For a big product launch, security appliance vendor Crossbeam Systems needed a special marketing effort. The marketing team was releasing a cutting-edge product protected by several new patents, but the face of their prospects and customers had changed.
In recent years, the demographic profile of the typical IT security professional had shifted from one of an established executive to a younger, more tech-savvy individual -- someone more attuned to the hackers they were trying to stop, says Jim Freeze, VP Marketing.
“The security space is one that’s moving so quickly,” Freeze says. “Security as separate business and function continues to evolve, and the people involved in it continue to evolve. You have a new generation that’s grown up with technology, and they’re a lot more comfortable with technology.”
When the team began planning their product launch, their goal wasn’t just to build buzz and generate leads. They wanted to shake up the traditional look and feel of networking security marketing and try new messages, channels and events that appeal to a younger audience. CAMPAIGN
The team developed a multichannel campaign with a ‘next-generation’ theme that combined electronic outreach with a series of in-person events to raise awareness and generate leads for their next-generation product. They designed marketing collateral and events to appeal to the hipper, more tech-savvy demographic.
Here are the five steps they took to design and implement the campaign:
-> Step #1. Create cutting-edge theme
The team tied together online components and in-person events with a unifying theme and design style for all marketing related to the launch. Their approach was intended to resonate with a younger audience:
- A campaign theme called “Generation Crossbeam” reiterated the next-generation nature of the new product and recognized the changing of the guard among networking security professionals.
- Marketing collateral was given an “urban” look that the team modeled on guerilla-style fliers or posters you might see stapled to the walls or telephone poles of a major city. For example, they used a block-print font.
- A Generation Crossbeam landing page incorporated the look and feel, along with information and interactive features designed to generate interest in the product and recruit attendees for in-person events.
Some of the important elements:
o Hero shot of a younger, hipper-looking male executive to appeal to the predominantly young, male prospect audience
o Online quiz to test visitors’ technical expertise and knowledge of the company (with hints available in product data sheets and other supporting collateral)
o Giveaway of long-sleeved, black T-shirt, printed with Generation Crossbeam logo in the same distressed font
-> Step #2. Email teaser campaign
Leading up to the launch, the team orchestrated a six-week email “teaser” campaign to promote the new product:
- HTML emails featured a puzzle design with missing pieces that obscured the Generation Crossbeam logo (see creative samples) and provided clues about the new product’s cutting-edge features and functionality.
- The first email used the subject line, “It’s coming - and Crossbeam wants to know if you are ready” and a tag line that told readers to “stay tuned for next week’s revelation.”
- Subsequent emails used the subject line, “Another week, and Crossbeam shares another clue,” and had another piece of the puzzle filled in.
- A final email completed the Generation Crossbeam image and included a hotlink to the landing page, where readers could request more information, take the quiz to win a T-shirt and see a list of upcoming events.
The team worked primarily from its internal email marketing list of customers and prospects. But it also incorporated contacts from its channel partners and ISP partners, sending nearly 20,000 emails worldwide.
-> Step #3. Host exclusive, in-person events
The team planned a series of small, in-person marketing events to preview the new product and offer customers and selected prospects the chance to discuss the technology. Their goal was to attract about 25 people to each event.
The team scheduled events in areas that represented its best market opportunities:
o New York City
o Washington, DC
o San Francisco
In those cities, they chose hip, unique venues and planned evening cocktail and dinner receptions. For example, they hosted the New York event at the private rooftop garden of the Gramercy Park Hotel.
Again, they turned to their in-house customer and prospect database, segmenting names by geography to send email invitations that used the same look and feel as the Generation Crossbeam landing page and teaser emails. The invitations played up the events’ exclusivity and required attendees to RSVP by telephone or through an online registration page.
-> Step #4. Host events at industry trade shows
The team also planned special events at major IT security industry conferences to maintain momentum. Like the marketing collateral and regional receptions, these events were geared toward a younger demographic.
At the Gartner IT Security Summit, for instance, the team hosted an evening cocktail reception that offered visitors the chance to get a temporary airbrush tattoo.
Registration was not required for the event. Both print and email invitations were sent to customers and prospects.
- Its database was segmented for existing customers and past Gartner summit attendees.
- Targeted customers and prospects received a print mailing that included a personalized letter from their sales representative; it invited them to check out the new generation of Crossbeam products and to “Get Inked” at the company’s cocktail reception.
- Generation Crossbeam T-shirts were offered to visitors to the company’s booth and cocktail party in exchange for a business card.
-> Step #5. Follow up with leads
All contacts generated through the multichannel campaign were logged into the company’s CRM system with specific tags. Tags indicated which touch point they had responded to (e.g., answered the quiz, attended a cocktail/dinner seminar, visited a trade-show booth or cocktail party).
The sales team followed up with leads in appropriate ways. For example:
- Attendees at regional events were contacted by a sales rep offering additional information, product demos or an invitation to schedule a meeting to discuss the new product.
- Trade show visitors received an email thanking them for visiting a booth or the cocktail reception and offering them the opportunity to speak with a sales representative.
Taking a risk with a new approach paid off. the campaign delivered both the awareness and new opportunities they needed for their new product. After the June 2007 effort, the company’s third-quarter performance was its best ever, although the company declined to disclose the number of leads generated.
“Part of what any good marketing company does is not only understand how their products and solutions fit and solve the business needs for the customer, but also understand who ultimately the influencers and decision makers are in a company,” Freeze says. “And your marketing efforts need to reflect that.”
The teaser email campaign helped set the tone and build buzz for subsequent events. The first email generated a 25% open rate, with follow-up emails offering additional clues continuing to generate open rates of greater than 10%.
As a bonus, the teasers also generated a handful of email responses and phone calls from existing customers to their sales representatives, asking for the scoop on the announcement. Those contacts gave sales reps a natural opening to start talking about the new product.
Response to the exclusive, regional events was also strong, with many events having expand to meet demand. In New York City, they had to accommodate 70 guests -- nearly three times the 25 they had hoped for.
Trade show events also hooked a potentially jaded crowd. The tattoo cocktail party at Gartner’s IT Security Summit attracted more than 400 attendees, with a line stretching out the door.
Above all, the campaign has laid a strong foundation for how the company plans to talk to its prospects and customers going forward, with a more aggressive and buzz-building message that goes beyond the standard marketing bullet points around product functionality and efficiency. Useful links related to this article
Creative samples from Crossbow’s product launch:
Davies Murphy Group - helped design and implement the campaign:
Eloqua - marketing automation software the team used to manage and track email communications and online interactions:
Salesforce.com - CRM system used to manage follow-up communication between sales representatives and customers and prospects: