Versiti Blood Center, a newcomer to the Columbus, Ohio market, faced the challenge of raising awareness and attracting donors to its newly opened donor center in Hilliard, Ohio. Establishing a strong presence and engaging the local community were critical to their mission.
For visibility in the community and to reach potential donors, EMS employed two experiential marketing strategies: canvassing and community outreach events.
First, we selected targeted community events that make sense for Versiti to participate in such as Old Hilliard Fest and the Labor Day Arts Festival. Staffed with a team of trained Brand Ambassadors, the community could speak directly to Versiti to learn how they differ from the Red Cross and engage in quality conversations. Under a stand-out Versiti branded tent, the team provided promotional giveaways such as earbuds, flip flops, and t-shirts along with informational handouts, while encouraging on-site donation registrations.
EMS also developed a canvassing program to send a team of Brand Ambassadors to reach local businesses. In addition to providing store managers with detailed information on how to partner with Versiti, the field team requested coupons or items from each business to provide donors when donating blood. They also worked with the businesses to set up designated company donation weeks at the center where they encouraged employees to donate during their specified week. In exchange, employees would receive Versiti swag perks attending their appointments and company name and logo recognition was put on display at the Donor Center.
In addition, EMS also helped support Versiti’s popular Blood Battle, a month-long event at the Ohio State University against rival Michigan to collect the most blood donations. The EMS team set up the branded Versiti table and tent display to promote the challenge and scheduled appointments on the spot. Several Brand Ambassadors also distributed flyers around campus and outside of door rooms to spread the word.
Targeted events allowed Versiti to increase awareness throughout the community and increase its donor base. Utilizing Brand Ambassadors to be boots on the ground to visit local businesses proved successful in showcasing the impact and importance of blood donations for the community. The program was also unique as they were able to normalize having conversations around the odd topic of blood.
From October 2021 to September 2022, Versiti activated 18 events ranging from pop-ups on the Ohio State University campus to pre-game tailgates and local chamber and community events within a 10-mile drive of the new donor center.
In total, 3,170 have engaged with Brand Ambassadors at the Versiti display, 224 of which registered to donate blood thus far. More than 2,000 promotional flyers and 525 branded premiums have been distributed.
Additionally, between January to March of 2022, canvassing efforts resulted in engagements with 63 businesses within a 5-mile radius of the new blood center via the field team, who shared information and promotional packets about Versiti. Three organizations have committed to hosting company-sponsored blood drives.