Sometimes when you give a little, you get a lot. This was certainly the case for Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE).
The 100-year-old business technology company approached TopRank Marketing with a burgeoning idea: develop a recognition program for IT network and IT enterprise communications leaders. By doing so, they hoped to increase visibility and engagement across key verticals, but they needed the support and expertise to get it off the ground.
Being a company steeped in innovation, ALE looked to TopRank Marketing to create something unlike anything they had ever done before—a new type of program that would engage the next generation of IT professionals. Soon, a robust influencer content marketing strategy turned a simple idea into a flagship recognition program: the IT Vanguard Awards.
The results? By honoring the great work being done by IT professionals, ALE drove awareness, engagement, and positive brand experiences that led to new prospect conversations with six-figure new business potential.
Building the IT Vanguards Award Program Campaign
On the surface, building a campaign strategy for an awards program seems pretty simple.
- Develop the campaign hook and program identity
- Promote the program to gain nominations
- Collect nominations
- Review the nominations
- Select the honorees
- Announce and promote the honorees
Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
The Hook: Branding the Awards Program
Any first-time marketing initiative is a testing ground; it’s a pilot project that blends best practices and innovative thinking. Ultimately, the goal is to not only reach your original objectives, but also determine whether the initiative can be part of your long-term marketing strategy.
From the beginning, we envisioned this awards campaign having legs beyond the inaugural year so ALE could continue to build awareness and engagement for years to come. That meant we needed to establish a brand and a creative hook that would resonate with our audience and stand the test of time.
ALE’s brand and technology offerings are built to make connections of all kinds possible for their customers. That coupled with the company’s solid 100-year reputation led us to define key campaign themes: Prestige, business innovation, and customer experience.
After several collaborative brainstorming sessions, we determined that this recognition program would honor IT leaders who were leaving the status quo behind to achieve better business outcomes and improve customer experiences. These leaders would be dubbed IT Vanguards.
The Marketing Strategy: A Phased Approach
Given the nature of the program, the TopRank Marketing team developed a two-phased campaign strategy to bring clear focus to a logistically difficult endeavor. The first phase was designed to generate awareness around the inaugural award program and garner nominations. The second phase would build on program awareness and highlight the work, expertise, and insights of our chosen honorees.
A custom-built, interactive landing page was the destination for both phases, designed to make it easy for people to nominate in Phase 1. The landing page was refreshed in Phase 2 to showcase the 11 honorees insights on how they’ve found success, as well as judges commentary on what defines an IT Vanguard and industry trends.
To drive qualified prospects to the landing page, our overall tactical mix was incredibly robust, with tactics being tailored to the different stages. Some of the tactics included:
- Brand employee social
- Paid brand social
- Honoree social
- Outreach to relevant third-party organizations such as industry associations
- Press releases
- LinkedIn Pulse content
- Blog content
But a defining piece of the marketing pie was the addition of credible third-party voices: A judging panel featuring industry experts and influencers. The use of influencers was an important strategic consideration for several reasons:
- Credibility: The five-judge panel included four experts from outside of ALE’s walls. This was important to make it clear that this award was meant to be objective and inclusive.
- Reach: The judges helped promote our call for nominations across their networks in Phase 1 and spread the good news in Phase 2.
- Relevance: Our judges had relevant insight and expertise in the IT network and enterprise communications field, which helped ensure the honorees represented the tenants of an IT Vanguard.
Campaign Results Beyond Expectations
Early on, the ALE and TopRank Marketing teams knew that proper planning and targeting was crucial to reach our objectives. And the overall results have been astounding:
- 52 quality, relevant nominations secured in Phase 1
- Nearly 14,000 combined landing page views during roughly 10 weeks of promotion (Six weeks for Phase 1; four weeks for Phase 2), with paid social playing a major role in Phase 1’s awareness efforts
- 100% influencer judges amplification across social channels
- 100% honoree engagement (e.g. direct conversations with the ALE and TopRank Marketing teams, social sharing, internal sharing)
- Third-party recognition of the honorees’ prestigious achievement, including press releases and special ceremonies held by the honorees’ local governments, school boards, and companies.
- Multiple sales qualified prospects, with new business potential in the six-figures.
“I am a firm believer that none of us can do great things alone. I really pushed the TopRank Marketing team hard. They stuck with me throughout this project and encouraged me at every turn. This project could not have been done without them and we are delighted to see how impactful this program has been in such a noisy, competitive market.”
— Jen Holtvluwer, Director of Marketing and Inside Sales, ALE
The Next Phase
Based on the success of the 2019 program, ALE is envisioning this as an annual award to recognize IT leaders. TopRank Marketing and ALE are already discussing ways to make the IT Vanguards program an even greater success in 2020.
The success of this program is testament to a solid strategy and the strength of social influence. TopRank Marketing can design and implement an influencer content program that celebrates your industry, promotes thought leaders, and amplifies your brand. For more information on our influencer marketing services or to get started, contact us today.