Campaign of the Week: Mastercard, Business Facelift  

Financial services brand revamps the storefronts of Polish small businesses. From Contagious I/O.

Hipsters have given independent shops a boost in many countries but not Poland. Approximately 100,000 small business have been forced to close in in Poland over the past decade.

Why? Because while small business owners know how to make quality products, they don’t know how to market them.

To help these businesses thrive, Mastercard created Business Facelift, a programme that matches small business owners with designers and specialists to revamp their storefronts. The programme also included a quick business management course store owners could take to learn the basics of communication and how digital solutions could improve their business.

‘They have no idea how to promote themselves and they have no budgets, this makes them powerless against big brands,’ explains the narrator of the campaign video. ‘Mastercard wanted to give small businesses a fair fighting chance.’

Businesses were also invited to enter an online competition to win a free storefront makeover. The catch? Every entrant needed to have Mastercard’s POS technology (or get it installed before the competition end date). A vegetable shop in Wroclaw, a photo studio in Lubaczów and a pierogi restaurant in Poznań were all chosen as winners.

To promote Business FaceLift, Mastercard executed a stunt on one of the busiest streets in Warsaw. The financial services provider worked with the small businesses on said road and revamped their storefronts overnight. Mastercard then released a documentary about the whole process – so other small business owners could see the benefits of a makeover.

The brand partnered with urban design NGOs Traffic Design and Miastodwa, as well as McCann Warsaw, to develop the campaign.

Results / According to the agency, the campaign reached 5 million Poles in the first month and over 100 small business owners registered to have a makeover. The campaign also received a wide range of press coverage and sparked a nationwide debate about ‘signboard aesthetics, regulations and the need for specialised help for small businesses’.


Marketing challenge / We recently spoke to Facebook about its push to help small business owners with marketing. The social media platform had found that, while SMBs are popular with communities, entrepreneurs struggle because they often lack the multitude of skills needed to thrive.

‘One of the things that made it so hard to succeed is the lack of marketing expertise these small business owners have. Forty-seven percent of SMB owners handle marketing efforts on their own and 52% of SMBs find a lack of familiarity with digital tools to be a challenge,’ said Tim Jones, executive strategy director at 72andSunny, New York, who developed Facebook’s Keep It Local campaign to engage SMB owners.

Michelle Klein, senior marketing director at Facebook, pointed out that, ‘As a small business owner, you are often faced with the challenge of wearing all the different hats: CEO, CMO, etc. Time, budgets and resources are strained, and although marketing is a priority, it’s lower down on the list of things to do.’

With Business Facelift, Mastercard demonstrates how its services can help small business owners by publicly solving a common pain point.

The number of small businesses worldwide has grown significantly. In the UK, for example, there were 5.7 million private sector businesses at the start of 2017, 99.3% of which were small businesses (99.9% were small or medium-sized businesses), according to the National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses. And the combined annual turnover of these SMBs was £1.9tr. Though these numbers are for Britain, not Poland, they prove that there’s a lot of money-making potential in the small business market – so it makes sense for Mastercard to target this group.

Promoting expertise / While many small business owners are stretched too thin and lack expertise, Mastercard has a variety of professional tools at its disposal. ‘We support entrepreneurs not only in terms of providing payment solutions, but also in meeting their business challenges. One of them is the image of the company. An attractive store design can encourage more customers to come in and buy, which will result in higher profits for entrepreneurs,’ said Marta Życińska, VP and head of marketing and communications for Central East Europe at Mastercard Europe, in a statement.

With this service, Mastercard is demonstrating its expertise in an engaging way. Finance isn’t the sexiest subject area. But, by incorporating real people, their stories and their aesthetically pleasing store fronts into the message, Mastercard humanises its product and makes it more enticing.

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