How do you grow business in a state that covers 82,282 square miles, claims 627 incorporated cities, spans 105 counties and has numerous colleges and universities, small business development centers, regional foundations, chambers of commerce, community foundations, economic development organizations ready to provide small business assistance?
You could turbocharge your metal detector to find that needle in a haystack—or you could just call NetWork Kansas.
An affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs, NetWork Kansas connects Kansas entrepreneurs to the resources they need to start and grow successful businesses. This summer, their pool of entrepreneurial service providers swelled to include more than 500 resource partners—and that, said Anne Dewvall, product manager of engagement at NetWork Kansas, was ample cause for celebration.
So during the months of June and July, NetWork Kansas promoted its growing network of All Star Partners. The celebration of 500+ All Star Partners coincided, and not coincidentally, with Kansas City’s hosting of the 2012 MLB All Star Game.
Here’s how they did it.
Network Kansas All Stars? How did you come up with that?
The idea for our All Star campaign came out of a group brainstorming session. We knew we wanted to do something simple and fun to highlight the fact that our network of partners had surpassed the 500 mark.
This is an achievement for us, of course, but the power of what we do lies in the connections we can facilitate throughout our network, so the partners deserved to be in the spotlight. We couldn't do any of what we do without them.
Why the All Stars?
Summer means baseball, so that was on the minds of our staff members, some of whom actively watch or coach the sport, and the timing of the All Star game in Kansas City made this a great fit. Corey Mohn deserves credit for pointing out the All Star connection and from there, the idea snowballed.
What did you do to spread the word about your Network Kansas All Stars?
We quickly created a short video, thanks to the talents of our digital media intern Adam Hite and some "playing cards" highlighting a handful of our 500+ All Stars, and featured both these images and the video on the front page of our website. These items were paired with an official announcement, distributed by e-blast with slightly different messaging tailored to our resource partner network, the media, and our entrepreneur network. We personally congratulated the All Stars we had chosen to highlight, providing them their playing card and encouraging them to share their news on their website and social media accounts.
Finally, during the week preceding the All Star game and the week of the All Star game, we focused on promoting this campaign on social media, using several of our team members and leveraging hashtags already circulating on the Internet due to the All Star game in Kansas City.
How was the campaign received?
The response was good - with several additional partners reaching out to inquire about how they could get their own playing card or be featured on our website. The video was watched and shared among our network and continues to be available on our YouTube channel. Our social media engagement spiked and the playing card images were shared across the partner network. We hope we made a few people smile and drew attention to the power of our network and the way the NetWork Kansas process works with our video. The response we got was great, especially considering the limited time we devoted to executing this campaign.
What advice would you have for other affiliates who want to launch a campaign like this?
Like most nonprofits, we work with limited resources, and if we can make our efforts work twice as hard, then it's all the better - so we used this opportunity to go beyond a press release to highlight an achievement while also creating a video that tells the story of how NetWork Kansas connects entrepreneurs to our network by using the baseball analogy.