Technique 2 minutes, 42 second read Mark Johnson, Editor, Just.Marketing
Surveys can be nothing more than PR frippery: totally ignorable; or they can offer genuine insights, stop an industry in its tracks, and capture the media’s imagination. The best even give the brand behind it an amazing profile boost because they change the conversation.
This was the case for fintech company BlackLine with its ‘Mistrust in the Numbers’ survey late last year. It fed into an existing ongoing conversation in boardrooms and financial markets on financial risk, accuracy and accountability. Generating reams of coverage in high-quality media globally, it also generated lots of new business for the firm.
Talking about why he thinks it worked, BlackLine CMO Andres Botero, says, “We didn’t want a sales pitch but a door opener. We wanted a topic that naturally lent itself to people needing better solutions and systems in place.”
The survey highlighted the potentially huge number of financial inaccuracies that could be lurking, unseen, in finance departments across the world; ideal for a company offering cloud-based accounting solutions.
So of course, an iceberg was duly chosen as the theme for the campaign (see main image).
The iceberg floats
The motivation for the survey, says Andres, was straightforward.
“BlackLine has software that helps accountants close their books. It’s a well-defined audience but it’s hard to get their attention,” he says.
The survey sought to uncover the different attitudes and levels of trust in their own financial data among c-suite executives and finance professionals.
Among the many headline-grabbing findings were that 41% don’t completely trust the accuracy of their own financial data because of potential human error when data is input manually. It also calculated that 114 days a year are wasted trying to fix mistakes.
“Investing in brand new data was important and the statistics it produced meant we could analyse and uncover newsworthy facts that the market didn’t know,” says Andres.
From there, an integrated PR campaign was mobilised across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
The toughest part
The assets were created by BlackLine’s Product Marketing Head, its creative and PR agencies, and its social media team.
A global press release was used for tiered media pitches backed up by a global white paper, two infographics and dedicated campaign landing pages. Regional agencies and marketing teams were given autonomy to tailor the data and assets to reflect their local markets.
The most challenging part, says Andres, was international coordination.
“The regions had subsets of data and used their specific market knowledge to tailor content.”
All assets were also translated and tailored to different markets for marketing purposes. The whitepaper, for example, was used for lead generation and landing pages required interested parties to share their details when downloading it.
The marketing value of the survey has been increased by creating a range of assets, a flagship survey that will be developed each year to address new themes in financial reporting and a share of voice BlackLine could only dream of previously.
Andres concludes, “This has shown us the value of original research. We’re only a mid-sized company but this gave us our own voice. Generating our own news in an authentic way was a good way to get us out there. The value of doing that is now proven.”