The NEC icebreaker unfreezes more business through disruptive campaign

Birmingham’s NEC’s winter campaign to open new conversations with agencies, corporate businesses and venue finders resulted in a 71.5% engagement, according to NEC director of marketing, Martin Clarke.

“We wanted to create a campaign that reached out to the right contacts and companies who might be thinking of the NEC for their next conference or live event. In such a competitive market, we had to ask ourselves what would help us stand out, make an impact and make sure our messaging is being seen by those who would be a great fit with our venue,” Clarke said.

“By using a disruptive form of direct mail, we have created a concept that take the idea of ‘breaking the ice’ in a literal, but memorable way,” he added.

The winter-themed campaign was launched to a total of 240 recipients, with each element linked back to the ‘ice-breaker’ idea.

A box, designed to look like a solid ice-cube, was sent out in January and contained useful items to help the recipient, literally, ‘break the ice’, with NEC-branded gloved ice scraper and de-icer spray, along with a thermal mug and hot chocolate.

NEC marketing manager, Gemma Piggott said the collateral was not only personalised by name but also segmented into two versions, with recipients receiving information on the flexibility of spaces relevant to their businesses event requirements as determined by pre-campaign research.

“Continuing with the Icebreaker concept and introducing a digital element to our campaign, the collateral contained a mini ice-scraper used to reveal a hidden link under a latex panel which directed the user to a landing page,” Piggott added.

“A winter warming prize had been hidden beneath one of the ice blocks and the user had to claim their chosen ice block to find the prize. To further increase engagement, the winner was only revealed when the temperature on the on-screen thermometer had risen enough for the ice to melt and reveal the prize location under the ice.”

A follow up process included emails and direct calls to fully maximise the opportunities the campaign had created and Adrian Evans, director of conference and live events at the NEC, said he was “delighted” with the response to the communication campaign. “The engagement has been huge, and has led to over £750,000 in opportunity value and over 24 client meetings, which is a fantastic return.”

Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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