Safety-science company UL released its first standard for safety in 1903, producing a black-and-white report with the title: "Specifications for Construction of Tin Clad Fire Doors and Shutters." More than a century later, UL's research legacy is positioning the company well in the current content-driven marketing climate, said Suzanne Lavin, VP-corporate marketing. "Thought leadership is a key differentiator for us," she said. "We're a technical organization with a [more than] 100-year history of writing standards, doing white papers and conducting research. Finding content is not a challenge for us." The challenge instead lies in developing content formats that reach beyond laboratories to an audience including both C-suite executives and product designers. "How do you deliver content and put it in easy-to-understand, consumable bites?" Lavin said. UL worked with the New York office of agency MBLM to develop a "New Science" campaign that delivers information online, in print and in-person, providing multiple avenues for the UL audience to explore content. The campaign features a "New Science" microsite that targets the fire safety, indoor air quality, transaction security and sustainable energy verticals. Industry-specific pages include short video segments introducing market challenges, as well as multimedia assets such as infographics, videos, digital journals and white papers. Visitors can explore a list of relevant UL research, opt in to the mailing list and request information about UL services. The campaign leverages those same assets in email marketing and social media outreach. A "rich mail" program tailored to each vertical includes cross-platform content, so recipients can decide how they want to engage. Social media channels including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter provide a broader audience. Sales representatives take the collateral to trade shows and one-on-one meetings, using the tools to explore complex concepts. "We try to make each piece of research consumable in the ways that our target audience wants," Lavin said. C-suite clients require quick videos and high-level messaging; they respond to advertisements and articles that appear in general business publications, she said. Designers and engineers, however, are looking for technical information and detailed white papers. The campaign has been performing better than expectations and continues to gain momentum, said Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM. "It's been in the market for over a year, and month-over-month we are seeing a double-digit increase in terms of the click-through rate. We've been exceeding b-to-b norms in most of the media courses we've invested in." Moreover, UL scientists have taken an interest in working with the marketing department to translate their research into digestible videos and infographics, Lavin said. "We have some great scientists with deep technical expertise who are working on projects," she said. "We just needed to tap into that—and package and leverage it—and start showcasing our scientists."
Jack Neff on 10.24.2014