While family owned businesses may seem insignificant, they account for over 1/3 of Fortune 500 companies and for 80% of all new job creation, 60% of employment, and 50% of gross domestic product.
Marketing a small family business and focusing efforts around those attributes is a strategic marketing choice and not so much done to save money or resources according to small business marketing and management writer Joanna L. Krotz.
She writes first and foremost that connecting family values to your company is a sign of stability and responsibility to potential clients, which has become more valuable in recent times, especially following the aftermath of major corporate scandals such as Enron.
“The family-ness factor works well in marketing,” says Ira Bryck, who directs the Family Business Center at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. “Just as long as the business is treated like a business and the family is treated like a family.”
One family style marketing success story of recent history features Columbia Sportswear company owner Gert Boyle, whose parents founded the company in 1938. The ad campaign portrays “Mother Boyle”, an aggressive but humorous character that emphasizes the matriarchal standard “One Tough Mother” and later “Don’t forget who makes the pants in the family.”
Techniques abound for promoting and marketing a family image for smaller, newer businesses. Highlighting history is a good method and has been used successfully by small businesses borne out of historical events such as natural disasters and Prohibition for example. Other methods include publishing company history in marketing materials.
However, family or no-family, nothing takes the place of a good business and marketing plan. In the end, customers will judge your business on the merits, so pricing, quality, and service are absolutely essential issues.