Awards case study: How Agency59 helped TELUS surpass its competition entry goal by 204%

Find out how a truly multichannel campaign led to a record 3348 entries for TELUS' Small Business Challenge competition in 2015

Summary

TELUS Communications holds a contest called the TELUS Small Business Challenge, which offers a $100,000 grant and other prizes to help small business owners address competitive pressure, poor cash flow and difficulty keeping up with technology.

Joining forces with The Globe and Mail, along with social media, would help entrants raise their visibility via national publicity; the $100,000 would resolve cash flow; and technology prize packs would keep winners current. The chief objective for 2015 was to surpass the 2014 entry total by 91%. So Agency59 created a multichannel campaign with internal and external tactics across traditional and digital media.

It ran print and online ads, hosted a thought leadership hub, engaged customers at retail via digital merchandising and vouchers, leveraged the contest in telemarketing, rallied the sales channel, and blended PR activities with social media for maximum effect. All components featured plants at various stages of growth to mirror TELUS’ audience’s desire to grow their businesses. The TELUS ‘tree frog’ imagery connected all components while reinforcing the TELUS ‘critter' brand.

Agency59 also created online videos to further promote semi-finalists’ stories. The result? TELUS received 3348 entries, surpassing last year’s total by 204% and this year’s goal by 59%.

About the client company

TELUS Corporation is a Canadian national telecommunications company that offers a range of B2B products and services including internet, entertainment, healthcare, voice, video, satellite and IPTV television.

TELUS's wireless division also provides a number of mobile phone networks. TELUS is the incumbent local exchange carrier in British Columbia and Alberta, and a major local exchange carrier in Ontario and Quebec. Chief competitors are Bell and Rogers, but TELUS distinguishes itself on a platform of user-friendly technology and a campaign look and feel that promises that the future is friendly, too… even for small businesses.

Strategy – broader business issues the company is facing

In Canada, the competition in the telecommunications arena is fierce. With a population one-tenth the size of its neighbour to the south, every small business customer is highly coveted. Compounding the problem is the fact that small business owners are both time-starved and cash-strapped, making it difficult to grab their attention and win them over. They spend more time on operations than on getting ahead.

However, by drilling down, TELUS identified their painpoints: (1) pressure from larger competitors; (2) poor cash flow due to lack of funding alternatives; and (3) difficulty keeping up with technology. Relieve the pain and you might close the sale.

To address these painpoints, TELUS created the Small Business Challenge – a contest to help small businesses overcome these hurdles with a $100,000 grant and additional prizes. Its aim was to bring the TELUS brand to life through compelling storytelling that built trust and drove advocacy through content marketing and strategic partnerships.

By leveraging its research insights, TELUS could zero in on the format, content and prizing for the Small Business Challenge: (1) A partnership with The Globe and Mail news organisation, along with social media, would help cash-strapped entrants raise their visibility among larger competitors through national publicity; (2) The $100,000 grand prize would address the issue of alternative funding and cash flow; and (3) expert advice and technology prize packs (est. value of $1500 each) would help semi-finalists and regional winners keep up to date on the latest technology.

Knowing that small business owners are time sensitive, the entry process would be clear, simple and brief. TELUS would ask each business owner to share their contact details, their biggest business challenge, and how they could solve it with the $100,000 grant. Multiple media would be used in every phase of the contest – from announcement to shortlisted semi-finalists to declared winner. TELUS would also rely on The Globe and Mail media assets to spread the word.

Objectives of the campaign

  • To surpass the 2014 entry total by 1000 – a 91% YOY increase.
  • To double media impressions from 8.2 million to 16.4 million.
  • To boost the number of semi-finalist voters from 7571 in 2014 to 10,000.
  • To generate 100,000 YouTube views of finalist videos – a 154% YOY jump.
  • To earn free buzz via #smbizchallenge to supplement the social media spend.

The target audience

By leveraging CEB research, internal market research, feedback from customers and sales channels, plus previous contest entries, TELUS was able to target all Canadian small businesses with 1-99 employees (excluding Quebec).

Media, channels or techniques used

The creative platform had to transcend four waves of the multimedia campaign:

  1. Announcement;
  2. Last chance;
  3. Finalist event; and
  4. Declared winner.

The theme focused on helping owners realise their dreams to grow their small businesses. To that end, TELUS featured plants at various stages of growth to convey that metaphor across all communications.

Although this is a promotion, TELUS still had to adhere to strict branding guidelines. The ‘tree frog’ imagery (long associated with TELUS communications to small business) served as the connective tissue across all components and reinforced the TELUS ‘critter’ brand. It struck the right balance between brand reverence and promotional excitement.

To drive awareness, Agency59 developed a multichannel campaign with internal and external tactics across traditional and digital media, which unified both TELUS’s marketing and sales efforts. TELUS also partnered with The Globe and Mail to help leverage its small business readership base. In fact, globeandmail.ca is one of the top sites visited by small business owners.

Media included print and online ads, an online thought leadership hub, telemarketing, digital retail merchandising and vouchers, sales channel initiatives, and a blend of PR activities and social media. Agency59 also created a series of online videos featuring semi-finalists to further promote their compelling business stories.

Timescales of the campaign

  • Research: January-February 2015
  • Planning: March 2015
  • Announcement: March-April 2015
  • Last chance: End of May 2015
  • Finalist event: End of June 2015
  • Declared winner: October 2015
  • Reporting analysis: December 2015

Results

  • Received 3348 entries, surpassing the 2014 total of 1100 by 204% and the 2015 goal of 2100 entries by 59%.
  • Generated nearly 28 million media impressions – 242% above the 2014 total and 71% above the 2015 objective of 16.4 million impressions.
  • Voting for the five finalists soared from 7571 to 11,488 – a 52% increase over 2014 and a 15% increase over the 2015 objective of 10,000 voters.
  • YouTube finalist videos attracted over 140,000 views – 255% above the 39,399 views in 2014 and 40% higher than the 2015 goal of 100,000 views.
  • #smbizchallenge was an organic trending topic on June 25, 2015 during our semi-finalist pitch event, giving us $30,000 in unpaid social promotion.

Client testimonial

“The TELUS Small Business Challenge has been an extremely successful campaign and gets better each year. In 2015, we achieved the best results to date, including a 204% increase in entries over 2014. In addition to achieving our Small Business Month results, this contest is also part of TELUS’ Likelihood to Recommend (L2R) strategy to put customers first so that they become advocates for making TELUS Canada’s most recommended technology partner. The SBS L2R score increased from an already high 72% to an industry-leading 76% since inception – an impressive 4% overall increase.” Tasha Caruso, senior marketing manager, social media, TELUS.

B2B Marketing Awards 2016

This case study was submitted as part of the judging process for the B2B Marketing Awards 2016. It was shortlisted under Best multichannel campaign: ‘TELUS small business challenge’ for TELUS Communications by Agency 59.

See the shortlist