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Marketing to SMBs – An Integrated Media Case Study from UPS

UPS was highlighted at the Warrillow Summit this week in Toronto for having developed and executed a highly effective integrated media campaign that targets small business owners.

One of the key learnings this week was that advertisers looking to reach the SMB market should speak the same language as the small business owners and clearly demonstrate how they provide a valid business solution.

Jeff Berry, Vice President of Membership at Warrillow, explained that taking the not-so-sexy shipping category and explaining why company x’s complex infrastructure gets the job done better than its competition is not an easy task (even if it’s truly a differentiation). So, in 2007, UPS created a simplistic campaign using a couple of markers and a whiteboard to deliver their message.

The "Whiteboard campaign" consisted of 30-second TV spots, print media and an online campaign driving traffic to a highly interactive site that allowed audiences to explore UPS solutions offerings specifically geared to small businesses.


The 30-second spots were leveraged online through YouTube, providing a tremendous boost to the campaigns’ reach through both the original whiteboard ad and the viral effect from UGC spin-offs like “Sex Money” and “Getting Rid of the Body”.

Here are the results from the integrated media campaign:

  • 1.3 million visits to
  • 4,100 open account page visits
  • 26 million online ad interactions
  • International Shipping Revenue increase of 10.3%
  • Leader in unaided ad awareness at the end of Q2007
  • UPS 63%, FedEx 43.9%, DHL 13.6%, USPS 7.6%

Key Lessons Learned:

  • Communicate complex product offerings with simplicity
  • Interactions must be engaging, educational, inspirational and entertaining
  • Track post-click effectiveness to deliver better results


I think the consistency of the message was one of the ingredients to the success of the campaign. UPS took a strategy and maintained the tone throughout the entire campaign. From the concept of a white board to the animated look and feel of the site, the message was consistent and provided continuity. Continuity builds trust as customers feel that they know what to expect if they continue with the interaction.

The YouTube spoof factor worked in the favor of the company as most of the parodies continued to talk positively about UPS as a company (albeit through awkward case studies). This was a great example of "letting go" and allowing consumers to run with a core message. In my brief scan of the site, I counted roughly 30 versions/spin-offs of the original ad – not bad for a re-purposed 30-second spot!