In the changing world of A&D marketing,
be agile or be left behind.
Under new leadership, L3 Technologies’ goal was to expand their marketing efforts beyond the traditional Aerospace & Defense industry tactics to better engage with customers and suppliers directly and daily, rather than solely relying on trade shows and print publication advertising.
Challenger Brand Solution
Once upon a time in the last century, most Aerospace and Defense companies had a proven formula for marketing: choose the right publications, negotiate costs for a year-long presence, and create the advertising plan.
But as the digital revolution made its way to traditional A&D vertical publications, L3 Technologies (L3) had to make a change from a print-only focus to include digital advertising. Within 3 years, GKV transitioned L3’s corporate media mix from 93% print in 2016 to nearly 85% digital by Q1 of 2019. Yet, there was one significant barrier to this change: the perception that senior A&D executives and military leadership, L3’s key audience for corporate messaging, would not see digital advertising since the leadership team generally worked in secure facilities where digital devices were restricted and adblocking was commonplace.
Overcoming perceived barriers
In late 2016, L3 allowed for a test to determine how to best adapt to the changing advertising landscape. GKV utilized a mix of e-newsletters — the primary means by which senior military leadership and A&D executives accessed A&D news — along with a digital display campaign using several prominent media A&D properties. Key performance indicators (KPIs) were established to assess the campaign as follows:
- 0.05% – 0.08%: standard benchmark performance
- 0.20% – 0.35%: A&D industry average, based on performance data provided by A&D media companies
- 0.35%+: above the A&D benchmark range
The initial test was successful and it became clear to GKV and L3 that key audiences accessed information when offsite, either prior to or after normal work hours. Now that this perceived barrier was no longer a factor, the shift to digital media accelerated.
Focusing digital media investment around L3-attended A&D trade shows
Like many vertical industries, trade shows played an important role for networking and sales. In 2017, with nearly 28% of the budget allocated toward digital advertising, GKV implemented a “mini-campaign” approach to maximize the impact of digital advertising during AUSA Winter Symposium, Sea-Air-Space, SOFEX, the Paris Air Show and AUSA.
These 5-week digital campaigns (2 weeks prior, at show, 2 weeks post) utilized premium ad units and placements on sites such as Defense One and Defense News. As a result, L3 experienced more engagement than in previous years, demonstrating again how digital advertising could be used to build brand awareness.
Creating sponsorships to redefine the L3 brand
To help differentiate L3 positioning and distinguish it as a technology company within the A&D space rather than just a defense contractor, GKV worked with two media properties to create custom sponsorship programs which garnered industry attention:
- The Defense News Minute: 5-second video at the beginning of daily updates with the L3 logo throughout the broadcast housed on DefenseNews.com
- Defense and Aerospace Podcast and Transcript Sponsor: 5-second introductory mention by host and industry veteran Vago Muradian with L3’s logo on the podcast transcripts
Both sponsorships helped further elevate L3 as a leading company within the A&D industry.
By the end of 2018, L3’s digital campaign achieved the following, reflecting L3’s core tenets of agility, cost-effectiveness, and proven results:
- Ability to change out creative quickly, responding to current needs of the business
- With 31% of the 2018 budget, digital generated nearly as many impressions as print, at 46% less cost
- Generated an average 0.36% CTR for L3’s digital advertising, exceeding the A&D benchmark range