In 2018, Graybar Electric Corporation identified a growth opportunity in their municipal lighting sector. Graybar’s salesforce had seen increased interest in municipal street lighting upgrades across the United States, specifically in LED upgrades.
So, in 2019, Graybar approached Paradowski with a challenge:
Could we develop a pilot campaign capable of leveraging prior street lighting upgrades to generate new leads around the country? We got to work to find out.
While undoubtedly good investments, municipal street lighting upgrades are no small undertaking. Switching to LED light poles is often expensive, and conversion becomes more challenging when you consider that most municipal leaders have already made political promises to their community—and set budget allowances.
And though many mayors and public works directors may know that switching to LEDs could save up to 70% a year in lighting costs, many struggle to find the information they need to start the process or prove its long-term cost benefits. Our clients also reported that the risk can sometimes appear to outweigh the benefits, especially if decision-makers are not aware that LEDs not only save energy costs, but provide the foundation for future “smart city” connectivity.
We needed to reach decision makers through both the media and the message.
To better understand our target, we collaborated with Graybar to gather the most important case studies, program benefits, product highlights and process details. We then married this information with our own industry and target market research, and discovered municipal decision makers index higher for being interested in new technologies, conducting research before making technological purchases, and willingness to invest in high-quality products.
We knew our campaign would need to be interesting and informative enough to generate viable leads which could then be matched with expert Graybar representatives, showing our target audience a partnership behind the product benefits.
The campaign concept, “Don’t Get Left in the Dark,” was born from these insights. Our creative team developed this compelling call to action and created a sense of urgency to help our target understand that upgrading lighting infrastructure is a critical first step to a smarter city, and that committing to upgrades today can save time, effort and money down the road.
This integrated business-to-business pilot campaign ran in five major metro areas across the United States from September 2019 to December 2019. DMAs were selected based on areas where Graybar had seen previous success: Albuquerque, NM; Miami Lakes, FL; Milwaukee, WI; Chicago, IL; and, Stamford, CT.
From research, we knew the desired audiences were used to receiving fairly standard direct mail. We aspired to deliver something more engaging, where the benefits of LED lighting could inherently shine through. We broke through the proverbial clutter with two interactive pieces. The primary mailer, lit with a series of miniature LEDs acting as streetlights on a city grid, held case studies and facts supporting the value of LED street lighting. The secondary mailer, while more minimal, acted as a visual reminder of the importance of good lighting.
A complementary media buy was trafficked carefully based on target market research. Our audience indexed high for liking long-form content and for use of LinkedIn and Facebook. They were also likely to share website links and were more likely to click on paid advertising than the average consumer. Additionally, in our five key markets, we utilized detailed targeting to narrow the audience population down to decision-makers, using key variables such as job title and location.
In total, “Don’t Get Left in the Dark” utilized two interactive direct mail pieces, digital advertising, email marketing and social posts, all driving to a campaign microsite that connected interested leaders with Graybar representatives.
By creating a sense of urgency around infrastructure upgrades while highlighting the benefits alongside clear information about cost and process, our campaign generated 5.9 million unique impressions and over 60 individual, voluntary qualified leads—a staggering amount for a niche target audience—in just three months, solidifying municipal leaders’ interest in taking the first step to building a smarter city.
In close partnership with Graybar, we pushed the envelope of their B-to-B marketing strategy to prove that well-informed creativity can motivate a consumer base that’s famously slow-moving and budget conscious—and produce a major return on investment.