"Working with Chief Outsiders has completely changed our marketing strategy, allowing us to become much closer to our customers, maximize our assets and improve business results." - Gretchen Luchsinger, President, Infocast
Information Forecast, Inc. (Infocast) seeks to transform markets in pioneering industries such as renewable energy, power markets, advanced manufacturing and logistics by bringing the right people together at conferences and events organized around the right content. Rapid growth and a desire to update its marketing strategy highlighted the need for a database overhaul. Capitalizing on the data analytics and marketing strategy expertise of Chief Outsiders CMO, Sharon Spooler, Infocast increased customer engagement, staff collaboration, website conversions and projected meeting attendance.
For 30-years, Infocast has created content-driven business-to-business conferences in pioneering fields such as renewable energy, power markets, advanced manufacturing, and omni-channel logistics. This privately owned company is passionate about improving lives and creating communities of learning, and prides itself on intellectual integrity.
Steady but unremarkable growth over the past five years prompted leadership to reevaluate their marketing strategy. They sought a partner to help them leverage data to better understand customers and build upon existing offerings and capabilities.
Data Needed to Expand
Gretchen Luchsinger, President of Infocast, explains, “We recognized the need to expand our offerings beyond conferences but didn't have the right analytics or understanding of our expansive database to make that happen. We tended to cast a wide net with fairly limited understanding of our customers.”
Infocast reached out to database consultants, but those companies lacked the marketing strategy expertise that Luchsinger wanted. Hearing about Chief Outsiders through a board member, Infocast’s owners were impressed with the depth of their experience.
A Tribe of Experts
Infocast first engaged Chief Outsiders CMO, Sharon Spooler to lead a company mission, vision and values workshop. She found that Spooler had the data analytics, management consulting, leadership and training experience that Infocast required.
Luchsinger also saw that she would have access to a tribe of experts with a variety of strengths, including branding, content marketing, technology and social media. “There is a lot of talent to draw from,” she stated. “Chief Outsiders consultants are available to give second or third opinions and that was attractive to us.”
Once fully engaged at Infocast, Spooler collaborated with staff and frequently counseled with the owners. She managed outside contractors for database and website development, and guided projects to completion.
“Sharon grasped our issues right away and came up with effective strategies, suggestions and solutions,” remarked Luchsinger. “She's been positively received by everyone here.”
A Mountain of Knowledge
After interviewing event designers, the company’s intellectual assets, Spooler noted the staff’s keen understanding of the industries they served and their positive relationships with industry insiders. A comparison of competitors’ positioning and product offerings yielded additional insight.
“One of the first things she recognized was that we are sitting on a mountain of knowledge and information that we should be using in ways other than just meetings and conferences,” related Luchsinger.
Understanding the Customer
Spooler conducted staff training on personas, the buyer’s journey and other marketing concepts. The understanding acquired informed strategy and helped event designers develop meetings with increased customer focus.
“My primary role was to get Infocast’s information organized to increase understanding of their customer, apply that understanding to messaging, and leverage their internal capability to improve their marketing,” she stated.
“Sharon was helpful in identifying and working with the people that we have, figuring out their strengths, and how best to use them to jumpstart effective marketing,” added Luchsinger.
Leveraging the Data and Existing Assets
Spooler applied her expertise to completely overhaul the data and increase the understanding of Infocast’s customers. Fixing the data enabled the marketing team to develop differentiated messaging and targeted outbound marketing.
“Previously, Infocast sent out a lot of direct mail and email and made a lot of calls to prospective customers,” explained Spooler. “Now that they have a streamlined customer database they'll know at the customer level the impact of their campaigns and the ROI of their marketing investments.”
The marketing plan developed included the following elements:
- Fully utilize existing intellectual assets and informative content to drive year-round customer engagement.
- Shift from outbound to a mix of outbound and inbound marketing activities.
- Employ refined data and analytics to enhance messaging and the content of customer-focused events.
- Develop a new website that provided the technical ability to execute an updated marketing plan.
- Identify new segments and potential meetings with analytics, social media and input provided via a new company website.
“Now we have a better understanding of segmenting, who our customers are and how we can approach them based on how they're responding to particular messaging,” related Luchsinger.
“Differentiated messaging based on customer and competitor analysis creates strategic brand affiliation and will grow inbound and organic traffic,” added Spooler.
Executing the Plan
Spooler worked closely with Luchsinger and the Infocast team to implement the changes in strategy. A content marketing conference and a training session with a Chief Outsiders content expert prepared the staff to leverage a pile of existing content effectively.
Revised tactics incorporated more targeted messaging and expanded efforts to engage customers year-round:
- Reassign event designers to function as year-round subject matter experts.
- Reorganize project teams to cut across departments, removing inefficient silos.
- Add website landing pages tailored for individual meetings.
- Create customer-focused content for website and social media plan.
- Leverage existing relationships to promote and amplify content.
- Shift email and direct marketing distribution to an external service provider.
- Test website and direct mail messaging to better inform meetings.
- Test pay per click banner and search advertising.
Luchsinger praised Spooler’s direction of the revised marketing plan. "Sharon's a very good communicator. She explains what we're doing and why and the reasons for it, and everybody recognized what the priorities were.”
Year-Round Customer Engagement
Infocast now sees where customers engage year-round with website and social media content. With a deeper understanding of their markets, event designers identify new topics and schedule more targeted and effective meetings.
Luchsinger expects customer engagement to build as new content is curated and maintained. “As we start building up a following, closer customer relationships will lead to increased meeting size, attendance and sponsorship,” she explained.
Increased Inquiries and Attendance
Luchsinger reports that since implementing the content marketing and website changes, inbound website traffic has grown and website inquiries have increased 100-fold.
“Now we're getting 20 inquiries per week,” Luchsinger shared enthusiastically. “In the past we might get one or two per meeting. That's an astronomical increase!” She expects the high level of interest in potential topics and future meetings to drive an increase in attendance.
Increased Output and Morale
Cross-department collaboration on projects fostered a positive team atmosphere. Luchsinger also observed increased energy among staff members, boosting the teams’ output and morale.
She personally enjoyed the association with Spooler. “Having a peer to bounce things off of isn't common when you're the president,” she related. “Discussing marketing, overall strategy and organization with Sharon has been extremely helpful.”
Cost-effective Marketing Expertise
Spooler’s training and hands-on approach obviated the need to hire additional marketing staff, keeping costs down. The quality of the marketing team’s output also increased due to the infusion of expertise.
Luchsinger expects the enhanced customer focus and more effective use of intellectual assets to offset the cost of the engagement. “While we are seeing leading indicators that prove we’ll accomplish much more, simply growing meeting attendance by 5 percent will more than pay for what Infocast invested in the whole project.”
With increased customer engagement, a re-invigorated staff and intellectual assets leveraged to support an updated content marketing strategy, Gretchen Luchsinger, President of Infocast, has no reservations about endorsing Chief Outsiders.
“Having Sharon Spooler onsite, facilitating the process as we articulated our thoughts around a new customer strategy, proved to be extremely valuable. I would definitely recommend Chief Outsiders to any business with issues on multiple fronts.”