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Student helped Nessling Foundation redesign the customer journey for the sustainability award gala

Among the first tasks of the student was redefining the key selling points of the Sininen Pallo -event.
Sininen Pallo event in Dipoli (Otaniemi, Espoo) on November 30th. Event host was Noora Yau, a doctoral candidate from the Aalto University School of Arts and Design. Picture: Sofia Suokko.
Sininen Pallo event in Dipoli (Otaniemi, Espoo) on November 30th. Event host was Noora Yau, a doctoral candidate from the Aalto University School of Arts and Design. Picture: Sofia Suokko.

Organized by three organizations the Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation, the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, and Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland SLS, the Sininen Pallo - Blå Globen Award is an annual award ceremony that recognizes the pioneering and scalable innovations contributing to solving the global ecological crisis. A winning solution, which is worth a prize of 100,000€, must have an influential role in changing consumer behaviors. 

Sininen pallo award was given out for the third time in 2023. In previous years, the award ceremony has been an invite-only event for a small number of people. “This year, we wanted to try something new and open up the event for students. As we usually don’t work with students a lot, we felt like we needed help in designing an event and a marketing plan that would appeal to a younger audience. It seemed fitting to have an Aalto student plan the marketing”, says Enni Sahlman, Impact Specialist at the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation.

School of Business student Ngan Hoang (M. Sc. Marketing) carried out a business project for Nessling Foundation between July and October 2023. The project was done in preparation for the event of the Sininen Pallo - Blå Globen Award and was conducted under the supervision of Postdoctoral researcher Juho-Petteri Huhtala from the Department of Marketing, Aalto University School of Business.

This year, the event is retargeted at students, specifically at Hanken and Aalto University, a group whose attention has increasingly been directed towards sustainability matters in recent years. With this retargetation, organizers hope to connect with younger citizens and shift their attention to the youth, believing the young can bring valuable ideas to the table.

The focus of this customized project was to deliver a marketing plan that can help event organizers channel the gaps resulting from audience targeting. It entails delivering customer analysis, customer journey, and a communications plan. The marketing plan aims to deliver marketing strategies and marketing tactics that ultimately help Sininen Pallo organizers meet their goal of engaging students.

Centering on sustainability

Defining Sininen Pallo’s unique selling points was one of the first tasks for the student to tackle. At first, the generous amount of the prize was thought to be a key selling point as rarely any awards offer such a large amount. However, after some interviews conducted with other students on the campus, the student found out that what would make Sininen Pallo appealing to students lies in the innovativeness and practicality of the nominated innovations. This finding enabled the student to move on to the next step: redesigning the customer journey.

As students are a completely novel group of audience for the event organizers, reimagining the customer journey is crucial to the development of the marketing plan. Ngan Hoang identified four main channels that allow event organizers to approach students effectively: social media, email marketing, printed materials, and word-of-mouth marketing. For each channel, the student suggested suitable marketing activities that can produce a good conversion rate. For example, for word-of-mouth marketing, including a brief introduction about Sininen Pallo in sustainability courses is a promising tactic in attracting students’ attention.

Furthermore, the customer experience was also highlighted during the development of the marketing plan. The student divided the project into three phases suited for specific marketing goals. The three phases, accompanied by weekly sub-plans, are before-event, during-event, and post-event. With weekly sub-plans, event organizers can visualize the progress of the marketing plan better and can adjust more easily.

The introduction of the feedback form during the post-event was also emphasized during the process. A feedback form can not only help event organizers evaluate the success of the event but also play a key role in improving future events.

New perspectives on event marketing

The academic supervisor of the project, Juho-Petteri Huhtala, believes that the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation gained new perspectives on event marketing from the project.

"As a result of the project, a concise plan was developed, focusing on marketing activities and their timing. The student sensibly considered the current resources and budget of the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation in the plan. The plan presents clear and practical recommendations on how effective marketing can be built around the event. I believe that precisely due to these factors, the plan can be utilized in a meaningful way."

Enni Sahlman, the Project Manager from the Nessling Foundation, says that working with the student went smoothly and the student had a very professional way for carrying out the project.

“Our goal was to understand the younger audience and get them familiar with the Sininen pallo – Blå globen award. That goal was definitely met, and we got a lot of valuable insight from this project! I can definitely recommend the NGO project programme for other nonprofits."

Winners of the Sininen Pallo award in 2023: founders of Kamupak Eero Heikkinen, Iida Miettinen and Karri Lehtonen. Picture: Sofia Suokko.
Founders of Kamupak Eero Heikkinen, Iida Miettinen and Karri Lehtonen. Picture: Sofia Suokko

News article from Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation web pages:
Winners of the Sininen pallo 2023 are the founders of Kamupak, Iida Miettinen, Karri Lehtonen and Eero Heikkinen (opens in a new window)

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