Imagine running a business development program that is so powerful your potential clients can’t ignore it. I am talking about the business development power of creating an agency brand position, business proposition, and importantly, a new business development sales pitch system that becomes a must-read. And, even better, a must-read totally unignorable insight that must be passed around entire organizations.
Is this a Mission Impossible? No.
L2 and Me
Here is what L2 said 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. These were unignorable insights for brands with a competitive streak.
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.
So, borrowing a page from the L2 playbook, Citrus created The Gather Project: A Review of Healthcare Social Media. This was 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 the report’s 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 healthcare 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 – here is what I’ve written about cold vs. warm calls.
Did this thought leadership / insight-based / new business sales pitch 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. It has been viewed close to 5,000 times.
- This was a very efficient program. We used lower-cost interns to generate the data.
Oh, it’s OK to steal a very smart business idea and make it your very own. I discussed the value of modified theft from folks like Gary Vaynerchuk and Mahatma Gandhi here.
You Want unignorable ideas? Hey, Steal From Me.