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Aug 26, 2010
Case Study

Social Media, Online Videos and Contest Change Brand Perception: 7 Steps that Connected with Prospects and Increased Leads 30%

SUMMARY: Having a high-end, prestigious brand is usually a good thing -- unless that image is preventing you from attracting certain desirable prospects.

Read how the team for a temporary office space provider designed an edgier marketing strategy to counter their image as a high-cost, unattainable solution for New York City startups and entrepreneurs. Using social media, online videos, a contest and in-person events, they boosted leads 30% and revenue 114% -- and got the green light to try similar tactics around the country.
by Sean Donahue, Editor


CHALLENGE

Rebecca Tann, VP Marketing, Regus, oversees the team that generates leads for the company's office space, meeting rooms, and other temporary workplace options in cities across the U.S. In late 2009, the team was tasked with developing priority campaigns to boost revenue and occupancy in a handful of specific markets, including Manhattan.

The team's previous marketing strategy for the New York region been focused on traditional media, such as TV and radio advertising. But this approach wouldn't fit within the constraints of the team's new mandate.

"Based on what we had done in New York City, we knew that media is extremely expensive," says Tann. "We had a limited budget, but we needed to make the same kind of noise."

Tann and her team saw an opportunity to develop a new marketing strategy that went beyond the company's traditional marketing comfort zone -- and was more in tune with the personality of the New York entrepreneurial market.

CAMPAIGN

The team focused its lead-generation campaign on startups, entrepreneurs and small or sole proprietor consultants. Connecting with these smaller, "scrappier" companies required new messaging delivered through new media.

The integrated campaign included:
o A sweepstakes
o Viral videos
o Social media outreach
o In-person events

Here are the seven steps they followed:

Step #1. Conduct market research to develop messaging strategy

In order to attract small startups and entrepreneurs, Tann's team needed to understand what these prospects were looking for in office space -- and what they knew about Regus.

The research project included:
o Demographic analysis of Regus' existing New York tenants, including company size, industry breakdown, etc.
o Analysis of competitors' marketing approach
o Online and social media monitoring of entrepreneurs' conversations around Regus, or office space in general
o A survey of companies with the target prospect profile, asking questions about their perception of Regus

This research produced a key insight: Many entrepreneurs perceived Regus locations as high-end, high-priced, "prestigious" office space, more appropriate for larger businesses than startups.

"These folks might be viewing Regus as higher-end, more costly alternative -- and that's not the case," says Tann. "We had to cover that with the campaign."

To counter this impression, the team decided that its messages should stress that Regus office space was attainable, affordable and in-tune with the needs of startups and entrepreneurs.

Step #2. Create campaign microsite to receive traffic and capture leads

Another insight from the team's pre-campaign market research was that roughly 90% of its prospect inquiries in New York came from search or direct visits to the Regus website. This statistic reinforced the team's decision to create an integrated campaign with a strong online focus.

The team created a campaign microsite to receive traffic and capture leads from its online and offline outreach:

- The microsite, www.regusnewyork.com, used text and imagery that reflected the New York City business environment, to reinforce the local nature of the campaign.

- The site also supported:
o The registration form for an online sweepstakes (described below)
o Links to other campaign creative (described below)
o An offer for two months of free office space with the phone number and link to an online inquiry form

Step #3. Conduct "free office space" sweepstakes

The team created a sweepstakes as one of the anchor elements of the campaign. The contest offered one year of rent-free, furnished office space in a Regus building in New York.

The sweepstakes was designed to:
o Build buzz and generate media attention
o Fit with the campaign's theme of "attainability"
o Provide content to share on social media (more on this tactic, below)

Press outreach and online promotions for the sweepstakes directed visitors to the campaign microsite to enter the contest.

Step #4. Create humorous video series

Another anchor element of the campaign was a series of online videos that positioned Regus as an option for small, startup companies.

The three videos offered a lighthearted take on the problems entrepreneurs and startups face when trying to conduct business without a permanent office.

Scenarios included:
o A small company trying (with great difficulty) to hold a meeting on a subway
o An entrepreneur struggling to work out of a coffee shop
o A startup trying to court an investor in a public park, with disastrous results

The end of each video included a tagline about the need to get "a real office," and presented the phone number and URL for the online inquiry form. The team also included mentions of the office space sweepstakes in text descriptions beneath videos or within on-screen advertisements.

The team promoted the videos in several ways, including:
o A RegusNYC YouTube Channel
o Links shared on social networks
o Email messages to customer and prospect lists
o An advertising buy on Taxi-TV, a network of television monitors in the back of New York City cabs

Step #5. Participate in social networks

The team incorporated social media as a key channel to spread word about the sweepstakes and videos -- and to engage with their entrepreneurial prospect base.

The team created new accounts and developed specific communication strategies for the following social networks:

- Facebook

The team used its Regus NYC Facebook page to share news and promote discussions about business, entrepreneurship and work life. The page was updated two to three times a week, and posts included links to interesting articles, resources and events for the New York City business community.

- Twitter

The team created a Twitter account to act as a resource for New York entrepreneurs. Like the Facebook page, the Twitter feed shared links to articles and resources for business people, alongside occasional reminders about the sweepstakes and online videos. The team updated its Twitter feed several times a day.

- LinkedIn

Rather than creating a corporate LinkedIn group, the team chose to interact with existing, relevant LinkedIn groups.

Using her personal account, Tann joined LinkedIn Groups dedicated to New York small business networking, or for specific New York industries, such as accounting and law. She then participated in discussions, or responded to individual user's questions about topics relevant to Regus, such as discussions of how much small businesses should spend on office space.

Step #6. Sponsor in-person events for entrepreneurs

The team also participated in old fashioned, in-person networking with its target audience by sponsoring nine business events in New York City.

Rather than hosting the events themselves, the team partnered with established small business organizations in the city, such as:
o NY Tech Meetups
o Gotham Media Ventures

Those groups hosted networking events at Regus office facilities in Manhattan, which brought prospects into Regus facilities and gave the team's sales representatives a chance to network with the target audience.

Step #7. Monitor response and track leads from all channels

With so many campaign elements in play, the team had to carefully measure and track response during and after the 90-day campaign.

Measurement tactics included:

- Tracking requests generated through the inquiry form on Regus' New York webpage. The online form included a drop-menu for prospects to specify how they heard about Regus.

- Tracking entries into the office space sweepstakes. These names were not handed directly to the sales team, but marked for future nurturing campaigns, so the sales team would not be inundated with unqualified leads.

- Measuring the source of visits to the sweepstakes microsite.

- Measuring clicks on YouTube ads, Facebook posts and Twitter updates.

- Using unique phone numbers for the calls-to-action related to the New York campaign. The call center team was also instructed to ask callers how they had heard about Regus.

- Conducting weekly calls with the sales team to track offline impact of the campaign. For example, if a representative in one of the Manhattan locations met a prospect who said they'd seen a Taxi-TV ad, the marketing team could gather that anecdote as an evidence of the buzz generated by the campaign.


RESULTS


Changing both the medium and the message paid off for Tann's team, as the campaign exceeded expectations.

After the 90 day campaign, the team saw:
o An overall 30% increase in lead flow, spiking to 60% during the height of the campaign
o A 33% conversion rate on leads generated through their New York webpage, compared to a 12% conversion rate in 2008
o A 114% increase in revenue generated, compared to the same period the year before

"It was a wildly successful campaign that gave us the freedom and approval to do this on a larger scale," says Tann.

Thanks to the success of the New York campaign, the team has rolled out similar efforts in other markets around the U.S. They've been able to repurpose the online video and develop free office space sweepstakes in other cities, and have begun a national social media strategy to connect Regus with prospects.

"Truth be known, this is something I wanted to try on national level for some time with Regus," says Tann. "This was my testing zone to prove it in one market, before selling internally."

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from Regus' integrated campaign

Members Library -- Be Helpful, Attract Prospects: 6 Social Marketing Tactics

Members Library -- Generate Leads with Social Media Strategy: 6 Steps to Fill Up Sales Funnel

Affect Strategies developed strategy and helped execute the campaign

View the videos on Regus New York's YouTube Channel

Regus



See Also:

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