Founded in 1940, the Neurosurgical Society of Australasia (NSA) is a professional not-for-profit organisation. The NSA’s purpose is the study and advancement of the science of neurosurgery and research into the cause, prevention, and cure of disease in humans in the field of neurosurgery. While voluntary, membership to the NSA comprises 95% of neurosurgeons in Australia and New Zealand. This reflects the commitment of neurosurgeons to the maintenance and delivery of the highest standard of neurosurgical care.
The Neurosurgical Society of Australasia (NSA) chose to bid to host the World Federation of Neurosurgical Society (WFNS) World Congress in Sydney in 2023. As Sydney’s business events experts, BESydney worked with NSA on this long and complex bid.
As part of our ongoing partnership, BESydney engaged pepperit to promote this bid through a campaign in the lead up to the global vote held in China in September 2019.
It was an exciting project for the pepper team as it presented many complexities in language, time zones, short time frames and limited budgets. Up to that point, NSA’s marketing had also been limited to the presence of an elementary website.
Our directive was clear: to deliver an international marketing campaign to a sophisticated and highly intelligent niche market. Our audience were voting members of the WFNS registered to vote in Beijing or voting through proxy, as well as conference attendees and their partners.
Recognising the unique characteristics of business events marketing, we needed a communications strategy that combined the importance of the event and Sydney’s suitability to host it, as well as the aspirational travel aspect of what their trip could offer.
Central to this was our ability to bring together our understanding of the brief and the needs of the client. We needed to deliver instant impact from the initial contact, or we’d risk immediate disengagement.
The two main areas we concentrated on were how to get our message out and making this much more than just a tourism campaign.
The initial brief was to provide a targeted social media advertising campaign. Yet, our own detailed research and analysis identified that the brief wouldn’t meet the desired result. Key to this was that the vote was taking place in China. Social media channels including Facebook would be muted at the critical time of the campaign. Our research also showed this target audience had limited engagement with social media on a regular basis.
Working with the client and stakeholders, it was agreed evolving the brief into an email marketing campaign would be the best approach to reach the voting members in Beijing. This strategy would allow us to better infiltrate the campaign message to the desired target market at a time critical for the campaign.
This was a destination marketing plan to showcase Sydney and Australia as an unforgettable destination, to extend travel before or after the 2023 Congress. Attendees were identified as being in a higher socio-economic demographic and were mostly travelling long distances to Australia, likely wanting to make the most of their trip once in Sydney.
Authentic, familiar, welcoming. True to our own philosophy, the key campaign message for this bid was in sharing the authentic stories of neurosurgeons and how they spend their downtime across Australia.
More than white sandy beaches, we also used valuable secondary messages of Sydney and Australia being:
Throughout this campaign, we showcased experiences of Sydney through the eyes of Australian neurosurgery ‘influencer’ counterparts. We shared the authentic Australian experience to the international neurosurgery community with our genuine, relaxed and welcoming nature, reflecting an Australian feel.
These bid champions provided a point of difference from our competitor destination, Cape Town. Here, the real experiences are away from the tourist attractions and ‘going off track’ is all part of authentic Australian travel.
We developed a landing page as a central hub of information for voters and other congress attendees. We were spoilt for choice with imagery so could make it highly visual. Acting as a useful place to which we could direct traffic our email communications, it tied the campaign together.
Email marketing became a vital element of our marketing campaign for this bid as it was a cost-effective way in which we could communicate with the nominated database and track interest in NSA’s bid.
The emails spanned four main pieces of communication:
As a final commendation, the bid effort to host this international congress was endorsed by the Prime Minister of Australia, The Honourable Scott Morrison.
This was such a great campaign for our team to sink our teeth into. Tight deadlines and a limited budget made it challenging, but that’s just what we love.
We amplified the bid message using segmented email distribution lists and aspirational visuals, adding value through first understanding the audience and any constraints around getting our message out. Throughout the email marketing series, there was only one unsubscribe from all the emails combined, a remarkable result emphasising our detailed research and accurate analysis of this niche target market. A true understanding of the audience, combined with compelling messaging and imagery lead to an extremely strong email open rate across the series, 22% above the industry benchmark.
In a somewhat political move that could not have been foreseen, Sydney lost its bid to Cape Town for the 2023 Congress. BESydney and pepper, however, learned valuable lessons that will be implemented in future campaigns in this partnership.