Why the pandemic transformed the marketing strategy of a former cleaning company

We are a 112 year old company. Cleaning is what we do. Traditionally, cleaning has been a very budget-sensitive operational expense. Our purpose, to care for the people, spaces and places that matter to us, had been elevated in ways that never mattered more. Traditional cleaning methods were no longer going to work. It was about sanitizing spaces and making sure people were certified and trained to be able to do it properly.

How has this transformed the business?

We called on our experts because many products were coming to market and our customers didn’t know how to make sense of it all. Not only did it elevate what we did in the field, it also elevated the conversations we had about how to reduce risk and control infections. It’s not just how we went to market with this product offering, it’s also how we empowered our sales and operations teams to lead the conversation with our customers. existing.

What was the new product offering?

The Enhanced Cleaning Offering was a prescriptive three-step approach that could deliver healthy spaces using an expert-backed certified disinfection process. What was unique was that we assembled an expert advisory board of industrial hygienists and epidemiologists who helped guide the development of our program.

How did you train staff quickly and safely?

We relied on our experts to create certified processes and training. We have trained and certified more than 3,000 Enhanced Cleaning Facilitators and Disinfection Specialists and then trained others on how to quickly use hospital-grade disinfectant and specialized equipment for those hard-to-reach areas. That was the base before we got into some of the evidence-based testing that really validated that sanitizing worked.

What was the message?

Our entire marketing strategy has been fueled by the message of this “visible security” idea. Optics and perception are an important part of it. Our facility managers and property managers want visual assurance that high-touch areas are sanitized.

Think of the cleaners used to cleaning at night. We are increasing staff during the day in uniform. They want it to be visible. But then there’s a key element of enhanced cleaning that’s invisible: certified processes, training, staff, supplies, and testing that shows disinfection works.

How did you bring the new offer to market?

We did it in three waves. Obviously, for the first two waves, we didn’t know where the pandemic was going. We started with our top 100 customers and then our next 200 customers because we needed to make sure we had the supplies and staff to take care of our existing customers. It all started there, with sales enablement materials to guide our reps and operators through those conversations, truly positioning ABM as the trusted expert.

The third wave was about expanding and leveraging all owned, paid and earned media, all tactics and all channels, to really get our message across to all customers, all prospects, and really amplify that. This was to build brand awareness and credibility for who we are as a business and introduce the value of improved cleaning and the service offering itself.

Have you called on external partners?

We used our internal marketing team for most of waves one and two. We knew, in terms of speed and scale, that we had to engage our external partners to help us. It wasn’t just about the competition that might have existed, but it was really about building customer confidence. We’ve chosen channel partners and platforms that are proven to drive effective consideration and conversion for this digital effort.

Our channel mix was heavily focused on highly targeted display advertising and publisher partners such as the Wall Street Journal and many of the industry trades. We co-branded with WSJ to give us that broad awareness and credibility with relevant industry penetration, so we could strike a good balance giving a halo effect of exposures.

What story were you telling?

The story centered around this idea of ​​security that you can see and the offerings like enhanced cleaning that were going to get America back to work. This came in the form of an article, a captioned article, or one of our enhanced videos. We used a mix of both. In some cases, we were on the main page, really trying to get that halo effect of exposure not only to the investment community, but also to the C-suite and trade decision makers.

How did it work metrically?

The exposures we got from the WSJ in such a short time were exciting to us because we hadn’t done anything on that scale. In eight weeks, we had 75 million impressions. Even our enhanced clean video we launched got over 5 million views right off the bat, while the highest view count we’ve ever gotten before was 18,000.

How have you adapted your lead flow management?

In the first half of this year, year over year, we saw a 50% increase in leads. We are now looking to strengthen our lead scoring and funneling mechanisms in segments where we know we can deliver.

We are strongly aligned with our sales organization, and that includes our inside sales team. We break it down by each of our businesses and look at that lead flow – where we are in the qualification process, what we need to recycle into a development campaign if they’re not ready. Then it continues at the local level with our regional sales managers to make sure we keep them in that funnel as quickly as possible.

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William L. Hart