If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, life goes on. However, if your brand falls on deaf ears, the consequences will only benefit your competition.
New York Cider Association:
Bringing Cider Week to WNY
Considering that New York is the second-largest apple producer in the country, it comes as no surprise that Western New Yorkers love hard cider and embrace it as a part of the local food culture. Looking to break into the Western New York market to launch their inaugural Cider Week event, the New York Cider Association teamed up with FARM and Pathfinder.
Beyond the objective of generating event attendance, the New York Cider Association also made it their goal to further educate cider drinkers in the area about hard cider benefits and dispel common misconceptions along the way. As market researchers, Pathfinder set out to collect data for consumer perception of cider—including how it’s served and consumed.
The challenge in this campaign was to spread awareness of the event and spark interest for attendance. Further, FARM and Pathfinder needed to collaborate on the project to craft a cohesive campaign to entice and educate the local community.
Building upon existing brand standards, we updated creative and developed an integrated media campaign to help promote events across a ten-day period. FARM secured paid digital ads as well as television and radio broadcast, print, and social media coverage to optimize ROI.
The campaign was considered an “unprecedented success”—delivering a 50% boost in attendance compared to previous years’ events, and a measured 24% positive impact on consumer perception of hard cider. Cheers to that!
“With FARM’s support on market research, media planning, public relations, design and content, the New York Cider Association was able to launch a promotional festival to unprecedented success, despite being in a new market for us. FARM helped us focus our resources on high ROI advertising channels, get the messaging right for the community, and measure the impact of our effort. Thanks to FARM’s advice and efforts on our behalf, Cider Week saw a 50% lift in attendance at key events staged in previous years, and a 24% increase in consumer understanding what hard cider is. What’s more, the entire team is curious, kind, and efficient. I look forward to working on future projects with FARM and would encourage anyone working on marketing in WNY in the farm-based food and craft beverage space to engage with them for optimal impact.”
Research and Rebrand Launch Campaign
The team at Unyts was considering a rebrand but first wanted to understand whether the “Unyts” name helped achieve their business goals, including providing operational support for its four internal business units. They partnered with Pathfinder who conducted market research (surveys and focus groups) to help provide a clear direction forward.
The research indicated that while the name “Unyts” had considerable awareness in the market, there was little understanding of what the organization did. The results also revealed that the organization was lacking cohesion internally. Armed with this information, the company determined it was time to rebrand—including a name change—and enlisted FARM for support.
FARM further evaluated the research and developed name and logo options, which were then panel-tested. ConnectLife was the clear winner.
Building off insights from the research, FARM began mapping out a communications strategy to meet three primary objectives:
- Generate awareness of the new brand
- Educate on the vast lifesaving and life-enhancing services provided
- Highlight the impact to the community and beyond
The team created target personas, an optimum channel strategy, messaging and creative, and rolled that into an executable wave-based marketing plan consisting of:
- Branded presentation and brand guidelines with key messaging to align the team internally
- Earned media: Press conference announcing rebrand to public
- Paid media: Broadcast TV and radio spots, outdoor, digital/social ads
- Mobile blood vehicle wraps
- Sports sponsorship activation (Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, University at Buffalo, Buffalo State College)
With the awareness campaign running through 2019, FARM is currently in the process of developing a campaign to support ConnectLife’s community blood donation services in 2020. Some initial results achieved include:
- Extensive media coverage, with a total earned media value nearly 15 times the client’s investment.
- Successful activations of Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres sponsorships
- Extremely positive feedback from the community (especially key hospital partners), donor families, and internal staff
Forrest T. Jones & Company:
Digital Prospect Communications
Forrest T. Jones & Company (FTJ), an insurance agency and administrator, chose FARM to help them educate prospects and increase sales of educator professional liability insurance. This coverage protects educators’ assets in the event of a work-related lawsuit.
The objective of this campaign was to seek new customers and educate them about the benefits of purchasing the policy. Over the past five years, sales had plateaued between 580 and 670 policies a year. The goal for this campaign was a 15 percent increase in sales, or 700+ policies sold.
Affinity insurance marketing has its limitations and challenges.
- The market is limited to only members of professional associations that participate in the trust.
- The associations can opt out of participation in promotion of certain products.
- Associations limit the number of emails that can be sent to only two per member per year.
- Educators often don’t believe they will ever need this product, making it a tough sell.
FARM’s approach was to try something more immersive than a typical email solicitation. FARM created a mobile-friendly, online quiz called, “Safe or Sorry?” and promoted it via email and social media to each member. Each message challenged members to “put your professional liability knowledge to the test.”
The game provided examples of educators who had been sued for professional wrongdoing and tested the knowledge of members in an enjoyable way. At the end of the quiz, the player received a letter grade, a humorous comment, and a call to action to “enroll today” with a link to the online application.
Overall, the campaign was a huge success. FTJ enjoyed a 44.2% increase in sales equating to 844 policies sold, far exceeding their sales goal. The total annual premium from the campaign was up 38.3% from the previous year, and the total annual premium to marketing cost (TAP/MC) ratio was a very healthy 6.2.
The campaign more than paid for itself in the first year. Taking the average renewal rate into consideration, the campaign will generate nearly $400,000 in lifetime premiums.
Graycliff: Brand and Communications Evolution
Graycliff, a Frank Lloyd Wright property outside of Buffalo, New York, needed a brand refresh to drive visitor traffic. Upon analyzing their visitor surveys, we learned that Graycliff’s communications didn’t do enough to distinguish Graycliff from the Darwin D. Martin House—Wright’s other landmark Buffalo property. In addition to evolving Graycliff’s identity to convey a more contemporary look and feel, we expanded the narrative using video to highlight its rich history and deployed an aggressive PR campaign to earn local media coverage. The result has been a sustained increase in visitors.
Website Messaging, Design, and Development to Increase Sales
On the heels of a foundational research study conducted by Pathfinder, HomeNet wanted to turn insights into action. Looking for a partner up to the challenge of redesigning and developing their entire website, they turned to FARM. HomeNet, a provider of automotive solutions, needed their website to speak to two audiences—dealers and their partners—in a way that would generate more leads.
With improved functionality focused on the user experience, the new website offers more opportunities for the audience to explore solutions, customize their tools, and easily request a personalized demo at any time. The next phases of website development will continue to position HomeNet as an authority in automotive merchandising and further audience engagement to increase sales.
Lake Shore Savings Bank:
Wave-based Communications Strategy
FARM evaluated and revised the marketing communications strategy and media spend of Lake Shore Savings Bank in order to increase awareness of the bank’s brand and promote its financial products in the Western New York area.
Our analysis of Lake Shore Savings Bank’s strategy revealed that, while the bank was already buying media in the appropriate channels, its repetitive creative approach was not positioning the bank to maximize its share of voice within the market. In order to differentiate Lake Shore Savings Bank from its competition, drive product line growth, and increase brand awareness and branch traffic, FARM devised a wave-based, multi-channel communications strategy. This strategy aligned both the channel and frequency of Lake Shore Savings Bank’s marketing around a specific campaign or promotion, using coordinated messaging across television, radio, print, and digital advertising.
Each campaign was boosted by turning off all advertising for the bank between waves, which resulted in a bigger splash in the market when the next wave began. In each wave, we modernized the creative with more lighthearted and approachable copy. We also made clearer calls to action to drive consumers to a dedicated landing page providing more information for each campaign. In 2018, these campaigns resulted in $12 million in new savings accounts and $13 million in new residential loan applications.
Xtime: Spectrum Product Line
With their new product, Spectrum, Xtime wasn’t just launching a new, integrated service retention solution to dealerships, they were introducing an entirely new approach to driving owner loyalty. So we got to work on giving Spectrum its name, its story, and a bold identity that we tested through focus groups in four U.S. cities. The result was a dynamic and compelling launch campaign orchestrated in time for a key national convention.
Cox Automotive Brand, vAuto:
Adding a Fresh Voice to an Industry Leader
Across the automotive industry, vAuto is a dominant voice of authority, based on innovative thinking and product development, a range of software solutions, and genuine dedication to the success of its dealership clients. While marketing efforts to date have been focused on vAuto’s sub-brands, few communications have been developed exclusively for vAuto as the parent brand.
vAuto asked for our help in crafting a compelling message conveying the value of vAuto and what it stands for in the market. The brand refresh and communication strategy we produced was focused on illuminating vAuto’s strength and true value. Specifically, that vAuto serves to help dealers be more successful through not only product development, but also thought leadership and expert guidance—all to cultivate longstanding partnerships built on empathy, understanding, and trust.
vAuto faces a heightened level of competition in the market, especially in the inventory management category. While vAuto is perceived by many as the market leader (and sometimes referred to as the definition of the category), some dealers feel that competitors offer similar, if not identical, solutions at a lower price. Some dealers will knowingly tolerate less functionality and a weaker user experience from a competitive product if it costs less. That was another goal of the branding work, shifting the conversation from an outlay in cost to an investment in value to blunt competitive threats.
Through a collaborative process, we curated “Never Idle,” a new brand position for vAuto that we helped them unveil at the annual National Automotive Dealer’s Association event in February 2020. As their Agency of Record, we produced event marketing materials and developed the trade show booth creative.
While we continue to roll out this new branding initiative across the business, its initial leveraging helped secure:
- 455 unique conversations with dealers about vAuto products
- 407 demos of vAuto products with dealers
- 134% fulfillment of event sales goals