Even the strongest brands look to identify new ways to create surround sound in the marketplace. For products or organizations trying to amplify their message to as many people as possible, partnerships act as a megaphone – bringing in new customers and creating brand ‘believers.’
For the past three years, Moore Communications Group has leveraged partnerships and third-party endorsements on behalf of our client, the Florida Prepaid College Board, to educate families about the importance of college savings and generate sales of Florida Prepaid’s tuition and 529 savings plans.
The power of an influential third-party stamp of approval is vital to driving customers’ purchase decision and building brand trust. Just think about how often you have tried a product, joined an organization, or even saw a movie, based on the recommendation or experience of someone you trust.
The goal here is to reach potential customers where they are. By aligning with like-minded brands and engaging with thought leaders, organizations can reap the benefits of communicating with target audiences through trusted sources.
The success of the recently ended Open Enrollment period drove home the value of these partnerships. At least 18 percent of total Prepaid Plan sales came as a result of partnerships and engagement with:
- Education foundations
- Early Learning Coalitions
- Financial advisors
- Professional Sports teams
- School fundraising organizations
But building successful partnerships is not automatic. There are three key elements that make a partnership or third-party endorsement work.
- Value: Make sure you get the maximum value for your brand out of your partnerships. As the brand investing in the partnership, you should leverage that position to negotiate the partnership elements that will serve your brand best. For Florida Prepaid, for example, we created a menu of partnership deliverables that local education foundations could choose from – digital promotion, collateral distribution in schools, special events, etc. We knew what Prepaid needed and wanted, and we built a partnership that delivered. These foundations helped drive 150 Plan sales, for a minimal investment.
- Authenticity: Choose your influencers based on how authentic they are to your brand. Otherwise, it flops. If you’re a mom, it makes sense that paying for your child’s education is on your list of ‘things to worry about.’ So leveraging the social platforms and digital ‘megaphone’ of influential bloggers was a no-brainer. These bloggers have their own college savings experiences to share, and because they are committed to helping their readers, they want to share information about college savings. So when they blog about the Florida Prepaid College Board, it rings true and resonates. Our blogger campaign helped drive nearly 6,000 plan sales this year, for a minimal investment.
- Layers: We have intentionally established multiple partnerships that overlap in ‘buckets’ such as youth and family sporting events, classrooms, financial advisors and school administrators. Brand recognition requires repetition, and it often takes multiple exposures before a consumer is driven to action. We want families to see Florida Prepaid in an email from the school principal, as well as at a basketball game, and again on a flier announcing an arts contest sponsored by Florida Prepaid and the Orange Bowl. That strategic repetition keeps Florida Prepaid top of mind, and provides multiple opportunities for them to act.
A total of 38,706 Plans were sold. This marked a total plan sales increase of 2.6% from the previous year, and an increase of 1.3% in Plan holders. This came two years after a total plan sales increase of 219.9% from the previous year, surpassing the set goal by 20,557 plans. These numbers are pretty remarkable given the ‘noise’ of the Presidential election that overshadowed many of our go-to earned and paid media opportunities.