Best Buy, GM team up to target small businesses

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The growing small-business market is the object of increasing attention from large national brands. In one recent example, General Motors and Best Buy have teamed up to promote their respective loyalty programs for small businesses with a joint sweepstakes.

Best Buy for Business was launched four years ago to help the electronics retailer learn more about its small business customers. Originally a retail program, it has evolved into a multichannel effort.

"This is the first time that we've done a sweepstakes," said Jolene Nelson-Helm, director of marketing at Best Buy for Business.

The promotion was the primary marketing focus at Best Buy for Business for the first half of the year, she said. The company learned from partner and sweepstakes-veteran GM, whose business program is 10 years old.

GM also benefited from the partnership.

"We've added new models and increased the types of businesses that we allow dealers to market to, including service and retail businesses," said Frank Jenkins, manager of promotions, partnerships and incentives at GM Fleet and Commercial.

The Business Choice program is directed at large and small businesses, but the majority of participants are small-business owners, Mr. Jenkins said. The program consists of several offers that qualified car buyers can choose from at the time of sale, such as free toolboxes, a Lowe's gift card or a credit card that earns points toward a future car purchase.

The Drive Your Business sweepstakes, which began on April 1, offers entrants the chance to win a $500 Best Buy gift card and a 2007 Chevy HHR outfitted with a mobile office. The sweepstakes runs through May 31.

Using a direct mail postcard, Best Buy and GM promoted the sweepstakes to their small-business loyalty customers. The postcard's messaging highlighted the sweepstakes while also showcasing GM and Best Buy's programs for small businesses. Recipients were directed to a Web site at www.bbfb.com/drive.

E-mails blasts, print advertising and fliers to GM's dealers also promoted the site. Preliminary results appear to be strong.

"We have seen a significant number of customers visit our dealership to test drive the Chevy HHR and a strong take-rate of the Business Choice program," Mr. Jenkins said.

He also predicted GM would sell an additional 30,000 cars this year through the Business Choice program than it did last year, bringing the total to about 270,000 cars. The uptick is the result of the entire range of marketing efforts GM is employing to support Business Choice, and not just the Best Buy promotion, according to Mr. Jenkins.

Ms. Nelson-Helm said she expects "hundreds of thousands" of contest entrants.

"Being able to bring together two entities that are very much focused on small business and using cross-pollination has helped us do an even better job of helping small-business owners," Ms. Nelson-Helm said.

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