The Blood Center Era

In late 2002, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center hired NextLevel Thinking to craft and help them execute a strategy to increase blood donations. The impressive results the firm produced at Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (Houston) led to work at the San Diego Blood Bank, The Blood Center of Central Texas (Austin), United Blood Services (Arizona), Life Source (Chicago), and Central Blood Bank (Pittsburgh).

The story of our blood center era is best told by Mary Walter-Brown, former Marketing Manager for the San Diego Blood Bank, in a white paper written in 2009. Below is an excerpt:

“I struggled with many of the same challenges that marketing professionals around the world grapple with – how do you create a compelling enough message to motivate the public to do something that could be out of their comfort zone.

Before our journey began with NextLevel Thinking, SDBB was constantly struggling to maintain an adequate blood supply for the hospitals it serves in and around San Diego County. Supplies dropped so low in the summer and around the holidays that the organization often resorted to issuing emergency pleas for blood through the media. These appeals caused momentary spikes in collections but never produced the sustained donating trends that we desperately needed to establish.

To achieve our goal of recruiting new blood donors and increasing the number of donations by our existing donors, we created a multi-platform recruitment and retention strategy incorporating email, mail, telemarketing, website development, radio/television advertising and internal customer service outreach. 

Every communication touch point was integrated with each other, so the messages were all consistent. By utilizing these various communication mediums, we found that we were able to start “connecting” with our donors using one or more of the methods that were most convenient to them. 

We created a simple story and straightforward steps that would explain how people could “make a difference in life.” All we asked is that they donate “one more time each year.”  For new donors, that meant one donation. For an existing donor, it was one additional visit. 

Within three years, we had increased collections by 26% and began tackling other challenges like managing an ever-growing inventory of blood products. 

During those three years, we experimented with many different tactics for improving our results, but we never deviated from the core strategy.”

The Blood Center Era is a great example of clear and consistent messaging making a huge difference in a company’s success. Our team helped SDBB and many other blood centers develop a marketing strategy that confidently articulated their “why” and connected with current and potential donors. This led to results that not only positively impacted the blood centers, but the many individuals in need of blood across the country.


20 Years