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How Sage repositioned to attract a wider audience

How Sage repositioned to attract a wider audience

By Joanna Elliott, head of brand marketing, Sage. 

Sage provides business software and services to more than 780,000 businesses in the UK, but until recently we were little known outside of business circles.  For this reason, in 2008, Sage made the decision to embark on a major repositioning campaign that would reflect the company’s core values, personality and brand to a new and wider audience - all without increasing the marketing budget.

At the heart of the repositioning strategy is the guiding principle that brands can no longer afford to only communicate to audiences through traditional business-to-business or business-to-consumer campaigns. To be effective, campaigns must be about people-to-people and engage with individuals both as consumers and as businesses professionals.

The launch of the Business Brains campaign took Sage out of the office and into people’s homes for the first time, via multiple touch points, and really brought to life the brand’s positioning of ‘Living Breathing Business’. Our Business Brains campaign aims to identify, explore and celebrate the qualities that make people in business more likely to succeed.  But to kick it all off, the campaign required an innovative high impact tactic. 

Partnering with ITV1 to bring back the Krypton Factor

The Business Brains campaign was launched through a partnership with ITV1 in the biggest Advertising Funded Programme (AFP) on prime time TV, with the return of the Krypton Factor TV show.

The Krypton Factor had always performed well on consumer polls investigating which TV programmes viewers most wanted to see return to their screens. But it was when we considered that the attributes tested and challenged in The Krypton Factor mirrored the very same qualities needed to succeed in business that we recognised the show would provide us with an effective springboard for the rest of the campaign.

Sage took the idea of bringing back the Krypton Factor to ITV, which was quite an unusual step as the vast majority of AFP is instigated by the broadcaster and not the brand partner. 

Although TV advertising continues to capture the largest share of ad spend (21.9%) (Source: IAB/PWC April 2009), AFP is becoming increasingly attractive to broadcasters as they recognise that overall ad spend is continuing to decline and they have to respond to the shift of advertising spend to online.

It also provides brands with an opportunity to really focus their marketing budget and efforts. While this may not be an appropriate tactic for companies wanting to gain better brand visibility, given the nature of Sage’s brand repositioning requirements, the AFP offered a very effective mechanism.

Sage realised the Krypton Factor AFP could also serve as a catalyst for its wider campaign, as the assets of the show could be leveraged for Sage to communicate, interact and engage with staff, customers and new audiences through multiple media platforms like never before.

Tactics & results

To maximise the value of Sage’s AFP deal with ITV1, it was critical to work in partnership with the broadcaster.  Several months before the show was due to air, and ahead of starting the nationwide hunt for contestants, we made the decision to generate excitement about the return of the Krypton Factor in the media and generate awareness of Sage’s involvement offline at a more personal level, ahead of the show returning to the air.

This was achieved through a sustained phase of rumour and speculation surrounding the show and key elements such as the new presenter, and by building a giant puzzle cube featuring clips from the show and covered in the new logos and taking it on a regional roadshow across the UK.

The roadshow provided an entertaining and informative platform to directly engage with people and raise awareness of Sage’s involvement with the show, and succeeded in generating more than 440,000 opportunities to see.

A key element to our Business Brains campaign has been the creation of an online site: This hub quickly established itself as the heartbeat for the Business Brains campaign. Leveraging images and collateral from the show, it bridges Sage’s involvement with the Krypton Factor and our wider campaign that aims to identify and celebrate the qualities that make people in business more likely to succeed.

The site enables users to explore and experience those attributes that make up a business IQ, such as mental agility, intelligence, general knowledge or physical stamina. It incorporates inspiring interviews with successful entrepreneurs; entertains members and develops their business skills with online brain training games, which are linked to the different rounds from the show; and profiles contestants from the show.

Since launch, the site has attracted 158,000 unique visitors, who spend an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds on the site. That’s equivalent to the average dwell time on a social networking site.

Throughout the campaign Sage has embraced social media to innovatively engage with different audiences including Sage staff; from creating a Facebook Avatar, whose friends and groups meant she could directly provide 1,945 people with exclusive information and insights about the show, to a groundbreaking deal with LinkedIn, which allows members of the site to challenge and compare the scores of other people in their LinkedIn network.

The innovative multi-faceted digital element of Sage's Business Brains campaign has secured several high-profile speaking opportunities for the company and provided a further platform to raise awareness of the firm’s campaign and forward-thinking approach.

We have also been able to leverage one of the shows key assets – the assault course. The assault course has been a highly effective relationship-building tool for Sage and the media, customers, partners and staff. The key to leveraging the show’s assets has been ensuring they have a natural fit with the wider campaign and the brand.

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