Imagine running a business development program that is so powerful your potential clients can’t ignore it. I am talking about the new business power of creating a brand position, business proposition and messaging system that becomes a must read. And, even better, a must read that must be passed around entire organizations. Mission Impossible? No.
L2 and Me
A bit over 10 years ago when I was running the advertising agency Citrus, I discovered New York’s L2. L2 is a research company that has been zeroing in on a handful of client categories since its inception. Today, L2 concentrates on the luxury, drinks, beauty, auto, retail, CPG and travel categories.
Here is what L2 says about itself on its website:
L2 is a benchmarking and education firm, helping member brands shape their digital roadmap and achieve greater ROI on human, creative and financial capital. We provide our member brands with actionable, data-driven insights on their digital performance at a fraction of the cost of traditional consulting. We achieve this through our proprietary Digital IQ Index® research.
The thing about L2 that grabbed my attention was that they created research reports that compared the marketing activities of all of the brands in a category and delivered this information in extremely well designed free reports. The reports had (!) to be read as they included an analysis of the marketing prowess, or lack thereof, of a range of competitive brands.
Early reports covered the luxury market where you just knew that the marketing departments of Gucci, Fendi and Louis Vuitton had to see how they stacked up against each other in respect to their websites, social media programs and overall digital marketing. Here is an example of a chart from a report on luxury brands operating in China. You can see how irresistible this kind of information would be for highly competitive brands that are always looking over their shoulder at the competition.
So, borrowing a page from the L2 playbook, Citrus created The Gather Project: A Review of Healthcare Social Media a detailed analytical report that we thought would be an impossible to ignore research study for the healthcare market . This report took a hard look at how national and regional healthcare brands were employing social media in the somewhat early social days of 2010.
Here is the Gather Report’s cover and our introduction:
With over 550 million Facebook users, 150 million Tweeters and 50 million bloggers, marketers can’t afford to relegate social media to the second page of a marketing plan. In 2011, it will be one of the most essential elements you use to connect with your customers. According to the Society of Digital Agencies, more than 45% of senior marketers named social media and networks their top priority in 2010.
It’s not a fad, it’s a reality.
Citrus has conducted a study to better understand how health care marketers are using social media. The end result is a definitive snapshot of how the health care industry is adopting social media and how they can improve the power of these programs and optimize their social ROI in the future. The following pages will paint a comprehensive picture of social media in your industry:
1: We reveal the findings of our survey of your peers.
2: We’ll show you what others are doing and reveal who’s doing it the best (and worst)
3: We provide a roadmap to successfully integrating Social Media into your strategy.
We created the study using interns that scoured the social media activities of best and worst in class healthcare organizations. Our goal was to capture the attention of our prospective clients and quickly get them to realize three things: 1) Citrus was very smart; 2) there was no way that a smart healthcare marketing director could ignore the power of social media and 3) take our warm call (I’ve written about what I call warm calling).
Did this thought leadership program work? Yes.
The Gather Project helped us win lucrative new business from two major west coast healthcare providers: Providence Health and Services and PeaceHealth.
The bottom line(s):
- Thought leadership is a critical / actionable element of a sound inbound and outbound marketing program.
- A comparison of competing brands and marketing activities is hard for client types to ignore.
- Proving that your agency is smart and on top of marketing trends is a good thing.
- Concentrating on a specific category is a good thing.
- Repurposing content is a good thing. We had a paper-based master report; a digital report ala eBook; created individual emails to support targeted findings; we edited the findings into blog posts; we Tweeted these out; we put them on LinkedIn and the report was placed on SlideShare.
- Use lower cost interns or outsourcing to generate data.
Oh, it’s OK to steal a very smart business idea and make it your very own. I discussed the idea of idea theft on LinkedIn.