Case Study: Wellington
How Proof helped determine a unique competitive advantage to differentiate a company from competitors
With over 20 years of experience in corporate event and promotional gift management, Wellington’s expertise of identifying and deeply understanding their clients’ brands has made them one of the most respected firms in their industry. Providing “brand curation,” Wellington’s track record of creating “signature experiences” has earned them rave reviews from leading brands such as Mazda, Kauffman Center for Performing Arts and Community America Credit Union.
Wellington had grown significantly since its founding in 1994 and CEO, Joan Wells, along with President, Jada Hill, believed that the perception of their brand was not reflective of their current business. Additionally, the list of capabilities (not dissimilar to their competitors) was some 41 items long and while they have experience and expertise in these areas, you can only stand for one thing in the mind. The challenge was to take all of Wellington’s competencies and expertise and communicate it into one “Aha!” moment where their customers and prospects instantaneously understand their competitive advantage.
[Two vs. One]
In 2002, Wellington spun off their gifts and giveaways division and have since been operating “The Wellington Group” and “Wellington Promotions” as two different brands both with distinctly different proficiencies and focus. Leadership was concerned that having these sister companies was potentially confusing to existing and potential clients. The two brands created a chicken-or-the-egg circumstance with clients who generally engaged services from both brands but while both were effective it was unclear which brand’s message addressed a potential client’s pain first. This provided a messaging and marketing challenge for Wellington that was stymying growth.
As a perceived critical component as Wellington began to expand, they were planning to open regional offices across the country which is a typical model for their competitors. Because it would be a significant investment in infrastructure they wanted to find out exactly how important such a move would be to their target market.
Through the research it was evident that Wellington’s target market not only wanted them to provide unique experiences for their events and promotional gifts but the most important factor of providing this service was to remain a steward of their brand. “It is a noble endeavor to keep this in mind as we partner with our clients to produce events, meetings and unique gifting solutions. It enables us to see a unique benefit that our clients are deriving through our working relationship; one that is important to them in their daily lives,” said Joan Wells, CEO of Wellington. Upon review of the marketplace it was evident that focusing on the client’s brand was not something that any of their competitors were focusing on and something Wellington was inherently already doing.
Regarding The Wellington Group and Wellington Promotions existing in tandem to one another, the research was able to clearly delineate the two models in the mind of their customers. Ultimately, Proof was able to determine that Wellington Promotions should be communicated specifically in a supporting role to the Wellington Group model. While Proof was able to identify that the promotional gift side of the business could stand on its own, it was more valuable to support Wellington’s core business strength by offering “inventive gifting solutions” that would help deliver “signature experiences”. Regarding price, CEO, Joan Wells, described her reaction to the data, “Because our event and gift budget processes are lengthy and complex, we often assume that pricing is the client’s primary focus. Interestingly, pricing was ranked toward the bottom of client priorities considered in the engagement process for event production or gifts.”
Through the research, Proof was able to determine that having regional offices was virtually insignificant to Wellington’s target market. In fact, while having 24/7 service and access to Wellington was important, having a physical regional office nearby was the lowest indicated value score out of 15 tested critical business variables. The result of this exploration saved Wellington from adding expensive infrastructure cost that was not only trivial at best in the eyes of their customers but also was limiting their cash flow hindering their ability to grow.
“The brand positioning process was an enlightening part of our company’s evolution. We learned that our clients view us as first class and elevated in approach and service. It is an incentive to us to consistently work to define the Wellington experience and to ensure that it meets the bar set by our clients’ perceptions and expectations.”