Creating A Winning B2B Integrated Marketing Campaign

How do you turn a quiet, sales-driven organization into a B2B marketing powerhouse?

Consider of story of Lincoln Financial Group, a traditionally sales-centric organization, which over the last year also became a marketing maven. The 106-year-old financial services, insurance, and annuities company roared out with a new integrated marketing campaign that has turned it into a media and marketing darling. Among other kudos, the company in September 2012 was named Communicator of the Year by the Business Marketing Association of New York.

Credit Jamie DePeau, the company’s corporate chief marketing officer, who came on board about a year ago from TIAA-CREF and brought a strategic marketing focus with her. While Lincoln was already tacking in a new direction before DePeau took the helm, DePeau introduced an integrated marketing approach to PR, advertising, and social media.

Lincoln Financial had previously conducted research showing that the more people take charge of their lives, including their finances, the better they feel about the direction of their lives.

Based on insights from that research, Lincoln Financial, working with its agency, gyro, developed a "Chief Life Officer" campaign geared to empowering consumers by appealing to their optimism and ability to take charge of their lives. Previously, Lincoln, which sells its products through intermediaries such as employers, advisers, and agents, had focused its sights on the middlemen rather than the end user consumer.

"On launch day, our new campaign promoted everyone to chief executive officer of his or her own life. Someone we call the “Chief Life Officer,” said DePeau. "It recognizes the fact that our lives are in many ways like businesses. We’re in charge of making big decisions, managing finances and keeping employee morale positive. The main message we wanted to get across is that you’re the boss of your life, and Lincoln Financial is here to help you take charge. "

Following on the heels of the launch DePeau commissioned additional research. To Lincoln Financial’s surprise, consumers, in particular women, questioned in the MOOD of America Survey expressed more optimism about their abilities to control their futures than Lincoln had anticipated. In fact, the MOOD survey showed that three-quarters of women said they are optimistic about the future compared to two-thirds of men.

Based on insights from the MOOD research, Lincoln Financial developed an integrated campaign of PR, advertising, social media, and educational content, all appealing to Lincoln Financial and women.

"We sometimes think that because we're talking to the business or consumer community, our advertising doesn’t need to be emotionally driven," said DePeau. "You need to do that plus help educate the consumer, as opposed to just talking to them.

"While others in the category seemed to be drawn to using fear in their advertising, we felt the time was right to try a new, more optimistic approach."

Integrating PR, social media, and advertising, the campaign showcased a video of women of all ages showing how they take charge of their lives and provided educational content to help women do just that. The PR focused on the research results. The Chief Life Officer ads continued the "take charge, optimistic theme," which was reinforced in social media.

And how has the integrated campaign done?

In market for about four months, brand awareness is up, according to DePeau, and among those consumers aware of the campaign, all key attributes that drive consideration and purchase behavior have grown by double digits.

Here are 5 tip courtesy of Jamie DePeau on how to create a successful integrated marketing campaign:

  1. Research-based approach: "Every step of the way we researched all of our target audiences and studied competitors to ensure we thoroughly understood the attitudes of Americans post 2008 and expectations for their financial services partner, as well as how to meaningfully differentiate a financial services brand from the competition."
  2. Emotion first: Appeal to emotions as well as reason. Finance is a highly emotional and very personal topic. "We weren’t afraid to approach it that way with our creative and then provide tools and education after the emotional appeal."
  3. Integrated campaign: Public Relations and internal brand communications are as important as advertising.
  4. Media partnerships: Entered into targeted, vertically integrated media partnerships that extended reach while trying new media channels.
  5. Inside out: "Internal branding started first and our November 2011 launch was designed as an employee launch to get employees across the country engaged with the new campaign and become brand ambassadors for Lincoln."

is president of Marx Communications, a B2B PR and Marketing Communications Agency.

[Image: Flickr user Portobeseno]

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5 Comments

  • Wendy Marx

    Very good point, Emily, regarding the need for integration to occur across the organization. However, you need to start somewhere and certainly working to integrate the different parts of a marketing organization is a good place to begin. But, of course, that can't simply be the end point as you wisely note. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  • Emily Howard Griebel

    I can't say I disagree with those 5 steps but I firmly believe that more than campaigns need to be integrated. Marketing integration needs to happen across all departments of a company. In other words, all departments should be focused on customers and work together to create a seamless experience for them.

    Emily Griebel,
    Integration Architect, McKee Wallwork Cleveland
    @MWCemily

  • wendy marx

    It is amazing, isn't it? I think the fact that so many aren't attests to the fact that it takes work to make it happen. Thank you for your insight.

  • Lyndon

    Sorry Wendy, I only just saw your response.  

    It's scary that many PR and marketing companies focus only on social these days. They expect results to be instant and that brands can be created overnight as a result of a viral hit, or Facebook 'campaign'.

    More worrying, they start campaigns without messaging or a plan.  Integrated these days seems to be code for being on every social platform :-s  I fear for the future of my industry!

    Great discussion, so thanks for starting it.  L