One of McKinley’s long-term clients, the International Code Council’s Certification and Testing (C&T) Department, wanted to encourage code enforcement departments to promote certification among their staff. During a brainstorming session with the C&T Department an ICC Marketing Manager and McKinley staff, the idea surfaced to leverage the employers to reinforce the message that certification was important to the industry. Discussion centered on encouraging 100% participation within code departments. The Get Everyone Certified campaign concept was born. The next step was to sort through all of the details. The team discussed how staff members can be certified in different categories and many are eligible for multiple certifications, but other positions do not require certification. Initial drafts focused on a “good of the order” type of message to employers and staff to encourage staff certifications. Then a corporate sponsor came on board and generously provided funding to create a contest and give awards, but also had a few suggestions and requirements. These are the steps McKinley and the ICC team took to launch the campaign that could be applied to your future campaigns.
Retrofitting the Idea
The ICC team created the initial designs and plan for the campaign before the corporate sponsor came on board. The sponsor had certain campaign requirements and the McKinley team advised the C&T department on how to meet or negotiate the corporate sponsor’s requests. We worked together to retrofit the campaign and moved forward with the designs to create the collateral. After a few months on hold waiting to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, we got the final go-ahead. The Get Everyone Certified Campaign was officially underway.
We developed a tactical plan that took into account the approval time needed for both ICC and the corporate sponsor. Because of the high-profile nature of this campaign, we needed to further leverage ICC’s many channels and work with other departments to ensure greater promotion. McKinley worked with the C&T department to discuss processes needed to fulfill the campaign requirements, which included:
- Collecting department and staff names and certifications for the contest
- Confirming eligibility for the contest
- Sending lists of departments to the sponsor for award certificates
- And posting the names of departments and staff members who participated to a website.
The Get Everyone Certified campaign consisted of more than 25 elements that needed to be written, designed, approved by ICC, approved by the sponsor, and implemented. Elements of the campaign included
- three landing pages
- three emails
- official rules for the contest
- print and online ads for internal publications and for conferences
- articles in publications
- talking points for staff
- a press release for recognized departments
- and more.
McKinley collaborated with the C&T department at all stages of implementation: we wrote and revised the copy, worked with the internal ICC designers to ensure both ICC’s and the sponsor’s requirements were met, routed for approvals (and nagged if deadlines weren’t met).
A campaign like this requires a lot of approvals from players at multiple levels at both organizations. Of course the C&T department and corporate sponsor needed to review all of the pieces, but, because of this campaign’s high visibility, approvals were needed at many levels at both organizations. The campaign also needed the expertise of ICC’s designers as well as their web and publications teams. In all, more than 20 people touched this campaign in one way or another.
More Than Just Results
When we launched, we didn’t know what kind of results to expect. We wondered if departments would participate and whether any would be eligible to win the contest. We didn’t need to worry; the campaign was a success in 2013: 140 departments with 655 staff members participated across 33 states. The corporate sponsor was pleased with the visibility of the campaign and the level of participation. The campaign also resulted in broadened awareness of ICC’s certification program.
We learned many tips and tricks while developing and implementing the campaign. There will always been unexpected challenges in a campaign, but asking the right questions can set you up for success.
Here are a few questions to consider when developing a campaign.
- Are you maximizing your reach across your organization’s channels?
- Are you using the right channels for your target audience?
- How can you make your campaign newsworthy among your members and customers?
- Can other departments help grow this campaign? What other departments can add their expertise to the plan?
- Who needs to approve this campaign? Which pieces need to be approved?