May 08, 2001
SUMMARY: While it's always fun to read Case Studies about big famous companies, we've often found it's the little underdogs who are doing the most effective marketing that you can steal ideas from. Read this Case Study to learn how a small, start-up company used clever online marketing tactics to win some big corporate clients. (We especially like the white paper follow-up email idea.). || |
InternetVIZ, a company that produces email newsletters for corporations, launched at the worst possible time economically, February 2001. The two-person founding team didn't have loads of money to tide them through. Since InternetVIZ is a bootstrapping effort, Co-founder and Marketer Jason Kassel needed to think up guerrilla marketing ideas that would pay off fast.
First Kassel devised a basic, no-frills, site that would turn as many visitors as possible into named sales prospects. Instead of just collecting names through a single offer, the site has three distinct offers:
1. A free newsletter "VIZable Value" offer asking for email only.
2. A free prototype offer wherein marketers have to fill out a lengthy multi-question form to receive a newsletter prototype devised specifically for their company.
3. A free white paper offer asking for name and email address, plus permission to email the recipients six notes:
a. immediately - "hope you found the white paper interesting"
b. next day - a quick tutorial on the difference between direct mail and email including costs
c. four days out - "what permission marketing is all about", plus, an invitation to take a survey so "we can learn more about you"
d. eight days out - a quick tutorial on marketing with email newsletters
e. 10 days out - a quick tutorial on response measurement tactics and email newsletters
f. 12 days out - a quick note how InternetVIZ can help you create email newsletters
In order to drive visitors back to the site (where they will hopefully fill out the prototype offer and become a more qualified sales lead), each letter includes two links at the very bottom -- a link to a second white paper featuring statistics on newsletter marketing, and a link to the prototype offer itself.
The initial white paper itself is quite brief -- just 3-4 pages. Kassel says, "Nobody wants to read long papers anymore." He explains the idea behind adding on the additional email notes, "Many people still have no knowledge about how to do email marketing. The idea is to be general and to get them to focus over time." (See below for a link to info from another expert who recommends sending multiple-series notes as a sales tool.)
Kassel uses a mixture of time-tested guerrilla tactics to send qualified traffic to the site, including:
- Local PR: Kassel cold-called 15 companies in the Minneapolis area and asked them if they were planning on using email newsletters as a marketing tool. Then he sent the info her gathered as a "Survey Results" news release to the local business press.
- National PR: Kassel used his BusinessWire account to send general releases to the national press. He says, "I try to be as theatrical as I can. I'm positioning myself as an email evangelist."
- Web articles: Kassel planted articles about newsletter marketing in about a half-dozen related sites such as MediaPeak.com and IdeaMarketers.com.
- Newsletter ads: Aware that high tech companies are often early adopters when it comes to Internet marketing tactics, Kassel planted a banner ad in xfp Compass, an email newsletter read by about 15,000 ASP executives. (Note: Kassel worked a deal to get the ad space for free in exchange for help with the newsletter.)
So far four multinational companies, and several smaller corporations, have signed deals for InternetVIZ to create, produce and fulfill their email newsletters at prices ranging from $950-$1450 per month.
Kassel himself was surprised by his client's size. He says, "Originally we thought we'd attract a much smaller clientele, but we're really finding large corporations are much more interested in this."
Site visitors are far more likely to accept the free white paper offer than any other; however, those who request a prototype are more likely to become paying clients. (In fact so far InternetVIZ has a 50% close rate for prototype requesters.) Kassel recommends offering a prototype because it shortens sales cycles, "Prospects can show their boss what they want to buy from us. I think it speeds the sales cycle." His sales cycle so far from prototype to contract? Less than two weeks.
Kassel's PR activities got him "a little play" on both the local and national level, so he plans to continue them. The xsp Compass newsletter also worked, driving four qualified leads directly to the prototype request form.
PARTNERSHIPS: InternetVIZ is definitely interested in reseller agreements. If you bring them customers, they'll pay you 15% of the customer's first year business. Since the average customer pays about $15,000 a year, that's not a bad ancillary revenue stream for someone who wants to work it. Interested? Contact Kassel at firstname.lastname@example.org