PR BY THE NUMBERS
What to do when you don’t know the people who buy your stuff
When faced with two branded products, why would you buy the more expensive one? At Ridgemount we’re big believers in the value of brands, so we would answer: “because you believe in the brand”.
If that’s your starting point, then creating sales for a premium product is about understanding what your customers are looking for and telling them (repeatedly) how your brand meets those needs.
Which is relatively straightforward if you:
- a) know what your customers want and
- b) know how to reach them
In 2017 we started work on a project for Prysmian, the world’s largest manufacturer of electrical cable. Unusually, this global organisation still manufacturers in the UK, producing the cable used in domestic and commercial installations and purchased by electrical contractors. Because the product is high quality it faces competition from cheaper, generally imported, alternatives.
In common with many B2B manufacturers, Prysmian sells through distribution. It knows its direct customers – the electrical wholesalers – very well indeed, but it didn’t have a direct communication channel with the individual contractors making purchasing decisions.
So the campaign started with research and audience profiling. Who are our customers? What are they looking for? And where are they finding their information?
The first research gave us a baseline. Critically, the research was repeated four times throughout the year-long campaign, allowing us properly to measure the impact of the various promotional activities.
Armed with the research results we had clear image of our customer (we called him Dave) and we had a better understanding of the reasons for his purchasing choices.
And we needed that evidence, because we were proposing a radical new direction for Prysmian: we wanted to go social.
Do contractors read trade magazines? Yes. Do they get information from Wholesalers? Yes. But they’re not only contractors, they’re also people. Generally guys between the ages of 35 and 60 and they are BIG Facebook users.
Getting results fast
We had three months to prove that we could produce results with social media. The second batch of market research was timed for three months after the campaign began. This is not enough time to develop an advertising campaign for trade press or to see results from a press relations campaign. Not enough time to get the instore promotions designed and distributed and not enough time to have completed the centre-piece video.
So while all of that important development work was going on, we had a clear three months to focus on social media.
Choosing Facebook and Twitter as our channels, and using a dedicated website as the central hub for all campaign-related information, we got motoring.
Telling the story
Clarity is everything when you’re telling a brand story and we focused on the characteristics of the Prysmian brand that we know resonate with the contractors. They’re professionals and our campaign repeatedly expressed why “Professionals Choose Prysmian”.
We told that story on the dedicated WhyPrysmian website and we used social media to take our audience there. Well-targeted content, promoted via social media advertising formed stage one of the campaign and the results were startling.
Provoking a reaction
In the first month, traffic to the WhyPrysmian site increased by 1,450% over the previous month (up to 7,530 visits) with a bounce rate of less than 10%. 89% of this traffic was driven by social media. Visitors to the leading blog page in this month had an average dwell time of eight minutes – demonstrating the relevance of the subject for our audience.
These numbers matter: but the numbers that really matter relate to outcomes.
Stage two of the market research showed that this activity was starting to produce an effect, with brand awareness and Net Promoter scores already moving upwards. With the evidence supporting our tactics, the social media element of the campaign was continued and expanded.
And the totally fantastic thing about social media is that the audience talks back. This is often a scary moment for brands as they see their customers able to react, comment and feed back on a public platform, but if you believe that your product is good and your company is ethical then you have little to fear.
As it turns out, Prysmian has a whole band of loyal users who care very much about the products. They are happy to endorse and recommend them, and they will also tell us (fast) if anything is upsetting them. Over time we have built an effective and engaged community of contractors who function as brand ambassadors: the most valuable endorsement possible.
Expanding the campaign
While being fans of social media, we’re not dismissing traditional channels and the campaign was always planned to integrate advertising, in-store promotions, trade shows and media relations into the mix.
The critical factor was consistency: we knew the four key messages we wanted to promote and all of the marketing collateral focused on those central themes, with striking creative designed for maximum impact.
Repeated market research measured the impact of the campaign over time on attitude, brand loyalty and purchasing decisions.
Creativity is normally the star of marketing campaigns, but creativity is only relevant if you understand your audience and you understand the results of your activity. It’s always more fun to focus on a great video, engaging content and high-impact advertising, but, at the end of the day the spreadsheets matter.
Anna Hern, Managing Director of Ridgemount PR