NAI Direct, one of the largest commercial real estate organizations in the world with more than 3,400 professional members worldwide, needed to introduce the press, investors and members to their complex new Web site enabling transactions over the Internet. VP Marketing Robert Verstege walked us through their unique campaign.
Verstege felt a full demonstration of the new site was needed, “People need to experience it, to touch it. With space ads they just don’t have that opportunity. If they go to the site by themselves they may not understand the full benefits. You need a teacher, otherwise people say, ‘yes it’s a nice site but how much is there for me?’”
So NAI Direct decided to launch with a webcast demonstration. The President walked attendees through the functions of the site for about half an hour and then answered live questions emailed in for about ten minutes. “We debated whether the Webcast should be 30 minutes or an hour,” said Verstege, “40 minutes felt right and no one left the site until the presentation ended.”
Verstege used a two-step approach to get highly qualified attendees to attend. First they cast out a net of invitations to generate interest. “We used our PR agency’s strength to reach the more general press, BusinessWeek, CNN and the like. We used our personal strength to get to the industry people who already knew who we were.” The company also ran a half page ad in the US and International editions of the Wall Street Journal, which generated about 100 emailed enquiries from qualified investors, potential clients and press.
Next NAI Direct ran a follow-up campaign two days before the event to maximize attendance. “We followed up via email to the individuals we didn’t have a strong personal relationship with already. The others we actually called on the phone. About 20% said they wouldn’t be able to attend so we asked them for the name of someone else in their office. We got a good response from that, people gave us replacement names and they did attend!”
Verstege timed the Webcast cleverly to take place during an exhibit hall break at a major industry conference. “We got a 40 inch monitor and about qualified 20 attendees we’d invited there standing at our booth watching it. They felt it showed everything about the product that was promised was given, so they were happy.”
After the presentation Verstege followed up with thank-you emails asking for input on the site and presentation. “Many attendees responded back asking for more information.”
NOTES: Verstege doubled the usefulness of this webcast by putting a canned version onto the site for future visitors to use. He also had a CD ROM version created to send to all 3,400 NAI Direct members around the world who could use them to explain the site’s benefits more easily to their local real estate clients.
COSTS: The webcast only cost about $26,000 to produce. NAI Direct spent an additional $20,000 having the related CD ROM produced.
VENDORS: PR was managed by The Star Group. The video webcast and CD ROM were created by MediaLink.com. Visit their site for a handy “Web Casting Handbook.”
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