Paper Matters Blog
Honoring Small Businesses

Small Business History

Family-owned businesses became an integral part of American life and the US economy before they were ever thought of as “family-owned.” Initially, that’s just the way that businesses were run— by family.

Parents typically handed the reins down to their children, so everyone in the family needed to understand the business inside and out. This is partly because Americans have always believed that we live in a land of opportunity. Their mindset was that here, anyone with bright thoughts, determination and a willingness to work hard can start a business and prosper. We even gave it a name- the “American Dream” – and it has come true again and again throughout our history. Still, the road to success has always been harder for those in the minority, and, in this case small, family-owned businesses.

As our population has grown, so has our economy. Small business owners are now competing with giant retailers for brand awareness, engagement and, most importantly, business.

Over time, our country recognized a need to support the small or family-owned businesses that are part of its lifeblood and established National Small Business Week.

National Small Business Week

National Small Business Week is celebrated during the first week of May every year. It takes place from May 1 to 7 this year. For more than 50 years, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has celebrated National Small Business Week to honor the entrepreneurs of our country who have played their part in bringing new ideas to life and growing our economy.

Throughout the week, events are hosted all over the country and entrepreneurs from every state are given awards. Just as importantly, this week also serves to encourage small business owners to learn from the marketing campaigns and operations of larger businesses and evolve or adapt their own strategies.

To help celebrate small businesses like the printers, designers and creators that inspire us every day, we’re sharing our tips on building your brand as a small or family-owned business.


So, What’s The Strategy?

One of the most effective ways to win business is staying top of mind and building the right brand.

As a printer, if your brand runs parallel to “we’re a printer who prints things,” then you’ll want to rethink how you’re promoting yourself and create a brand with a hook. Are you marketing yourself in a way that appeals to today’s print buyers?

Most commercial printers are small family-owned businesses that employ fewer than 20 people, which creates a great marketing angle to consider. Family-owned businesses are often highly trusted and embody stability and longevity. Are you wondering how that can be branded? Let’s dive into it.

The “Warm and Fuzzy” Factor

Branding for any business is bigger than flashy logos, a big marketing budget, products, or even good customer service. It’s a statement of who you are at your core.

Now, more than ever, customers want to feel helped and heard. They want to know that their projects are a priority and they want to believe that you can help alleviate any issues that may arise during a printing job.

According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, which surveyed 33,000 people across 27 markets, small businesses are among the most trusted forms of business. That’s so important to the entrepreneurs of America, especially because their data also reported that only 56% of the people polled trust businesses in general.

Small and family-owned businesses engender a strong sense of community in consumers, a “warm and fuzzy” feel if you will. Your marketing efforts should take advantage of that platform. Emphasize your qualities and unique selling points (USPs) that are highly valued by consumers. Tell your family story and make your reality your narrative.


Recognize the Value of Small Business Marketing

Mintel, a global award-winning market intelligence agency that provides yearly industry reports, shared in their most recent report that 2022 consumers are less trusting than before and less likely to take brands on their word.

Consumers want to know more about the products they buy and who is behind the brand. Understanding what qualities of your business are valued by your customers will help you know what to amplify and emphasize.

For example—

  • Stability and familiarity
  • Trust and authenticity
  • Flexibility and versatility
  • Vision and long-term goals
  • Customer Service & being a part of the community

—these are all good qualities that consumers value.

Mintel’s report states, “a widespread understanding that community and belonging are critical to combat loneliness is pushing many to create like-minded communities themselves, whether in their surrounding areas or online.” In other words, consumers are searching for like-minded communities to connect with and support each other, driven partly by the lasting impact of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Establishing yourself as a family-oriented printer aligns with predicted consumer behavior and can allow you to let authenticity and voice shine through when marketing.


Connection, not Manipulation

Many of the elements we’ve discussed thus far have ties with our consumers’ emotions. Buyers don’t just want to think they’re making the right decision, they want to feel it.

In many ways, marketing yourself as a small, family-owned business is a marketing technique known as emotional marketing.


What was your last purchase?

What helped you decide to pull the trigger?

Yes, there are several factors in the decision, but I believe the choice is also felt. Potential print buyers exhibit the same behavior. Pricing and quality won’t be overlooked, but a good relationship between printer and buyer is tough to replace. The right marketing can help consumers see themselves in that scenario.

Emotional connections are part of what we love about paper— it’s tangible and you can feel the link between you and your work. It can be a part of what makes your small business great. It can be easy to discount small business branding as an option that simply plays on your customer’s emotions, but it’s much more than that.

Emotional marketing is defined by Hubspot as, “the marketing and advertising efforts that primarily use emotion to make your audience notice, remember, share, and buy.”

We all have feelings; it’s in our nature. The key is using them to connect with your audience, not to manipulate them. Researching emotional marketing techniques can help you strengthen your branding and create your identity as a small business.

For more print marketing tips, subscribe to the PrintWorks! Newsletter or visit our blog.

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Nicholas Pearson
Marketing Specialist
Meredith Collins
Customer Marketing Manager
Danielle Sinclair
Vanecia Carr
Sr. Director Marketing Product & Management
John Parke
Customer Marketing Manager
Paige Goff
Vice President of Sustainability
Deborah Corn
Domtar Paper
Roland Basdeo
Graphic Designer
Susan Jones