Best Software Looks to Be Big for Small Business

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Best Software, the North American operations division of software giant The Sage Group plc, began a multimillion-dollar campaign last month aimed at raising its visibility in the small and midsize business marketplace.


The print and direct marketing effort underscores the company's new tagline: "Your Business in Mind."


"The tagline is our way of expressing that we get it, that we understand what it means to be a small and midsized business," said Dennis Frahmann, senior vice president of integrated marketing communications at Best Software, Irvine, CA.


The campaign supports the company's business management software including ACT!, Peachtree, Timberline, ACCPAC, SalesLogix, MIP Fundraising Paradigm and Abra HRMS. The effort is designed to tie together all of its brands. Best Software has grown in the past five years by acquiring 15 software companies.


"To a large extent, this campaign represents the creation of a larger master brand identity that ties together all of the offerings in an area that is meaningful to our small and midsized business customers," Frahmann said.


The print ads debuted in the January issues of Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Accounting Technology. They will run in 60 business and trade publications in the United States and Canada during 2005.


While the print ads are geared to prospects, the direct marketing, which also started in January, targets the company's installed base. The direct marketing includes mail and e-mail. The company has 2.3 million small or midsize business customers.


"Over the course of the year, most of our customers, if not all, will receive one or more pieces of direct mail from us, and they will all exist in this overall campaign," Frahmann said. "But they will be tied to specific business initiatives, such as promotions or offers we might have at a specific time of the year."


Best Software runs 50 or more direct or e-mail marketing campaigns quarterly, each sent to specific segments of its customer base. The company is also targeting some mailings to prospects.


The current effort uses a series of everyday images with unexpected messaging. A direct mail piece sent in January promoting Abra HRMS, a human resources and payroll software tool, features a large mustard jar in a supermarket setting emblazoned with the statement, "I don't need the Jumbo Size, I need an HR system that fits my business."


Another mail piece promoting MIP Fundraising Paradigm, software that helps organizations manage the fundraising process, features a refrigerator door, slightly opened, emblazoned with magnets that say: "I'd be able to sleep if I had a better way to target high-value donors."


"We like to call this 'life interrupted by work,' " Frahmann said. "In talking to small and midsized businesses, we realized work is always on their mind, even when they are outside of work. So every visual we are using in our advertising campaign is actually in a non-work setting, and they are meant to capture that sense that their concerns and their dreams and their worries about work happen at any time."


The mail pieces also feature business reply cards that recipients can send to Best Software for more information as well as special offers such as a free copy of "A Nonprofit's Guide to Purchasing Software" or an offer for a free, no-obligation online demonstration of a specific software product.


The campaign represents the largest media buy for Best Software. Creative and media planning were developed by agency Colby & Partners, Santa Monica, CA. Multiple agencies are involved in DM activities. Some DM was done in-house as well.


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