U P S Bills Stores As Small- Business Solution

Saturday, September 22, 2012

FEWER people are mailing their own packages these days, so shippers are looking for innovative ways to win new customers and persuade current clients to spend more. And what could be a more enticing image than homemade pie? Enlarge This Image Sandy Poehnelt, who runs the Right Slice bakery in Kauai, Hawaii, and ships pies by U.P.S., is featured in the company's new advertising campaign.

In its new campaign, United Parcel Service retail stores focus on how a small business like the "pie lady" can get help from her local store to specially package, promote and ship her bakery creations.

"I make the crust by hand. I make the filling by hand. But to build my business, I need a hand," said Sandy Poehnelt, who runs the Right Slice bakery in Kauai, Hawaii, in a print, television, radio and online campaign that started this week.

Her local U.P.S. retail store designed a shipping box to ensure that her mango passion fruit, blueberry pina colada and dozens of other pie varieties arrive fresh and intact. That has enabled her to expand her business from Hawaii to other parts of the United States.

Officially known as the UPS Store, the retail locations are independently owned and operated by franchisees of Mail Boxes Etc., a subsidiary of U.P.S., and are being revamped to offer a broader range of business services. In addition to packing and shipping items, UPS Stores are also supplying printing services - banners, brochures, menus and many other products - as well as faxing, direct mailing and mailbox services.

Owners and employees of the stores have been retrained and have new uniforms. Stores have a bright aqua and teal color scheme, and some locations have new equipment. But U.P.S. is keeping its distinctive brown and gold corporate shield.

"Our research shows that the majority of small businesses feel they don't get support to cope with their challenges," said Michelle Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and small business solutions at the UPS Store headquarters in San Diego.

Using focus groups, surveys and techniques like journals kept by small-business owners, the company found last year that most small-business owners wanted to work with other local business people because they felt they could trust them more and because their economic health was linked, Ms. Van Slyke said.

But many did not know that their community UPS Store was a franchise operated by a local owner, she said. Nor did they always know the full range of services the store provided, she added.

Even so, she said, a third of the customers of the 4,300 UPS Stores are small businesses - with 10 or fewer people or individuals - that accounted for 75 percent of overall revenue.

To attract more small enterprises, the UPS Store's "Small Business Solutions" campaign emphasizes that its new services can be customized, like the specially designed pie box, to meet a specific business need. In a two-minute video, Ms. Poehnelt traces how she arrived from Wisconsin three years ago, then opened a pie shop to make use of her baking skills and, with the help of her local UPS Store, a mail-order business that ships pies around the United States.

The local UPS Store also does her printing, including business cards, menus and gift certificates, the video notes. The stores, which compete with FedEx Office, Office Depot and even the local post office, say their services can be bundled into accounts for monthly billing.

Doner, an advertising agency based in Detroit, designed the multifaceted campaign to underscore the message that the neighborhood UPS Store is the "repository of solutions to help small businesses," said Clint White, the agency's brand leader for the stores.

Three television commercials, by Ogilvy & Mather Chicago, humorously highlight the UPS Store's connection to small and individual business owners. One, called "Mailboxes," shows various box renters peering into "their office" and explaining why it is valuable to them. Another shows a building contractor, who relies on his UPS Store's services to meet demands from clients, including a woman who commissions a doghouse that is a replica of her elaborate house. The 30- and 60-second commercials will appear on prime-time shows like "The X Factor," and on cable, late-night shows and N.F.L. games and ESPN Monday Night Football. The CBS anchor Charles Osgood will voice the campaign's ads on his radio broadcasts.

The campaign also will advertise on digital media, mobile video and video on YouTube, Hulu and other online sites. Customers will be able to submit their stories of how a UPS Store has helped their enterprise, and those stories could be featured in a future ad campaign.

The company spent $30 million on advertising in 2009. The UPS Store did not disclose what it would spend this year, but Ms. Van Slyke said it would be the company's largest annual outlay.

Last year, U.P.S. spent nearly $40.4 million to promote the stores, and almost $23.4 million in the first six months of 2012, according to figures from Kantar, the unit of WPP.

As part of its campaign, the UPS Store also has a small-business solutions portal to connect small-business owners with relevant news, blogs, videos and vendors offering legal, financial, technological and other services.

Ms. Poehnelt's print ad can be scanned by a mobile device to link to a video of her baking and doing more routine chores like paperwork - set in the idyllic Kauai scenery.

"At the end of the day, it's on me," she says of her business. "But shipping pies is one thing I don't have to worry about."

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