As the Internet bursts at the seams with new B-to-B marketplace launches, new entrants furiously compete for members, capital and media attention. Working with a pre-VC marketing budget, WirelessVertical (a new Atlanta-based market maker for used wireless equipment) has signed some big-name telcos, lined up VC funding, and scored some quality media ink –- all in one month since launching May 1. We talked to founder and chairman Jim Caruso to find out how.
Q: As a new player, what else have you been doing to maximize your marketing results?
Caruso: We focused on where we could make an impact. We’ve maintained a geographic concentration in the South, going after carriers like BellSouth and Alltel, which are clients now. Also, we focused our PR on media here in Atlanta –- like The Atlanta Business Chronicle -- because we know that local VC read them. We also targeted the business dailies and weeklies around the country, but our local business community is a priority. Our heaviest focus was on print and Web-Based media, and we’ve probably gotten 12 pieces of major coverage, like in Fortune Magazine, in one month since we launched.
Q: What else has your PR firm brought to the table? [The company works with MediaFirst PR, Atlanta.]
Caruso: It’s unusual to find a PR firm that’s so narrowly focused on the Wireless arena. We chose our firm for their vertical expertise, but our account manager there has net marketplace experience. She hasn’t worked in wireless before, but the combination of her experience with the firm’s vertical focus makes a big difference. We did a ‘soft launch’ as you know, so a major part of our communications has been with VCs. Every Internet Market Maker that talks to VCs –- and to potential clients, for that matter -- has to show that you can’t do this by phone or fax. That’s what we’ve been trying to say in a lot of our PR.
Q: If you had to rank online marketing, PR and direct sales in order of importance, how would it go?
Caruso: Direct sales is by far the most important. We’ve been working on co-marketing deals with companies that have name brand customers, and we think that will give us a lot more recognition in the market. So that’s very important because we become a channel for them, and they become a channel for us. But PR and marketing absolutely have their place in there.
Q: What online marketing have you been doing, and what’s been your best online buy?
Caruso: We’ve gone after the most focused industry audiences we could find. We’ve bough banner ads from [wireless] associations, and in one case, we put a banner on a registration page that had no other banners on it. This is the page where the association lets people sign up and post listings for [equipment] offers and requests, so we know that the guys who are spending money are the ones that register. Those are my people right there. Our CEO found that one while he was surfing. We have a banner on the home page too, but we didn’t just want to be on the home page, which has too many ads in our opinion.
You know, when we announced our company, we got a flood of calls from people selling us banner ads. We said ‘this is the audience we’re trying to reach. Can you reach that audience?’ And they all went away. A lot of those banner ad networks don’t really bring the kind of targeting that we need.
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