VISSAP launch business to rail sector with help of Outsmart Agency

Outsmart have launched a new business initiative on behalf of business optimisation experts, VISSAP.

Having rebranded VISSAP earlier in the year and launched a new website, Outsmart were tasked with introducing the VISSAP brand to Directors in the rail sector.

‘VISSAP have collated some very powerful case studies in the rail sector over the last couple of years –many with some hard facts and quantifiable figures to illustrate the difference we can make to rail companies.’ says VISSAP’s Managing Director, Alan Ashton

The UK-wide business with offices in London, Birmingham and Liverpool, has a proven track record of delivering business improvement services involving process-driven LEAN management and Enterprise Resource Planning optimisation. But where VISSAP stand out, is their unique ‘blended’ approach – utilising both techniques – joined up thinking they call ‘LEAN ERP.’e very powerful case studies in the rail sector over the last couple of years –many with some hard facts and quantifiable figures to illustrate the difference we can make to rail companies.’ says VISSAP’s Managing Director, Alan Ashton.

Ashton continues ‘We deliver tangible, recognisable value to clients, through a combination of innovative services and strategic partnerships. The core knowledge base of the VISSAP Partners, combined with an unparalleled network of Associates, allows us to deploy a truly global breadth of Management Consultancy expertise.’

Andy Taylor, Managing Director of Outsmart explains the marketing approach. ‘Essentially, you cannot go out and purchase a list of prospective names in the rail sector at the level VISSAP need to engage with. The list does not exist. It’s so niche and at such an elevated level, the only way you can get the information is to go out and create the database yourself.’

The initial phase, working closely with the VISSAP Partners and involved identifying relevant companies and discussing job titles in depth.

Ashton expands ‘Often you’ll need to speak to a number of decision-makers in an organisation as part of the information gathering exercise. MDs might sign off, but without the buy-in of CEOs, Operations Directors, Financial Directors, Commercial Director and Heads of Procurement, you cannot build the cross-company consensus you need to justify the process.’

The initial phase then involved a mixture of internet-based research and a pre-contact telephony campaign to confirm the validity of the database.

Once the final list was compiled, Outsmart then designed a ‘Breakthrough’ mailing, designed to get past the gatekeepers and make an impact in the office. ‘You can’t just send an A4 letter with a leaflet to an audience like this and expect it to work. It just doesn’t happen that way.’

Outsmart printed a large sheet of VISSAP branded paper suitable for origami and sent a personalised set of instructions to create an origami hummingbird. The mailing certainly had a ‘thud factor’, being packaged up in a substantial cardboard tube. It was hard to ignore!

Outsmart’s Creative Director Paul Harker explains ‘As part of their rebranding, VISSAP adopted the iconography of a hummingbird as part of the logo and embraced the mythology behind the brand proposition. The hummingbird is a remarkable bird with some amazing characteristics (it’s the only bird that can fly backwards, for instance) which perfectly symbolises the vigour, energy and adaptability of the VISSAP approach.

‘Each prospect was invited to construct an origami hummingbird and send an image of the results to VISSAP to help engage with the brand. ‘We have had some interesting images sent to us…’ remarks Ashton. ‘It’s been great fun.’

‘One very effective part of the campaign was a technique involving PURLs’ comments Taylor. A personalised web page on the VISSAP website was created for each prospect. An email follow up was sent a few days after the mailing with a link to the personalised website page.

‘The open rate of the PURLs achieved outstanding results with over an astonishing 80+% open rate. Normally, you’d be happy with a 20% open rate and a 5% click through of those opening.’ says Taylor

The next stage in the process involved telephony. ‘It was never going to be a quick fix.’ Comments Ashton ‘We put calls into all the prospects and developed an initial dialogue. Initially it’s about discovering more about the organisation and understanding its strengths and weakness and any issues this may present.’

Speaking to prospects took place over a number of weeks. ‘These are busy, influential people.’ Says Taylor ‘They are generally not sitting by the phone waiting to take your call. It was a challenge. ’

A personalised, rail sector specific brochure was then sent to all the prospects, with different letters according to the level of dialogue achieved over the previous few weeks. ‘The personal approach is key.’ says Taylor ‘Every stage carries a high level of personalisation – digital print being the way of achieving this cost-effectively.

And the big question, what was the return on the marketing investment? ‘It’s early days’ says Ashton, ‘but we’ve already had some very interesting conversations and hopefully a number of leads will develop over the course of 2013.’

‘Statistically’ says Taylor, ‘we’ve monitored website traffic levels, and seen a marked rise, open rates and click throughs have been hugely impressive and we monitored the response to the communication and the business proposition through the telephony.’

‘We’re very pleased with the impact of the campaign overall’ concludes Ashton. ‘We now have to make sure it converts into real business, which is the challenge going forward next year.’