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May 21, 2001
Case Study

PlaceWare Web Conferencing Wins 1,500 Clients By Dividing Its Broad Marketplace into Vertical Niches

SUMMARY: PlaceWare Web Conferencing has a classic marketing problem: its product is something pretty much every marketer in the universe could use. But, you can easily go broke marketing a product for everyone to everyone. Learn how they avoided that fate by researching key sales points for each of four selected vertical markets:
1. B-to-B high tech,
2. Pharmaceuticals,
3. Financial services,
4. Very large service organizations.

PlaceWare Web Conferencing has a classic marketing problem: its product is something pretty much every marketer in the universe could use. But, you can easily go broke marketing a product for everyone to everyone.

PlaceWare Senior PR Manager Kathryn Romley told us how they avoided that fate.


First PlaceWare's marketing team researched the potential client universe looking for "silos" -- vertical marketplaces that were growing quickly and were known to be early tech adopters. In the end they decided to focus almost 100% on four distinct verticals:

1. B-to-B high technology -- Yes, this is pretty much a 'duh' obvious target; but PlaceWare's implementation was anything but duh. Instead of placing a bunch of general ads in high tech magazines, PlaceWare first researched high tech companies needs and desires.

They learned that they had two audiences at high tech firms who needed to be pitched in different ways: marketers versus sales managers. Romley explains, "For marketers it's a cost savings message -- reduce your lead acquisition cost. For sales it's about lining their pockets more quickly by reducing the sales cycle time."

2. Pharmaceutical industry -- PlaceWare's marketers learned that most pharmaceuticals only allow a new drug introduction three years to turn a profit. So the Company targeted this marketplace with messages explaining how Web conferencing could speed time to market, more quickly educate doctors and shorten sales cycles.

3. Financial Services -- PlaceWare targeted marketers in this industry with three distinct messages. They told investment relations (IR) professionals how Web conferencing could improve an IPO by expanding road shows beyond the road; they told marketers targeting "high rollers" how analysts could use Web conferencing for private portfolio reviews; and they told marketers targeting the general public how Web conferences could help educate prospects about the, potentially confusing, plethora of financial products available online today.

4. Big professional services firms such as Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu -- These firms' marketers care most about increasing billable hours, so PlaceWare concentrated on messages explaining how Web conferencing could help them do that.

Once the specific messages for each marketplace were chosen, PlaceWare's marketers rolled out campaigns across a variety of targeted media, including ads in vertical trade magazines and email newsletter sponsorships. The offer was either a free trial, or a ticket to attend a free Web conference on a marketing topic. All leads fed into PlaceWare's marketing database. The Company then rolled out ongoing marketing communications campaigns, including email newsletters and more free conferences. In fact currently PlaceWare puts on 4-5 Web conferences aimed at educating marketers every week. Romley says, "We eat our own dogfood."


PlaceWare has more than 1,500 corporate clients including Microsoft, IBM, Johnson & Johnson and American Express. The company is currently the dominant player in the Web conferencing space.

Be jealous -- PlaceWare has collected a database of more than 100,000 corporate marketers and sales managers who've responded to its offers and voluntarily joined its announcement lists. Many repeatedly attend the Company's educational Web conferences.

What's worked? Romley says two tactics have really stood out in terms of gathering highly qualified sales leads: email newsletter sponsorships and keyword ads on "We love Google!" she says.
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