Aug 07, 2001
SUMMARY: At MarketingSherpa's 'Marketing to the Global 2000 Breakfast' brainstorming session last week, attendees noted that beyond marketing to official decision makers and obvious influencers, marketers must also reach out to evangelists within companies.
These evangelists are not always easy to recognize by title. They may be very senior, or not. What's important is that they are passionate about the company problem that your product solves. If you can get your information to them, they may share it with the influencers and/or decision makers via email, by intranet postings, and handouts for committee meetings.
Here's a Case Study on one company...
"We have very focused goals," says Brian Fitzgerald EMC's Director of Promotional Programs, "There are 20,000 companies in the world that can buy our stuff."
EMC has been marketing its data information storage systems online for several years, starting with what Fitzgerald admits was a "brochureware" Web site that's since evolved into a deep source of both product and technology information.
Fitzgerald says, "This January we wanted to take the next step up the food chain. We have an evangelical sales pitch. People have to believe in an idea -- have information-centric view of IT versus the 30 years' legacy that IT is about making tech work -- before they buy our products."
The Company already had a series of marketing systems in place to keep these evangelists warm until they matured enough as leads for the sales team to step into the process. These included new white papers and focused Webinars available at EMC.com. EMC also published a twice-monthly email newsletter, consisting of links to new information items on its site.
It was Fitzgerald's task to gather, educate and feed new evangelists into that hopper. He says, "I needed to draw people in, regardless of title, who were interested in change and business transformation and using information as a competitive tool." By his own rough estimation, there were probably about 60,000 potential evangelists of that nature in EMC's target marketplace.
Fitzgerald had been testing sponsorship logos and banners on niche content Web sites since 1999. He says, "We'd create a new raft of creative every 60 days."
He found the most successful banners were highly topical, offering information on a specific problem or business need such as how to re-deploy network storage. The click throughs from these banners were most effective for EMC when they landed deep within EMC's site onto directly related topical materials. (In other words, nothing just went to the home page!)
These results turned Fitzgerald into a content-believer. He decided to test launching a second company email newsletter, which would be an educational tool in and of itself rather than just serving as a pointer back to the Web site. This way prospects could learn without clicking, and have valuable information in their hands to forward to others.
But Fitzgerald definitely didn't want to write this newsletter in-house. He says, "That's not the business we are in. Every company on this planet has done issue one volume one of a newsletter and issue two never gets out the door! You concentrate on other things." So he decided to give the task of creating and publishing this newsletter to the editors at TechTarget's SearchStorage.com.
This niche content site had been producing up to four to five times the banner and sponsorship click through rate for EMC than other more general sites had done. Plus, Fitzgerald simply liked the editorial team, "They were terrific. I knew we'd get a quality product. And the third party branding is great. They're becoming a more credible brand around this information and we're leveraging that brand."
While Fitzgerald certainly brought article ideas to the table, he didn't want the newsletter to turn into advertorial (articles which mix advertising and editorial indistinguishably.) He says, "They're the editors. We don't review and approve editorial. It's no different from choosing to go into Fortune magazine. You know the editorial they'll run will appeal to people. You need that quality of the editorial product or nobody's going to read it. Then it has the chance to be a good communications vehicle for you."
The new twice-monthly email newsletter, entitled 'The Information Architect', launched in February 2001. Each issue prints out to just over two pages and focuses on a single topic, such as Web load balancing. Instead of boring subject lines, newsletters are identified in recipients' inboxes with their actual subject. The HTML layout is very clean and free of graphics. In fact it looks just like text-only, except there are bold headlines and subheads to make reading easier. (See below for link to sample issue.)
EMC's ads in the newsletter are also text-based with no banners or graphics. They feature quick, straight-forward offers for more educational materials on the subject at hand. Click through links go directly to the area of EMC.com where those particular educational materials reside. Often the materials are by another well-branded third party -- for example a white paper by IDC.
TechTarget is clearly identified as the publisher and copyright owner for the newsletter. EMC is simply the sponsor.
The Information Architect launched in February 2001 with an opt-in list gathered by SearchStorage.com of about 20,000 names. Since then, without any further aggressive marketing, the opt-in list has hit the 60,000 total that Fitzgerald aimed for.
The content was useful enough that the initial 20,000 emailed their colleagues and got the right people in each prospect company to also sign up of their own accord. Fitzgerald plans to hold it steady without further marketing. He says, "60,000 was the critical mass. Much larger than that and they can't all be qualified."
He's already learned that The Information Architect readers are far more responsive to EMC offers than any other list. Recently EMC was trying to drum up interest in a Webcast by using banners on top performing sites, running offers in its own in-house newsletter and even asking the sales team to personally invite folks. However, Fitzgerald says, "We didn't get the registration we wanted. Then we ran an offer in The Information Architect and registration quadrupled in 48 hours. I don't think it was our creative. I give them credit for it."
Fitzgerald says EMC's sales are currently growing by about 30% a year; however, by using email newsletters and offering other marketing collateral for free download online, the company's spending on printing has been falling by about 30% per year. Fitzgerald says, "That's a tremendous real cost savings."