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B2B Campaign of the Month: Best of British

William and Kate, a stiff upper lip and a dry sense of humour arguably epitomise everything that’s great about Britain. Our pride at seeing other Brits succeed, such as Andy Murray at Wimbledon, and the great Olympic spirit can be transformed into an unflappable determination to succeed. It was this strong British characteristic that the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) sought to leverage in its campaign showcasing the best of British. The government department for economic growth chose Mindshare to create its ‘Business is great’ campaign to build business confidence and highlight the Government support available for aspiring businesses.

The campaign, launched in November 2013, targeted the UK SME community to drive business growth in Britain. SMEs are an important audience for the Government to influence as they account for 99.9 per cent of all businesses in the UK, with approximately 4.8 million individual companies contributing to 40 per cent of all business. BIS identified a number of key areas that needed support in order to encourage growth in the UK economy. 

These were:

1. Exporting

2. Hiring

3. Learning

4. Forward planning

5. Obtaining finance

Raising ambitions
But when it came to targeting SMEs, research carried out by Mindshare revealed it was going to be tricky. The findings showed that small businesses were sensitive to government communications, and that the recession had made them adopt a short-term survival mentality, resulting in SMEs’ ambition being suppressed.

Realising this, BIS knew it had to adopt motivational and inspiring messages rather than instructional ones to avoid sounding bossy or patronising. It intentionally steered clear of using statements with large facts and figures, which could be perceived 
as propaganda.

So, when signs of a recovering economy started to surface BIS leveraged behavioural economics to get SMEs thinking about long-term growth. This was the trigger and inspirational lever to prime them for the more direct growth behaviours of exporting to new markets abroad and hiring new staff.

A highly visual online destination (greatbusiness.gov.uk) showcasing UK excellence in business provided an environment for SMEs to develop their ideas, compile business plans and strategies, employ more staff, or begin the process of exporting. The site also shared links to key business support tools, and highlighted the top tools available from across the Government, in addition to a wide range of providers. Alongside the website, campaign messages were pushed out across a number of social channels, press and digital advertising. Government ministers and prime minister David Cameron also publicly spread the word that Britain is an attractive country to work and do business with.

Tailored communications
A second layer of communications explicitly promoting the benefits of hiring and exporting projected messages of tangible growth for SMEs. Communications for these two areas were tailored for three SME sub-groups: ‘Tomorrow’s champions’ fast-growing businesses with potential to grow more powerful; ‘Power houses’ highly powerful and sophisticated businesses; ‘Family businesses’ smaller businesses that possess unique qualities. Messages targeting family businesses were primarily motivating, whereas ‘enabling’ messages were sent to the other two groups.

Those interacting with the communications relating to hiring or growth are directed to a page within the campaign website where they are guided through the journey from strategy to export and/or hiring. To reach the end goal of the journey, the importance of forward planning, obtaining finance and learning new skills is hammered home.

Jo Simmons, head of campaigns at BIS said: “We knew that simply telling businesses about government support wouldn’t get them to export or hire new staff. Businesses are keen to learn from each other, and seeing successful British small and medium sized businesses achieve great things really inspires action. We’re really pleased with the planning work Mindshare has done and the clarity and focus it has given the campaign.”

‘Business is great’ is running until March 2014, with new activity being briefed from April 2014. BIS is also working with TNS to track the effectiveness of the campaign. Early indications have proven very encouraging, with 60 per cent of businesses claiming they intend to plan for growth.