Blueprint for Success: The House That Network Built
When it comes to tackling housing issues, not everybody in Washington wears only red or blue. Begun in 2007 by a group of former U.S. Senate majority leaders, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a Washington non-profit that seeks to align politically balanced policymaking with robust issue advocacy and outreach.
The BPC calls itself “the only Washington, DC-based think tank that actively promotes bipartisanship.” The organization develops policy solutions in such areas as health, energy, the economy, housing, and immigration, drawing on the expertise of former government officials, business and labor leaders, academics and advocates “representing both ends of the political spectrum.”
In early 2014, the BPC had begun planning its first Housing Summit in Washington, D.C. in the fall of that year. It was to be a gathering of 1,000 key influential specialists and decision-makers from the housing, construction, financial, and public policy arenas.
When the BPC approached Network for help in building the Summit’s attendance, the Network marketing team immediately saw some hurdles.
“As with any first-time event, building awareness among prospective attendees and actually booking pre-registrations was going to be key to the success of the Summit,” said Lisa Feldner, Network Media Partners’ Director of Marketing and Events.
“A number of key players were already in place for the project to build awareness among prospective speakers and sponsors,” she said, “But the marketing plan to reach prospects needed more focus on a compelling value proposition and key message placements to reach the BPC’s audiences.”
In short, while the foundation of the house had been laid, the client wasn’t prepared to get the walls up or the roof on in time.
“The BPC had a lot at stake,” said Jeff Selway, Network’s Marketing Special Projects Lead. “Because the event focused on housing—one of their issue areas—healthy attendance at the Summit was critical.”
Led by Selway, Network’s project team took a careful, step-by-step approach with a proven blueprint to persuade the BPC’s ideal target audience to attend the Housing Summit. Network’s strategy was to focus the BPC’s communications on the “right” audience—what they needed to hear, where they needed to hear it, what would motivate them to respond—even when the messages weren’t entirely within the client’s comfort zone.
To help the BPC reach their goal of 1,000 paid attendees, Network recommended a refreshed marketing plan to build awareness among key publics. Traditional media placements would direct prospects to a compelling landing page prior to the registration process.
“As with any first-time event, building awareness among prospective attendees and actually booking pre-registrations was going to be key to the success of the Summit.”
– Lisa Feldner, CMP
Director of Marketing and Events, Network Media Partners
“Week after week, we researched, planned, and then executed the necessary steps to build attendance,” said Selway. “We used a sophisticated marketing automation tool to build, segment, and target our various publics, and also to evaluate results and make real time course corrections to keep the project on track until the finish.”
“Network recommended steps that we hadn’t thought about,” said Pamela Patenaude, Director of Housing Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, “such as reaching out to the front lines of our target audiences—home builders and mortgage lenders, for instance. This ensured that our attendee profile would reflect a balance between policy specialists and industry practitioners.”
Another part of Network’s job was to build upon the foundation BPC had already laid. The project team incorporated some of the pieces already in place, such as the plans for social media. They worked with the BPC team to highlight the existing event website, while adding new messaging aimed at the target audiences for the event. Network reached deeper into the BPC’s prospects pool using a toolbox of customized email marketing strategies and a robust, well-targeted media plan for the DC Metro Area and the Mid-Atlantic.
Like any good architect and builder, the Network marketing team held regular meetings with BPC contacts to provide transparency on the results of following the revised blueprint.
And the results were beyond successful: More than a thousand participants (over 14% higher than targeted) from a variety of backgrounds, political persuasions, and industries attended. Like the flag that traditionally flies over a successful construction site, the 2014 BPC Housing Summit was proudly red, white, and blue.
“The Summit was truly that,” said the BPC’s Pam Patenaude. “We were proud of the spirited and diverse discussions we hosted as a result of the revised audience profile. Our attendees, speakers, and sponsors were very happy.”
“Week after week, we researched, planned, and then executed the necessary steps to build attendance. We used a sophisticated marketing automation tool to build, segment, and target our various publics, and also to evaluate results and make real time course corrections to keep the project on track until the finish.”
– Jeff Selway, Marketing Special Projects Lead
Network Media Partners