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Special Project

Special Project
From the 10th Annual Shorty Awards

What It Takes To Be A Small Business Owner #OurMotivation

Entered in Long Form Video, Storytelling


What does it take to be a small business owner? Beyond business licenses, sales and services—what's the toll on the business owner, that person's family and how does it impact their day to day life? That's the untold story we wanted to tell. Our objective was to produce the first data-driven story that showed how all small business owners are connected across all industries, geographies and ages. What makes them alike? The answer: a tremendous amount of sacrifice, motivation and hustle.

Through quantitative and qualitative research, Kabbage gathered results from 400 small businesses to understand the work-life commonalities across all small business owners. These are the individuals that work through the weekends, answer calls on Christmas Day and represent 98% of all companies in America—supplying jobs throughout local communities and are the bedrock of the American economy. They deserve everyone's gratitude. This led to Kabbage giving back to one amazing small business in a big way and producing a must-see and heartwarming video. Combining data-backed storytelling and the power of video, we had the makings of an amazing story to produce Kabbage's #OurMotivation campaign.

Strategy and Execution

It was the team's determination to tell a meaningful story that tied to our core values of caring deeply and helping small business owners.

We employed Bredin, a well-regarded small business research agency, to poll small businesses across all age groups, industries, geographies, gender and company size. Also polling our own customers, we accumulated 400 responses from small business owners—a notable population from the small business community. The result was the first survey of its kind focused on the work-life commonalities across all small business owners. We understood the number one sacrifice small business owners make each year, how many meals they miss at home with their family, how many hours a week they work, which holidays they typically forgo because they're working, how many doctor or dentist appointments they miss, social gatherings, etc. It got to the heart of small business owners, revealing their grit, dedication and hustle.

For qualitative research, we fielded calls with small business owners about the sacrifices they make every day. In that process, we uncovered an amazing story with owner and founder of HairZing, Francesca Kuglen. A wildly successful serial entrepreneur, Fran is the epitome of never giving up. Having sold previous companies and millions of dollars' worth of her products on QVC, Fran was on to her third company and tenth invention when a large infomercial company began copying her product while her patent was pending. Battling in court for years over a product she invented, she went nearly bankrupt and was forced to liquidate assets; her husband even suffered a heart attack from the stress. She was ready to lose everything for her company.

It all improved when her patent was finally issued. With the court case dropped, she's now selling millions of units all over the world, and she accredits her survival to Kabbage. Kabbage gave her working capital when she needed it the most, and we had to be part of telling her story.

Our survey found the number one sacrifice small business owners make each year is not taking a proper vacation. With that data point, we married the customer story and survey by surprising Fran and her family with an all-expenses-paid vacation. A long-form video highlighting Fran's story, including surprising her with the vacation, was shared across social—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.

The story expanded well beyond the video, too. The team produced visual graphics, articles were written for Forbes and Entrepreneur, mailers were shipped to hundreds of small businesses, a Spotify playlist was curated by the Kabbage team to keep small businesses motivated and we joined podcasts and provided tips to small businesses.

It was a fully integrated campaign focused on storytelling spanning across the entire marketing team at Kabbage: partner activation, PR and earned media, paid social, executive activation, customer activation, email, SEO, brand and offline.


The power of data-driven storytelling and engaging video produced the most successful content-marketing campaign the company has produced to date. Since launching, the campaign has accounted for an impressive 15% of all traffic to the Kabbage site, with the landing page earning more traffic than our homepage. It earned millions of impressions on social and nearly 10K videos views. The landing page earned a whopping average time on site of 3 minutes and 47 seconds, indicative of a highly engaged audience.

The focus on storytelling earned coverage in: Inc, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Consumer Affairs, USA Today, SmallBizTrends and others.

The story truly connected with small businesses, earning comments such as:

"Totally agree with this, I've got my own business and if I'll pay myself as little as possible to keep the business going! I've definitely made sacrifices in the past but now we're going through massive expansion and it's all paying off!"

"I match a lot of these descriptions. I started with 25k I had saved & now im making $8000 a month in sales. About $3500 profit. Only 1.5 year in business. I cannot wait to see the future. I am growing each month and more and more customers!!! YAY"

"This is really great and I'm so happy to have learnt a lot... I'm building up my smoothie, cocktail and pastry business and this has sure helped me a lot..."


Video for What It Takes To Be A Small Business Owner #OurMotivation

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