”
In addition to treating customers at the coffee shops, the brand has targeted surrounding offices, co-working spaces and startup hubs to bring in free morning coffee. The UPS Store is also hosting evening networking events for small business owners to connect with each other, share ideas and hear from an influential entrepreneur from their area. Though these surprises and seminars are clearly provided by The UPS Store, the branding is subtle.
“When we do deliveries, [our staff] is branded for the event and the coffee leaves as branding on them,” Mawhinney says. “But we try to make it more about the free coffee first and then tie it to The UPS Store.”
According to the UPS Store’s research, nearly three-quarters of small business owners (73%) said firsthand connection with others in their industries would be helpful. Meanwhile, 82% of them who worked with a mentor for their startup found the experience valuable.
“The UPS Store is committed to helping small business owners launch and grow their businesses in any way we can,” said Michelle Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and sales for The UPS Store, in a statement. “Small Biz Salute is our chance to take a moment to pause, recognize and celebrate those who do so much for our local communities and economies.”