National Purchasing Partners boosts social engagement by 34% with new strategy

National Purchasing Partners (NPP) is a group-purchasing organization that businesses can join to gain bulk discounts on purchases. But when NPP members got a business discount, they didn’t necessarily understand the great cause behind it—that NPP is owned by hospitals and proceeds go toward medical research. The company needed help talking about its value proposition and wanted to share its brand on social media in a cause-centric, thoughtful, and compelling way.

Yesler hosted an all-day strategy workshop with key NPP stakeholders to dive into brand messaging, audience, and an earned media approach, bringing speed and expertise that NPP could not have achieved on its own. Armed with insights from the workshop, NPP got its staff on the same page and boosted organic engagement with its members.

Background

National Purchasing Partners (NPP) is a group purchasing organization with 300,000 small- and medium-sized businesses participating in its free membership. Together the businesses approach big brand partners like Verizon, Office Depot, and American Express to get bulk discounts. NPP members have no obligation to sign up, but if they do, the brand partners pay NPP and a portion of that revenue goes to support medical research.

It’s a win-win situation, but members weren’t very familiar with the NPP brand and often didn’t know that their participation was helping to support good causes. NPP wanted to become more well-known among its members to promote participation, and wanted to engage new members. Paul Hagan, Director of Marketing at NPP, knew his team needed to refine brand messaging, define marketing goals, and align on an earned media strategy. But he wanted to move quickly and find expert guidance from outside his team. “We’re a small organization, so starting from scratch on an earned media strategy was not in our wheelhouse,” says Hagan. “We needed someone with specific expertise. We turned to Yesler for help because we had worked with them before and knew their reputation as a top B2B agency.”

“We’re a small organization, so starting from scratch on an earned media strategy was not in our wheelhouse. We needed someone with specific expertise. We turned to Yesler for help because we had worked with them before and knew their reputation as a top B2B agency.”

Paul Hagan

Director of Marketing, National Purchasing Partners

Strategy

NPP engaged Yesler in early 2019 to help with messaging, branding, and an earned media strategy. Yesler marketing strategists and social media team members worked together to analyze NPP’s audience and complete an audit with competitive analysis. Next, Yesler proposed hosting an all-day strategy session with the NPP team.

In Yesler’s research something became clear: NPP had a powerful reason for members to engage beyond the bulk discount they receive. Because NPP is owned by nonprofit hospitals, a substantial portion of NPP proceeds support medical research at Benaroya Research Institute (BRI) at Virginia Mason in Seattle, Washington. BRI works to cure immune system diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, lupus, and Crohn’s disease.

“When our members take care of everyday business needs like phone lines, office supplies, and shipping, they are also supporting great causes,” says Hagan. “We needed Yesler’s guidance to talk about our cause in a way that resonates with existing members and draws in new ones while also being sensitive to the hospitals and brand partners.”

Solution

In March 2019, Yesler held an Earned Media Strategy Workshop with key stakeholders at NPP. The session included Hagan, a few of his direct reports from the marketing team, two brand managers who work with brand partners, and the company president.

At the workshop, the group dove into audiences, buyer personas, buyer journeys, goals, and marketing approaches, applying Yesler’s primary research and expertise on what influences B2B purchasing decisions. “It was a very productive day, and great to have Yesler facilitate this process and guide a constructive discussion,” says Hagan.

Then, the Yesler team spent two weeks reviewing the learnings and creating a Social Media Quickstart Guide and an Earned Media Strategy. Yesler provided NPP with specific guidance on campaign themes such as #SaveMoneySaveLives and #ProudofPurchase.

“It was a very productive day, and great to have Yesler facilitate this process and guide a constructive discussion.”

Paul Hagan

Director of Marketing, National Purchasing Partners

Results

Hagan coordinated with NPP hospital partners to share how the organization would talk about the hospital relationship to make sure the messaging would be consistent. Over the following months, NPP saw the impact of its new earned media strategy both internally and with its members.

Defined messaging

With a more complete vision of what NPP is based on the workshop findings, the organization updated its website with clear and concise messaging. For example, “Since 2001, NPP has contributed more than $130 million to support organizations dedicated to medical research and care. NPP member purchases make a difference. Become a member and support lifesaving medical research.”

Says Hagan, “How we talk about the connection to the hospitals has been a central part of all our messaging over the past few months. If you leave out the cause, we’re just a middleman—but our good cause is now part of our everyday DNA.”

NPP expects that the clarity will have wide-reaching effects, from accelerating sales to reducing risk. “The conversations we had in our workshop with Yesler will ultimately drive gains, agility, and efficiency over time,” says Hagan. “We also mitigate risk by communicating clearly with our hospital partners and not doing any guesswork with our messaging.”

Rallied employees to vision

The Earned Media Strategy and Social Media Quickstart Guide are now a central part of the marketing team’s documentation. Recently when Hagan hired three new employees, they were given the workshop decks as part of their onboarding. “The strategic resources Yesler provided are wonderful for onboarding new hires. It saves us time and energy, and gives everyone a common language so we can get right to work and not wonder about correct terminology.”

Increased member engagement and brand excitement

NPP has new channels for connecting with its members. As the marketing team expanded social outreach, it paid close attention to what worked, what didn’t, and how different audiences reacted to different messaging. “The #SaveMoneySaveLives hashtag Yesler recommended works really well. It’s been a wonderful theme and it’s authentic,” says Hagan. So far, quarter over quarter, NPP has seen a 23% increase in engagements per post on social and a 34% increase in post reach.

Found a trusted marketing partner

Overall, Hagan’s team is very happy they worked with Yesler on an earned media strategy and messaging. “Yesler is a trusted partner for NPP. They listened to us, educated us, and kept our goals as core elements of the earned media plan while providing expert support in our group setting. We bypassed the headaches of trying to accomplish everything internally, and we are confident we’re on the right path.”

NPP is already in conversations with Yesler about pursuing additional engagements in web development and digital media, with both businesses looking forward to what’s next for this partnership.

“Yesler is a trusted partner for NPP. They listened to us, educated us, and kept our goals as core elements of the earned media plan while providing expert support in our group setting. We bypassed the headaches of trying to accomplish everything internally, and we are confident we’re on the right path.”

Paul Hagan

Director of Marketing, National Purchasing Partners

+23%

engagements per post

+34%

in post reach

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