Amazon Business is committed to the growth of small businesses and is invested in providing educational resources and grants to help small businesses grow. To demonstrate that commitment, the company launched its inaugural Small Business Month event in May of 2022, which included a virtual summit and a small business grant program. The Small Business Summit and Small Business Grants are pillars of how Amazon Business champions and empowers small businesses. The Small Business Grant program in particular celebrates small businesses and entrepreneurs making an impact in communities across the U.S. by awarding over $500,000 in monetary grants and other prizes to a total of 29 small businesses over the past two years.
Amazon Business announced its second annual Small Business Grants program during its Small Business Summit in May of 2023. Looking to drive increased participation from small businesses in its second year, the brand needed a multimedia campaign to build awareness and interest in its Small Business Grant. The primary goal of the campaign was to empower small businesses through Small Business Grant to grow their businesses.
To encourage customers to apply for the Small Business Grants, Amazon Business collaborated with the Walker Sands team to produce a documentary-style video series that would highlight the stories of five 2022 Small Business Grant recipients. The series would highlight the mission and growth of each business and organization, and showcase how the Amazon Business Small Business Grant enabled them to keep their mission moving forward.
The creative direction for the video series was to use candid, behind-the-scenes style footage and interview sequences to provide an authentic look at all the work, people and partnerships that go into realizing a small business’ dreams. To tell the Grant winners’ stories in a raw and authentic way, Walker Sands recommended that the voice of the business owners and entrepreneurs drive the narrative of the videos — omitting all corporatization from the storytelling and taking Amazon Business out of the spotlight as much as possible.
Walker Sands partnered with production company Flightless to bring the video series to life, which consisted of five :90s - 2min mini-documentary films spotlighting the 2022 Grant winner and four of the 2022 Grant finalists. Unique interview questions and selling ideas for each Grant recipient were developed ahead of time in order to guide onsite production. During production, the team aimed to include voices from multiple angles and perspectives, such as customers, students, partners and communities. The creative approach departed from the standard templatized mini-documentary format and instead let the tone and character of the business inspire the visual style of each film — creating a more distinct and intimate look that was authentic to the unique stories of each small business. For example, the video spotlighting the grand prize winner, MusicMakers! Summer Camp, focused on the company’s goal of igniting a lifelong interest in music-making, while the video spotlighting finalist The STEM Educational Institute highlighted how the nonprofit gives underrepresented high school students the technological skills needed to enter today’s workforce.
In addition to the video series, Amazon Business needed portrait and candid lifestyle photos of the 2022 Small Business Grant recipients for use in supporting promotional collateral, including on the web, digital advertising, organic social media and more. To meet this need, Walker Sands produced wide portrait and lifestyle shots that contextualized each business’ industry and impact, and portrayed each business owner as a visionary leader doing important, meaningful work. The team also ensured that the photography style was visually consistent with the stylistic direction of the video interviews: wide shots that contextualize each business’ industry while, in composition, positioning each leader as the central visionary driving positive impact on his or her community.
Following production, the videos and photo library were leveraged in a cross-channel campaign that was introduced during a virtual, free, education event: The Small Business Summit. Amazon Business leveraged onsite placements, push notifications, landing pages, paid and social ads, PR, emails, organic social posts, blog posts, as well as articles with Entrepreneur Magazine and Business Journals to reach its target audience.
Through authentic and emotionally uplifting storytelling, the video series successfully highlighted the impact and value of Amazon Business’ Small Business Grants program. Amazon Business found that small business customers who were shown the Small Business Month materials had stronger positive impressions, exceeding the brand perception lift goal. In comparison to the first year of the Small Business Grants program, Amazon Business delivered against their goal of increasing grant applications by 82% year over year.