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Grant Thornton won the B2B Brand Team of the Year category at The Drum Awards for Marketing 2021. Here the team explains the strategic approach it took to support its clients, leveraging talent and good training to thrive despite the pandemic.

The challenge

Grant Thornton LLP is the US member firm of Grant Thornton International and one of the leading independent audit, tax and advisory firms. The internal marketing team is 60 strong and supports brand, industry, sponsorship, and service line marketing.

It’s seen as a challenger to the ’Big Four’ professional services firms and to the everyday status quo, a role it welcomes. When Covid-19 became a reality and rendered nearly all internal and external marketing activity irrelevant, the entire marketing team shifted immediately.


The strategy

As Covid-19 entered America in early spring, Grant Thornton knew it needed to help its clients quickly.

Within days, leaders from across the firm and marketing created a campaign called ’Respond and Restore. Together.’ (RRT). A project management taskforce was charged with reviewing all activity to ensure it fit under the new strategy, and all content was viable. The team worked with firm leadership to map current solutions offerings and determine any needed evolution to face pressing needs.

An economic downturn had been forecast well before a global pandemic entered our collective consciousness. Grant Thornton developed a downturn campaign in Spring 2019, but it shifted dramatically at the end of February 2020. By mid-March, the campaign turned to crisis response actions our clients needed for survival. We immediately utilized the framework of the downturn campaign to form RRT’s foundation. Currently, data and insights from the downturn campaign are being leveraged as the team shifts from the ’Respond’ to the ’Restore’ phase of RRT and businesses contemplate new normal.

While the intent of the downturn campaign had always been to provide a cohesive, cross-service line campaign, the global pandemic necessitated an integrated response. It was one of dozens of campaigns planned for 2020, but it became the single overarching, umbrella comprising all marketing and firm activity.


The response

With all sponsorship and event campaigns on hold, the entire marketing team pivoted efforts to support the RRT campaign for its immediate launch in March 2020. The team attributes its success to preparedness and training ahead of Covid-19.

To meet the demands of the new pandemic reality, the team was restructureed into eight cross-functional sprint teams, all with a variety of skillsets. These teams focused on brand messaging, community outreach and CSR, client solutions and content creation, economic insights, Covid-19 resource center creation, sales enablement creation, and virtual event development and execution.

A class of recently trained marketers led the team in agile practices to support RRT. Cross-functional sprint teams were deployed to best serve clients’ needs with timely content across platforms. Daily stand-up calls were brought in to check on all aspects of the campaign including podcasts, sales enablement materials, and weekly digest emails.

Before Covid-19,  teammates had completed a skills re-evaluation to identify areas of interest to further professional development. These assessments proved instrumental in the RRT launch to best match resources to cross-functional teams.

Grant Thornton developed and launched the Pandemic Risk Assessment tool to help companies benchmark against factors critical to resilience during the coronavirus pandemic. The assessment allows companies to enter business data into a quantitative risk-modeling engine that generates tailored scorecards, focusing on four key categories: cashflow management; people and labor; supply and demand; and hard-to-predict external factors.

A digital Covid-19 data resource center was created to help clients and prospects navigate the surrounding economic uncertainties. The resource center contains a variety of collateral and tools, including twice-weekly podcasts held by chief economist Diane Swonk and a webcasts series. Promotion consisted of email newsletters and social posts across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

With the arrival of Covid-19, the CSR strategy shifted to support a community approach through individual, brand and business led initiatives. Messaging promoting volunteering, safety and commitments to our clients were implemented across internal channels.


The results

Digital highlights included:

  • +200%-300% monthly sitewide traffic among target audience

  • 11-12x more monthly leads among our target audience

  • 521 subscribers for the weekly briefing and 198 for Diane Swonk podcasts

  • 207 leads requesting information from GT’s Covid-19 team

  • +131% monthly traffic from social to site

  • +224% monthly Twitter engagement

  • Two new newsletter series drove +145% open rate and +200% CTDR vs. YTD

  • +276% email to site traffic

  • 18 client wins impacted

  • 54 pipeline opporuntities.


<p><strong>This project was a winner at <a href=“ Drum Awards for Marketing</a> 2021. Find out <a href=“”>which competitions in The Drum Awards are currently open</a> and don&rsquo;t forget to visit our <a href=“”>new interactive calendar</a>.</strong></p>