An oft-repeated bromide in social marketing circles is that advertisers should seek to create value for their constituents.
Visa has taken the mantra to heart, creating a Facebook app for small businesses and promising to give away $100 in free Facebook advertising to the first 20,000 proprietors to install it.
“At the moment, with the economy being a bit challenging, [small businesses] are looking for new ways to attract new customers,” said Alex Craddock, Visa’s head of small business marketing. “This is a way to help them do that… risk-free.”
Visa worked with media agency OMD and agency of record AKQA to create the Visa Small Business Network app, which offers small business proprietors advice, resources, and the ability to search for and connect with one another. Among its specific offerings is a software toolkit from Google that melds free products including Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Calendar. Media partners including The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine will contribute advice and content feeds on financial issues related to running a business.
The Facebook effort is part of Visa’s new U.S.-based ad campaign geared toward small businesses. Messaging is delivered in the voice of small business owners, and repeats the tagline, “We’re anything but small.”
“It can be a lonely walk as a small business owner,” said Craddock. He added Visa’s purpose with the Facebook application is to assist small businesspeople. “This in many respects is a product extension for us.”
Visa is creating new online, print and radio ads to drive awareness for the app. Its online media buy will include ads on the Facebook platform.
Under the ad giveaway promotion, it will offer a total of $2 million in Facebook ad credits to small businesses that install the app. In addition to generating good will and brand equity for the credit card services giant, the move should benefit Facebook by generating new awareness and trial customers for its ad platform. “If the business owner finds value in it, they’re going to want to keep doing it,” Craddock observed.
According to Facebook, approximately 80,000 small businesses already have a presence on its site.