Elevation Awards case study: How Quarry won Gold for ‘Best use of account-based marketing’ and ‘Best customer engagement initiative’ for ‘Business-to-ecosystem (‘B2E’) for ZS Associates

Consulting firm ZS had a big story to tell about the future of healthcare, but flew under the radar with executive change-makers. 

To gain mindshare and build new senior relationships, ZS partnered with B2B demand marketing agency, Quarry, to launch an integrated 1:Few ABM campaign targeting 30 high-potential current clients in the biopharma industry. 

To win, the campaign needed to challenge old assumptions, reframe mindsets and introduce a new (and necessary) commercial strategy narrative for the industry - all in a way that led uniquely back to ZS. 

Qualitative interviews unlocked a powerful insight into how biopharma clients saw the world and their role in it. From there, a meaningful new framing was introduced that would anchor and inspire all campaign activity: from business-to-business (B2B) to business-to-ecosystem (B2E). 

Experiences created for this ABM play included account-targeted paid media (Demandbase), content syndication, email, microsite, bespoke whitepaper content and VIP event experiences for senior-level contacts.

In the end, the campaign yielded an enviable 100% account engagement rate, brought in thousands of new senior-level contacts, opened the door for new meetings with CEOs and chief commercial officers at key Fortune 100 pharmaceutical companies, and ultimately influenced a whopping $40 million in net-new 2021 revenue. 

About the client company 

ZS Associates (ZS) is a global professional services firm that works side by side with life science companies and others to help develop and deliver products that drive customer value and company results. ZS has more than 37 years of experience and 11,000-plus ZS-ers in 29 offices worldwide. 

Strategy – broader business issues the company faced

ZS works with the biggest names in pharmaceuticals and biotech. And yet, they had an awareness problem at top accounts.

ZS has formed strong relationships with plenty of director-level contacts - the “doers” at the organizations - but often flew under the radar with executives. The team wanted to engage in conversations at that higher level, particularly with individuals in roles with a broad, strategic focus and the ability to champion or influence large-scale organizational change. Why? Because ZS had a big story to tell about the future of healthcare and biopharma’s unique opportunity to lead the way. 

Together, ZS and Quarry needed to develop an insights-based ABM campaign that would gain executive-level attention, build brand awareness and authority, and ultimately drive demand for ZS’s portfolio of pharmaceutical and biotech offerings amongst a strategic set (n=30) of their highest-potential biopharmaceutical clients. 

To win, the campaign needed to challenge old assumptions, reframe mindsets and introduce a new (and necessary) commercial strategy narrative for the industry - all in a way that led uniquely back to ZS. To get there, a meaningful new framing was introduced that would anchor and inspire all campaign activity: from business-to-business (B2B) to business-to-ecosystem (B2E). 

For context, when pharma steps out of manufacturing and into the commercial space, they leave behind a linear value chain and enter into a complex and dynamic ecosystem of players. Having the courage to shift from a traditional product lifecycle model to a "B2E" approach is essential to success in a patient-centric healthcare future. And ZS is uniquely positioned to help its clients develop a holistic, sustainable B2E strategy—and become a confident, active and involved participant in the healthcare ecosystem. 

Objectives of the campaign 

The campaign had three main objectives:

  1. Build relationships with new senior-level contacts at existing client accounts. 
  2. Elevate ZS’s profile and reputation as a strategic thought-leader in biopharma. 
  3. Increase ZS’s long-term, strategic revenue opportunities in the biopharma sector. 

The target audience 

  • Geographic/Firmographic: 30 existing, high potential ZS customer accounts, all enterprise sized, all located across the US, all in the biopharmaceutical sector.
  • Role: C-Suite (in particular, chief commercial officers) to VPs (VP commercial operations, VP sales, VP global marketing, business unit heads, VP market access, VP patient advocacy).
  • Psychographic: Senior individuals in executive roles with a broad, strategic focus and the ability to champion or influence large scale organizational change. 

Media, channels or techniques used 

Creative approach

The creative concept and hero campaign visual honored the core insight of a dynamic healthcare ecosystem, dimensionalizing the notion of B2E. The resulting ecosystem visual - a series of interconnected circles and nodes representing the numerous players in the ecosystem - uses varying brand colors, line widths, transparency effects and gradients to build depth, nuance and connection. Since its conception, the visual has taken on a life of its own, coming to life in new, interactive ways, including as an educational tool on the campaign microsite. 

“The creative platform really brought the campaign to life. It formed the backbone for everything that followed,” - campaign strategist, ZS 

Tactical approach 

With a powerful insight and the idea of "B2E" as our guiding light, the team set forth on planning and building the integrated ABM campaign experience. 

Key activities: 

  • Contact identification and buying group role mapping by account (using ZoomInfo) surfaced 1500 net-new initial senior contacts to target. 
  • Foundational messaging defined the story arc and became the “campaign bible”, moving from challenging the commercial status quo to introducing the new model and leading uniquely to ZS as partner and change enabler. 
  • Creative concepting that brought the idea of B2E to life in intuitive, interactive and show-stopping ways. Multi-channel, multi-touch campaign orchestration - a hyper personalized, high-touch play and a broader play - comprised of targeted paid media (leveraging LinkedIn, Twitter and ABM platform Demandbase for precision company-targeted advertising), content syndication (Contentgine) to gain additional high-value contacts, outbound email (Marketo), campaign microsite, bespoke content and VIP event experiences (including a private online event with Dr. Sanjay Gupta) for senior-level contacts. Additionally, sales enablement materials equipped account representatives to introduce B2E and ZS’s ability to deliver on its promise with confidence.
  • Finally, working with Quarry’s Marketing Operations team, ZS leveraged Alteryx to pull in, process and merge data from disparate platforms (Adobe Analytics, LinkedIn, Marketo, CVent, ON24, Demandbase), then Google Data Studio to build a campaign reporting dashboard to track account- and contact-level reach, engagement with campaign touchpoints and progression throughout the buying journey. 

Timescales of the campaign 

The upfront stages of discovery, campaign strategy and planning and then experience design took a few months to complete. The campaign was activated in market in mid-2021 with outbound components running for several months. 

Even today the “B2E” concept still carries on strong at ZS—from the thought-leadership microsite that’s still live and accessible via ZS.com to the fact that the CEO has even baked “B2E” into the company’s vision statement.

Results 

The B2E campaign was a massive hit, moving the needle across all three key measures of ABM success:

  • Reputation: B2E helped reposition ZS as the strategic thought leader and change maker in the industry.
  • Relationships: B2E generated active engagement across all 30 target accounts, brought in thousands of new senior-level contacts and opened the door for new meetings with CEOs and Chief Commercial Officers at five Fortune 100 pharmaceutical companies. 
  • Revenue: B2E influenced a whopping $40 million in net-new revenue in 2021. 

(Oh, and the CEO has since even baked "B2E" into the company’s vision statement.) 

“I was cautiously optimistic going in. Did I expect 100% account engagement? No. Was I thrilled? Yes!"

Megan Wolfe, campaign strategist, ZS

“The B2E story and this campaign helped me unlock new opportunities for conversations with CCOs who are making decisions about the future of customer engagement in the pharma industry, including some who I hadn’t engaged with before B2E"

Jude Konzelmann, managing principal, ZS

“Our CEO was really invested in the development of the campaign and its messaging. He loves it so much, he’s now baked B2E into the company’s vision statement"

Megan Wolfe, campaign strategist, ZS

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