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What Don Draper didn't know: Running customer-led marketing campaigns

Companies across different industries have discovered that customer-led marketing campaigns increase conversion and grow the lifetime value of their customers. But unlike Don Draper, they didn’t have to swill scotch at an agency to deliver impactful marketing results.

At the 2017 Customer Intelligence Summit, Aurora Health Care, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and PBS shared how they collaborate with customers to deliver the right messages through the right channels at the right time.

1. Personalize the experience

Drop the one-size-fits-all approach, said Darrell Beneker, Aurora Health Care’s director of consumer insights. He said marketers and insight pros need to start thinking about the different segments of consumers they wish to reach, and then personalize their messaging and efforts towards each group.

When recruiting new members for Aurora Health Care’s insight community, for instance, Beneker and his team identified specific segments they wanted to engage and tailored the messaging for each. When thinking about different audiences, don’t just think about demographics, you need to start thinking about attitudinal segmentation and how each segment approaches healthcare, said Beneker.

Taking a personalized approach is working well for Aurora. Using patient feedback from its community, the health care provider is able to launch numerous successful initiatives.

2. Build relationships with your stakeholders

At SMUD—Sacramento, California’s community-owned, not-for profit electric service provider—market research sits within the marketing team, revealed principal market research specialist Susan Corbelli. That makes it easier to collaborate with marketers and employ customer-centric campaign tactics. Adopting an experimental mindset is key to increasing adoption, said Corbelli. For example, she would convince stakeholders to do low-risk, no-cost experiments in the organization’s award-winning insight community to showcase the value and speed of the platform.

PBS, meanwhile, has monthly meetings with key internal stakeholders and gets back to them with ideas based on what they learned, said director of custom research Susan Frazier. She said making a real effort to spending time with stakeholders and listening to them is a crucial first step to understanding how ongoing customer feedback can help them.

Similarly, Beneker and his team at Aurora Health Care keep the communications channel open by hosting quarterly Lunch 'n' Learn sessions and sharing information in their Marketing and Communications bi-weekly e-newsletter. Beneker’s advice: take a sales-person’s mentality when engaging with stakeholders, be proactive, collaborate and reach out often.

3. Keep your internal stakeholders engaged

Getting stakeholders involved is one thing, keeping them engaged is another.

Beneker said giving stakeholders some high-level preliminary results during data collection works better than waiting until the end of a long research project. Aurora also allows internal stakeholders to view live online discussions in its insight community to hear from patients first hand. All final insights are presented face-to-face, regardless of how big or small the project.

Similarly, PBS either issues reports or has a sit-down conversation depending on the internal stakeholders to walk through the insight, said Frazier. SMUD keeps stakeholders in the loop with quarterly newsletters and eblasts.

4. Take a staged approach to tackling

Corbelli said it’s important to start small. Every study is a learning moment for SMUD, and your efforts don’t have to be perfect the first time. She recommends trying something and refining it, and continually building on what you learn from it.

Take advantage of getting community feedback early, said Frazier. PBS digs into how viewers might think of a specific topic, solicits feedback about the promotions and then posts analyses of what viewers thought of a program.

Taking the time to build the relationship is the key to making things work, she said, and it’s important not to shy away from areas where people could be difficult, as it builds confidence in the researcher’s expertise and ability to understand what the internal stakeholders need.

5. Think about your other brand ambassadors–your employees

Both Aurora and SMUD are are investing more in employee engagement because they see their staff as another valuable relationship to nurture. Beneker shared that Aurora is involving multiple teams, including talent and organization development and marketing and Communications, as it establishes its employee insight community. The organization believes that its 33,000 employees would be an important source of feedback as well as a great channel to create buzz for many of its innovative programs.

By applying many best practices they’ve learned running customer insight communities, Aurora and SMUD are both confident that they’ll be able to run successful employee communities that deliver insight and ROI.