Case Study - UNICOR

Case Study
Sparks shooting up from a welder working on a flat metal structure
unicor logo
Federal Government
Federal Government
Integrated Marketing
User Experience
Web Design

The business of second chances

How Tactis is helping shine a spotlight on the social and economic good of increasing successful inmate re-entry into society.

The Federal Prison Industries (FPI) program (now operating under the trade name UNICOR) was established in 1934 by an executive order issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its goal was to protect society and reduce crime by preparing inmates with job training and practical work skills for reentry success. Eighty years later, the program continues to operate at no cost to taxpayers and benefits communities across the US by creating safer prisons and reducing inmate recidivism. In Q4 2020, to navigate the ever-changing Federal contracting landscape, UNICOR partnered with Tactis for help with enhancing its marketing capabilities. Ultimately, Tactis was charged with conducting a cross-channel discovery and strategy effort to ensure the delivery of a successful short- and long-term marketing program, with a goal of an annual 8 – 10% sales growth.

An omni-tiered, omnichannel approach

Before beginning the process, Tactis outlined a four-pronged approach: To define the brand and true value proposition; To develop a marketing program that will find and educate targeted buyers on the value of choosing the brand; To transform UNICOR’s website into a content portal that guides, inspires, and drives buyers to action; And to measure, track and optimize UNICOR’s performance by continually improving the channel, content, and targeting strategy while simultaneously providing insights into product offering decision-making. The process, undertaken in a relatively short period of time, despite the challenge of COVID-19, included a materials review, stakeholder interviews, a content strategy, data analysis, user interviews, a social media review, a paid media audit, and a technology assessment. The resultant ‘vision’ document was created as an outline for moving ahead.

A digital solution for the road ahead

Based on what Tactis learned (and articulated in the Vision document), certain long-held positions were turned on their head, leading the agency to turn its focus to ‘purchase motivations.’ In the process, several important nuggets came to the surface. One was that in the customer ‘consideration’ stage, price was the leading motivator, followed by ease, past performance, and quality. Lower on the purchase motivation funnel was customization, timely delivery and social good. This helped produce a digital strategy designed to position the website as ‘UNICOR’s front door,’ in essence turning the site into a ‘digital representative.’ In addition, owing an identifiable lack of hands, a further strategy was posited, that of ensuring that the new web experience will be an ‘engaging content hub that guides, educates, inspires and facilitates each buyer type through the conversion process.’ This was especially pertinent when we learned that procurement officers spend 60% of their time simply trying to solicit information. Ultimately, the Vision document was well-received, leading the GM to say that the “team’s suggestions and feedback have been spot-on,” and for the contracting officer to proclaim that “everyone is really impressed with the team, you nailed it!”

Office Furniture

Office furniture is one of the many everyday products UNICOR workers produce.

A worker smiles at the camera as he screws a handle onto a cabinet drawer
Contact Center Services

Call centers and customer service are two of the many products and services UNICOR offers.

A UNICOR worker smiles at the camera as she works at a contact center terminal

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