Several years ago, the active lifestyle brand LifeSpan hired my agency to launch its line of treadmill desks. Novelty was on our side. When consumers imagined workplace activity, they didn’t usually think past dusty company gyms and sweaty lunchtime jogs. We had something new and different, but if we were successful launching the line, what would happen after the newness wore off? We created an approach that has driven consistent national media results, year after year, with minimal running tweaks, and could be written on one side of a napkin.
Based on what we learned in the process of earning hundreds of millions of consumer impressions, here are six ways to put together a campaign that’s built to last:
1. Use Every New Study as an Opportunity
“Sitting is the new smoking.” “Your desk job is killing you.” “Get out of your chair.” Those were the headlines as we prepared for launch, and are still the headlines today. We’re very lucky major universities are always publishing research on the negative effects of sedentary lifestyles, linking too much sitting with increased risk for serious diseases. We use each new study as an opportunity to engage our extensive editorial contacts at national health, business and technology media outlets, to remind them why this product matters. But we don’t wait for studies to fall into our laps, and we certainly don’t spend hours checking the health and science sections of CNN, or combing through medical journals. We set up a broad set of monitoring terms covering the downsides of being sedentary. If there’s an issue affecting your customer, which your client’s product was designed to help, monitor for that issue poking its head into stories. It doesn’t even need to be a serious issue. For example, we’ve been toying with the idea of monitoring around the post-lunch food coma.
2. Keep Putting the Customers Out Front
The best stories aren’t about products; they’re about people using the products in interesting ways. Some LifeSpan customers purchase their treadmill desks after suffering the adverse effects of sedentary behavior, like heart attacks and blood clots, following the advice of a doctor. Many of their doctors are treadmill desk advocates, as well. These individuals are a running focal point of our campaign, and sharing their stories helps reporters understand this product isn’t simply a gadget; it’s a potential lifesaver. This is where an open line of communication with the sales and customer service teams comes into play. Sales can alert you of big-name or big-quantity orders as they happen. And customer service can forward you emails from super-fans who’ve had their lives changed by the product and are probably willing to go on the record. A constant influx of fresh success stories is key to a sustained campaign’s longevity.
3. Constantly Mine the Company for Employee Stories
From the head of the company down to the mailroom, people within the organization may have personal stories that fit your communications goals. Nearly a year into the campaign, we learned one LifeSpan executive spent a good portion of his career in the office equipment business, at a time when the goal was to eliminate movement. Rather than skimming over this detail, it’s used to illustrate how a trend has been turned on its head. His front row seat to science influencing the reintroduction of physical activity into the workplace makes him an undeniable trend expert. These stories may come from the oldest company veteran to the newest hire. Ask around.
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