Featured Client: STEM Industry School Partnerships (SISP)
How an outsourced marketing model helped this NSW government initiative to expand it's reach and build partnerships
The STEM Industry School Partnerships (SISP) program is an initiative of the NSW Department of Education and is operated by a small team of dedicated and passionate professionals within and contracted to the Department. With limited resources yet huge levels of influence, the SISP team set lofty goals and engaged Method+Marketing early in the project to support them with initial projects in branding and design.
After the successful delivery of a new brand for SISP, the Project Lead, Dr Scott Sleap decided to outsource the project’s marketing and communications to Method+Marketing. “We are a small team and we lacked the in-house expertise and bandwidth to deliver a professional and effective program of marketing for the project. Ange and Katie were able to support us with a level of strategic insight and executional capability that we wouldn’t have been able to achieve with existing resources,” said Scott.
SISP’s engagement of Method+Marketing encompasses the full outsourcing of the project’s Marketing function, ranging from strategy, planning and branding, through to the creation of content, implementation of campaigns, and coordination of online events. “Whilst we are external to the SISP business, we act and work with them as though we are a part of the internal team,” explained Angela Henderson, Method+Marketing’s Director of Client Services. “They rely on us to support them not only with what they need, when they need it, but also to provide proactive and strategic advice to help them continually expand their influence, and grow their operation.”
STEM 2020 On Demand: Our outsourced marketing model in action
After months of careful planning, the NSW Department of Education’s SISP program team was disappointed to cancel STEM 2020 – their annual STEM-education conference, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Scott and the team had invested considerable time and money in lining up an impressive international speaker program, so we were keen to ensure the planned and paid-for content and speakers fees did not go to waste,” said Katie. “As such, we advised the SISP team to have speakers record keynotes on video and provide this pre-recorded content to delegates online.” The SISP team loved the idea and further developed the idea into the STEM 2020 On-Demand event.
Despite major challenges related to the timeline and difficulty engaging with an overwhelmed teacher audience, the decision to pivot and deliver in the on-demand format was a game-changer for the event and for SISP.
According to Dr Scott Sleap, with Method+Marketing’s support to overhaul the event format and market the conference via a multi-platform campaign and extensive content schedule, “the event has increased participation by over 500% on last year’s event, expanded the event’s reach to a far broader audience, further empowered SISP to achieve business objectives, and has provided the foundation for an ongoing platform of online professional learning in the STEM-education discipline”.
How Method+Marketing supported the event
“The key to success with this event was the development of a coordinated, multi-channel content strategy, including the creation of content across a number of content pillars,” outlined Angela Henderson, Method+Marketing’s Director of Client Services. This strategy included the creation of the below content:
- Event launch and post-launch campaigns
- Keynote speaker profiles
- Conference content (speaker videos, workshops, Q&A session and partner resources)
- Sponsor offers & competitions
- Free downloadable giveaway
- Video scripts and synopses
In addition to strategic, copywriting, script-writing and digital campaign set-up, management and optimisation services, Method+Marketing worked side-by-side with the SISP team’s additional partner services for the creation of websites, graphic design and video content for use across the event marketing channels.
In the lead-up to the event we focussed the pre-launch campaign on registrations of delegates:
- Content promoted event details via a series of video ads featuring keynote speakers Adam Spencer and Felicity Furey, and SISP Project leader Dr Scott Sleap, a single-image ad, as well as a boosted Facebook Event.
- In a post-launch campaign, content promoted the message that the event had commenced and registrations were still open via a video ad featuring keynote speaker Dr Jordan Ngyuen.
- Post-Launch Campaign:
- During the event we continued to reach new audiences to encourage registration and utilised give away content such as the unique Splat Download as an additional incentive to register:
- Content promoted a bonus downloadable and printable template for the award-winning Splat™ tool via a video ad.
The SISP blog formed a foundation of content for us to distribute across social and in eNewsletters. On the blog, we published a series of blog posts across the pre and post-launch period, including initial launch details, speaker profiles, and conference wraps.
Organic content was created and published across social media channels, ensuring a variance of topics from the designated content pillars over time, with consideration given to the channel and audience.
Engagement over the campaign period resulted in pleasing positive trends.
- 75% increase in Facebook followers
- 18% increase in Linkedin followers
- 63% increase in Twitter followers
- 22% increase in Instagram followers
- 855% growth on Facebook
- 294% growth on Twitter
Email and SMS Campaigns
A series of emails and SMS messages were sent to registered participants to promote updates of newly added speakers, workshops or Q&A sessions, and special offers from conference sponsors. This included an email to principals of schools asking them to consider registering their staff and using the conference content as a resource for their upcoming scheduled staff development days.
Achieving Our Goals
Given the challenges faced, the objectives seemed very much to be stretch goals, however, Method+Marketing’s efforts were well rewarded with these goals being achieved, and in many cases, exceeded.
Goal 1: Register 3,000 on-demand participants
The response to the event was overwhelmingly positive and the registration goal exceeded by 168% with 5,000+ registrations. This represented an approximate 500% increase on the previous year’s registrations.
Goal 2: Increase event access for regional, rural and remote delegates
Previous conferences that were traditionally held in the Hunter Valley had typically attracted a Hunter Valley and Sydney audience but had struggled to attract teachers from other regions of NSW. With a move to an online event, the SISP team saw this as an opportunity to increase access to educators no matter where they were located, or what other barriers they faced in terms of accessing professional development.
- At least 45% of the registered attendees for STEM 2020 On Demand were from Regional, Rural and Remote areas.
- This was an extremely positive outcome for the SISP team, as one of their central purposes is to inspire regional school students to study STEM in greater numbers than ever.
Goal 3: Extend reach beyond the NSW Education sector audience
The online event format also presented the opportunity for SISP to extend their reach beyond the NSW Department of Education audience to Catholic and Independent system educators, educators beyond NSW, and to STEM-enthusiasts in and beyond NSW. As such a goal was set to achieve an increase in non-NSW Department of Education educators.
- There was no specific percentage set, however, expectations were thoroughly exceeded, with 42% of registrations from non-NSW Department of Education delegates
- Expectations were further exceeded with 23% of registrations from outside of NSW, including every state and territory. In addition there are people registered from over 30 different countries.
The conference also caught the attention of the NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning, The Hon. Sarah Mitchell, MLC, who was inspired by the potential this resource had for educators in the post-COVID learning environment, and said “STEM subjects are vital for our students and their future, and our STEM teachers are among the most energetic and innovative. I hope everyone continues to use the online professional learning materials [available to them through the on-demand platform] to support their students as we navigate the challenging conditions of this pandemic.””