In preparation for the launch of a new brand and communications plan during National Small Business Week in 2018, the Small Business Administration (SBA) determined that a multi-phased research study was needed to explore the motivations, challenges and barriers small business owners faced and to measure their familiarity, usage and perceptions of the SBA and its services. The testing of new communications and creative concepts for the SBA was also part of the research effort.
Together with the SBA and its marketing agency, ThinkNow developed a comprehensive research plan that consisted of the following elements:
- Listening Sessions: ThinkNow conducted a series of qualitative listening sessions among SBA resource partners to determine the needs and perceptions of these partners as it related to the SBA and its services.
- Synthesis of Information: ThinkNow synthesized existing data, trends and other information on small business owners and prepared a detailed report that synthesized the information from these multiple sources.
- Audience Profiles: ThinkNow developed a profile of the SBA’s key audience segments that included demographic and psychographic information, key issues/desires/motivators, and communication habits.
- Creative Testing (Round 1): ThinkNow conducted 12 online focus groups to test creative concepts among small business owners of different business life stages. This qualitative research eliminated the weakest concepts and provided direction on the stronger ones.
- Creative Testing (Round 2): ThinkNow conducted a second round of online focus groups (9) to test the revised creative concepts.
Through this comprehensive and successful research program, ThinkNow was able to provide the SBA with critical information and insights that guided and informed its brand and creative strategy for 2018.