A month ago CNN published an article about Helsinki Red Room and its founder Jere Virtanen (who also happens to be Gofamer’s founder and CEO). An article was also released on UOL (Brazil’s largest internet portal) and then featured across many, smaller media outlets. It is no coincidence that Jere and his project received so much media attention around the world. Of course, luck plays a part but it would be way too easy to say that all of this happened because of some lucky incident.

So what were the key things that led to Jere receiving more than 5 000 messages around the world from fans, media and companies? What were the steps that we took to get worldwide attention? How can our success help companies reach their own targets in this digital world?

Let’s start from the beginning and retell our story, piece by piece.

The Beginning 

When Jere decided that Helsinki Red Room would have an opening event, we put together a plan on how to reach our audience (fans, media and sponsor companies). A step-by-step plan with clear targets, responsibilities and deadlines. We recruited a team of events professionals to take over the day-to-day event production so that we could focus on the sales, marketing and communication.

We are not going to describe what kind of strategies we put together or how many calls we made to potential sponsoring companies. There is already a lot of amazing literature about cold calling, marketing strategies etc. and so we want to focus on revealing our cornerstones and how we were able to deploy our plan so well.

Helsinki Red Room

Network

At the end, it always comes back to your network. All successful businesses need to have a wide network of key people. In our case it is all about influencers – in all their forms.

In this case study, the most important part of the network is the Manchester United family/community. Without fellow fans, media and the biggest influencers within the network we wouldn’t have achieved anything (even though our story was engaging and interesting).

It is not always about knowing the right person but it is enough  to know a person who knows the right person (networking has its different levels). For us to move forward with the “Legends Night in Helsinki” event concept, we needed to be in touch with several different key people within the Manchester United global community:

  • Someone from the club to reach the wanted players
  • Someone from local media to get our story through
  • Someone from the global fan base to get the word spread around the world

… and so on.

Even the best ideas won’t spread without using the right channels. And the right channels can be found by looking at data and exploring which social media channels work best with different kinds of content. Looking at who is the most influential within your chosen community and on social media. Who do you need to reach in order to achieve your targets?

Credibility

The next question would be how to build up the right kind of network to support your target(s). It all comes down to credibility. Let us explain why…

When someone wants to spread a message within a community, they need to have enough credibility within that community to be heard. Credibility isn’t something you can buy as it needs to be earned (of course money can help you to reach it faster).

There is one similarity across all communities: hierarchy. Those who have been there longest are usually the ones who everybody listens to. Those who have achieved the most within their community can also have a huge impact on other members.

The most important thing here is that you need to reach those influencers who have enough credibility within their communities so that your message can be spread in the right way. If it is too commercial or the chosen person is wrong, it can backfire and you can end up costing double the money and effort. .

So finding the right influencers who have credibility is the key to spreading your message into communities.

Perseverance

If you and your brand want to get the credibility yourself that’s a longer journey, but one that will pay off in the long run. People tend to engage much more deeply with brands that have credibility within their communities. That means that they will change their buying behaviour towards those brands. This status is hard to earn and requires a lot of perseverance.

The fastest way (as we explained earlier) is to use the right influencers within the chosen community. But this will cost you more and more each time as you need to use the same or different influencer to get your messages delivered. What if you change your mind-set and you get your own foothold within your chosen community?

By doing the right thing for the community you will gain their trust step-by-step. You need to show that you really care and act accordingly. It is faster to gain trust as a person than a brand because the latter is a lot more commercial and less approachable.

With the help of the right influencers within the community, you can speed up the process (a lot) but it still needs a lot of perseverance to achieve something sustainable. The results will be also much more sustainable when you don’t rush.

The power of stories

Finally we come down to stories. This is the most important aspect in sales and marketing. Always. Even the best network and influencer(s) can’t help you if your story doesn’t work. Good stories get attention, better stories grow interest and the best stories inspire and grow desire! The deeper contact you make to your target audience the more results you will get.

You don’t need to know what kind of stories stick within the right communities yourself as that can be seen from data. When you compare results with different kinds of content in the same community you can optimize what you should produce yourself or with your chosen influencers.

The best stories can have a long life especially within fan communities. Try to work with the most influential fans, producers and players as they can make the story stick much easier!

Timing

Although it’s not all about timing, it can make a huge difference.

As we mentioned in the beginning, putting together a good strategy is really important. When you have planned the ‘what, where, when, how and why’, you increase your chances of being more successful. Companies too often try to save money by not putting together a proper strategy but believe us this will cost you a lot more in the long run.

When you have a clear idea of what you need to do, you will more than likely have a plan on when to do different actions. It can really boost your results if you publish your content at the right time (not only on the right hour but also weekday, week, month and year basis).

For example: if you want to maximize the results within the football community, you need to post your story during a time when you are not competing with other interesting content. It doesn’t make sense to pay a lot to a key influencer and then release your content with him/her during a big match or scandal. There is no need to fight against the daily media, there is always a right time to get the  best results with every campaign. Timing is everything!

Remember: when you do something with passion, it usually pays out!