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Public Communications Campaign Research on Bicycling

The Situation

PeopleforBikes — an industry coalition of bicycling supporters and retailers, as well as a charitable foundation — is dedicated to promoting bicycle infrastructure in urban environments to encourage greater mobility physical, economic and social mobility for citizens. The coalition knows that building a safe, interconnected network of protected bikeways depends on gaining the support of many people. This includes, critically, those who only occasionally bike or never bike at all.

Artemis Strategy Group worked with partner Neimand Collaborative to help PeopleforBikes build a common value proposition around the wider concept of mobility. The goal was to build a campaign that bike enthusiasts advocates and the wider non-biking public could rally around.

We designed a public communications campaign research study to understand:

  1. Local aspirations and barriers relative to mobility within the community, including physical, financial and social mobility
  2. What messaging would best solidify existing support and entice new support from known pockets of opposition for biking infrastructure development as a critical component of enhanced mobility

Our Recommendation

We conducted our rigorous quantitative motivation research among a cross section of adults who either live in, commute to (for work or school) or visit each of eight targeted cities across the United States. This work helped the clients better understand people’s aspirations for mobility and how bike infrastructure could help them achieve their personal and civic goals.

The Outcome

Our public communications campaign research found that biking infrastructure, if part of a well thought out plan for infrastructure improvement, could be a win-win-win. First, car commuters win because the bikers have their own space and lanes. Next, pedestrians win because bikers have their own space and lanes. Finally, bikers win because they have their own space and lanes.

Partners Neimand Collaborative created messaging around this effective idea: Everyone has peace on the road when everyone has a piece of the road. PeopleforBikes will use these results to create a public communications campaign in each city aimed at building public interest, involvement and support for initiatives to build new biking infrastructure. The targets for these communications include cities, businesses and political elites in each city.

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Research to Shape a Foundation’s Legacy

The Situation

A major international foundation asked Artemis Strategy Group to conduct research to help the organization frame the issues, opportunities and choices related to the foundation’s legacy. It was developed as a “limited life” organization, and this foundation marketing research was conducted to identify the organization’s core and most salient characteristics in the eyes of important external audiences. The objective was to help the foundation determine how to speak about itself and the goals it wished to accomplish as it finalized its future role and activities. The foundation will close in 2020.

Our Recommendation

Artemis Strategy Group developed a careful process of interviewing several dozen selected high-level individuals throughout the world who had some level of engagement with the foundation. The interviewees included grantees, leaders of NGOs, philanthropists and people influential in social change. These confidential interviews were conducted in a structured manner that facilitated aggregate analysis around the choices to be made.

The Outcome

The brand guidance from the research helped the foundation use its “voice” and reputational leverage more effectively, refine the focus of grant making and activities and enhance the collective value of the grants and activities. Importantly, it helped the foundation decide where to focus its powerful voice in its remaining years.

Our client ran the communications function of this foundation and presented the research and resulting strategies to the leaders and the board. He was so taken with the process of listening to perceptions of the foundation by people who had touched it over the years that he introduced his presentation with a poem. We wrote a short blog post about it.

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Research to Develop a Foundation’s Brand & “Promise”

The Situation

We helped develop a major U.S. foundation’s brand, and they implemented a “Promise” at the same time. Ten years later we helped them update the written Promise because they wanted to publish it and use it as a touchstone for their brand. Their goal was to assess the response that it elicited from a broad spectrum of their stakeholders. These stakeholders included foundation staff, grantees, partners and the board of directors. The end goal of the communications development research was to provide feedback that was both evaluative and diagnostic; the Promise should strike a positive chord across the spectrum of stakeholders.

Our Recommendation

Artemis Strategy Group used a highly interactive facilitation process to get feedback from senior staff and board members, and then completed an online survey of the foundation’s critical stakeholders, which included a wide range of internal and external audiences. This approach permitted a highly granular assessment of the Promise; the respondents were able to “mark up” what they liked and did not like about the language. Artemis completed a holistic assessment that featured an analysis of components that most motivated positive actions.

The Outcome

This research was used as a catalyst to build a stronger footing for the foundation’s brand, and a new, powerful Promise emerged from the process. Conducting the survey was the tactical piece of this work and it was important, but the thinking tasks and working with the dynamic staff and board throughout the process made the outcome impactful. The board is comprised of leaders from sectors such as business, government, medicine and academia. They all have powerful voices and strong opinions. This process of creating the foundation’s Promise “helped the board bond,” according to our client, and the staff developed a strong sense of authorship.

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Communicating the Value of North Carolina’s Public Education Systems

The Situation

We were charged with message development in order to communicate the value of maintaining and strengthening North Carolina’s public education systems among parents in a political environment that was driving toward creating a voucher system.

Our Recommendation

Through qualitative and quantitative Motivation Research we identified four “pathways of thought” that motivated parents to support quality public schools, representing four distinct strategic communications options.

The most powerful message acknowledged the twin impact on creating high-quality young adults and a better, more successful society. But a more powerful motivator was how parents benefited from a quality school system. Generating greater support for schools in North Carolina depended on rebuilding the societal contract by providing people with confidence that they didn’t have to choose between personal aspirations and political ones. Here is how we viewed the core of these motivators using the framework of the means-end theory:

 

Supporting Public Education: Pathway Core using means-end theory

 

The Outcome

The key to our message development was to address parent values first and social values as a resulting aggregation. We did this by focusing messages on how public education actualizes the full potential of individuals, validates parents and creates social value through increased personal advancement.

This study is in the public domain; the full report can be found here [PDF].

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Health Insurance: Capitalizing on a New Market Opportunity

The Situation

The Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges created a new market opportunity that could change the competitive landscape for health insurance companies. But they also presented significant challenges for any company designing and communicating its offer–leading to this healthcare research study.

The client, a regional healthcare insurance provider, engaged Artemis Strategy Group to help them determine how to communicate with a new market and what to emphasize in their communications to the 15 percent of Americans who are uninsured. One challenge was that the target audience was incredibly diverse. Their motivations and likely shopping behaviors were not well understood. Add to this the complexity of the health insurance purchase process on the exchanges. The client requested insights on the multiple components of the consumer’s decision process: deciding to shop for insurance, shopping online through the market, and finally, selecting their insurance offer.

Our Recommendation

We designed and conducted several streams of research among the target uninsured audience and, separately, among community/health leaders to provide systemic perspective. The research thoroughly probed how people without health insurance think and make decisions about an intangible, complicated product with which they have limited experience. Our study results identified a core set of common motivational messages to reach this diverse audience, provided guidance on how to shape the offer and offered insights on shopping behavior that guided design and process.

The Outcome

A key insight came from understanding the frustrations uninsured people had experienced in prior efforts to obtain insurance and the reassurances they would need to renew their efforts. The array of new knowledge gleaned from research helped our client to develop a consistent positioning and go-to-market strategy for this developing opportunity.

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Food Safety Messaging: Using Research to Build Trust

The Situation

Americans expect the U.S. food supply to be safe. But food safety has its complexities, and it’s easy for consumers to be confused. Media stories often provide conflicting or inflammatory accounts about what is safe and what is not safe to consume. The proliferation of social media discussions about food safety adds to the clutter.

Our client, a major food association, develops science-based messages designed to improve public understanding of food safety issues. To shape these messages they needed to assess in detail the range of public understanding about food safety so that they could speak more effectively to those public information needs. In short, they wanted to bridge the gap between what scientists know and what consumers hear in order to build consumer confidence and trust.

Our Recommendation

Artemis Strategy Group designed and implemented a sophisticated study with both qualitative and quantitative components that provided “what” people know and do about food purchase and consumption, as well as the “why’s” behind their attitudes and decisions. The study results determined that negative perceptions were certainly created from external forces, but also that some industry marketing practices contributed to misperceptions and confusion among consumers. The research identified powerful and effective ways to communicate with consumers to boost their understanding of the issues and confidence to make daily food purchase decisions.

The Outcome

Our research provided our client with a set of guiding principles to help improve public understanding of the valuable U.S. food supply. These principles include guidance on language that conveys safety ideas, message formulation to provide an appropriate foundation of support, the role of source citation and use of credible experts to help convey meaningful information.

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Refueling Athletes: Capitalizing on a Ripe New Market for an Existing Product

The Situation

The beverage market has exploded over the past decade, and one of the most active markets is consumers who refresh, replenish or refuel after athletic activity. MilkPEP, the organization behind the National Milk Mustache “got milk” campaign, saw an opportunity: a new market for an existing product. They realized that they needed product development research.

hn1Chocolate milk, universally known but commonly viewed as a kid’s drink, has properties that make it uniquely appropriate to help a serious athlete recover from a strenuous workout. MilkPEP and its ad agency, Deutsch, conceived several alternative creative approaches, but they needed to understand the athlete market better to determine which would have more impact. They came to Artemis looking for research that would help assess these approaches and provide insights on the motivations that drive athletes.

Our Recommendation

Artemis Strategy Group developed and executed a research plan that engaged athletes in their real-time training locations to determine how refueling fit into their routine. We interviewed athletes from different sports and with different levels of exercise intensity at their gyms, fitness centers and universities across the country. The research identified a deeply personal motivation to work out that made selection of a campaign approach easy. Research results also helped show the variations in behaviors and motivations among athletes engaged in different levels of exercise intensity.

The Outcome

This was a breakout initiative on the part of MilkPEP, pushing into a promising sector of the beverage market where it had not previously been a player. The Artemis research helped the client identify the powerful “big idea” to fuel a creative campaign that leverages the existing equity of the product and taps into athletes’ goals, aspirations and values. Look for it at top athletic events!

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Motivating Consumers to Adopt New Technology

The Situation

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has worked for years to move payments to and from the government from paper format to electronic, a new technology implemented primarily to save money but also for efficiency and security reasons. In the early 2000s it was focused on how to encourage the last 20 percent of Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients to accept direct deposit payments from those programs. The target audience was defined by its program participation and its lack of acceptance of this technology. But its motivations were a mystery. Was there active resistance? Lack of awareness? Physical impediments? Something else? There was an “understanding target audience” gap.

Our Recommendation

In this research, Artemis Strategy Group determined that the critical contextual insight was related to the SSI recipients. For many, life posed so many challenges that even a seemingly minor decision like direct deposit was overwhelming. In addition, they retained a strong attachment to the tangible aspects of physical checks. It was clear that any effort to change behaviors had to address this larger spectrum of life issues as well as offer a psychological substitute for the perceived emotional rewards of a paper check.

The Outcome

Our insights on the target audience’s larger contextual issues encouraged the Department of the Treasury to change the way it spoke to recipients about direct deposit by focusing on the dimensions that connected most clearly with the underlying needs of this population. Ultimately a new delivery mechanism (prepaid cards) was adopted by the Department of the Treasury to help overcome the strong attachment to the tangible nature of checks.

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Thought Leadership: PNC “Perspectives of Retirement”

The Situation

In 2012, PNC Bank asked Artemis Strategy Group to help support the bank’s position as a leader in the crowded world of retirement planning and investment advice by conducting thought leadership research to generate original insights on public attitudes and behaviors. This approach builds on the core strengths of Artemis and extends PNC’s powerful thought leadership communications program.

Our Recommendation

We began this assignment with two preparatory analyses designed to create a stronger platform for public surveys. One was our “white space analysis” to identify open opportunities. These custom analyses are critical ingredients in our success with thought leadership studies. The second was an in-depth qualitative examination, using our Motivation Research approach to isolate emotional hot buttons deserving attention in the studies that followed. This emphasis on finding the motivational drivers is a critical ingredient in any communications campaign, so critically important to build into a thought leadership program.

The first Perspectives of Retirement Study (July 2012) captured the attitudes of more than 1,000 high-net-worth individuals nationwide, accurately categorized as “successful retirement savers.” The study focused on some of the ingredients of their success: determination, early saving and discipline. The results from this study were publicly released and picked up by major national media outlets as well as a wide range of local outlets that are important targets for this campaign.

PNC has a history of building valuable thought leadership properties through consistent effort. So it made sense to extend this initial success with an ongoing program of research on retirement. Artemis continued its national surveys, adding opportunities for additional insights with special survey add-ons for probing key concerns and with audience modifications that create new kinds of comparisons.

The second Perspectives of Retirement Study (January 2013) revealed the avoidance that many high-net-worth Americans associate with retirement planning. PNC used this triggering message to communicate simple steps people can take to lock in good financial planning habits.

The third study in the series (July 2013) was expanded to adults of all financial means, allowing for comparisons among households that differed widely in means and retirement preparation. This survey drew out important inconsistencies in pre-retirees’ expectations about when they expect to retire and how well prepared they are, partly by showing that many early retirees left the workforce earlier than they planned.

The Outcome

This body of research has served PNC Bank’s goal of elevating the visibility of its thought leadership position in retirement financial services. The bank has capitalized on the insights from this unique research not only to raise its public profile but also to support internal training, marketing collateral creation and even product development.

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