August 15, 2007
Case Study

How to Turn a Trade Show Speech Into a Podcast That Becomes a Lead Machine

SUMMARY: Don’t have enough marketing material at the beginning of your lead cycle? A software company servicing the banking industry turned a client’s speech at the industry’s big trade show into an educational podcast.

As a result, their cost per lead dropped 71%. They also closed millions of dollars in new business, and the podcast is still being used to generate leads.
When Michael Williams was Marketing Director at Global Management Technologies Corp. (GMT), he had to please a frustrated sales team. The sales cycle for their workforce optimization software for the banking industry lasted at least six months, but the sales reps had no marketing materials available to start conversations with prospects early in buying cycle.

“All our marketing materials were product focused -- we offered spec sheets and other product-centric documents. Even our Web site was more like an online brochure,” Williams says.

Williams, who now consults for GMT, and his team needed to develop new material that would educate prospects about their software and generate leads for the sales team. He had experimented with white papers but saw the marketplace flooded with software white papers.

Instead, he wanted to try a podcast, but his bosses were skeptical. For starters, they didn’t think C-level banking executives listened to podcasts. Plus, they had other marketing priorities and didn’t want Williams dedicating time and resources to such a long-shot tactic. Williams needed to test a podcast that required minimal investment, yet would be compelling enough to generate high-quality leads.

Williams saw a solution in the company’s annual appearance at an industry conference. Their big investment as an exhibitor gained them a speaking slot. If they could craft a great presentation, record it and make it available online afterward, they could stretch the impact of their costs while gain the lead generating content they needed. Plus, they would have a marketing tool that helped differentiate GMT from their competitors.

Here are the six steps Williams and his team used to turn that trade show appearance into a lead generating podcast:

-> Step #1. Select customer to give testimonial presentation

GMT usually sent an executive to give a product-specific presentation at the annual banking conference. But Williams knew that a presentation from a satisfied customer, describing the results they achieved from the company’s software, would be more compelling.

Williams went though their customer list to find what he called the “top five customer champions” -- companies that reported significant cost reductions and efficiency improvements from the software. They interviewed a key executive from each to learn more about the results they achieved and to gauge how exciting or eloquent a public speaker they might be.

One customer who hadn’t already gone public with their results was singled out. This way, the testimonial provided a new case study for prospects. The customer had impressive results to relay, including:
o $2.2 million in savings in less than a year
o 8% reduction in full-time hours

Williams asked the customer if they would agree to give a speech at the trade show, which would be recorded for download later. He convinced the executive by describing it as a presentation to a select audience of the bank’s peers and offered to pay for the speaker’s trip to Las Vegas, where the conference was held.

-> Step #2. Publicize the presentation and podcast before the event

With the speaker secured, Williams publicized the presentation to conference attendees.

- Using a list from the trade show organizers, they sent an email two weeks before the show, inviting attendees to the presentation and highlighting the chance to learn about the customer’s positive results.

- The preshow email also invited attendees to preregister for the podcast, which would be available one week after the show. The preregistration offer was a way to gauge the potential interest in a podcast among bank executives.

-> Step #3. Record the presentation

Williams admits he “had no clue how to make a podcast” when he devised the plan. However, after reading about it online, they were able to get ready in time to record the trade show presentation.

They bought a $100 digital voice recorder with a jack for an external microphone. The day of the presentation, he asked the audio-visual team running the trade show’s media to hook the recorder directly into the public address system in the room so they would get a high-quality recording.

-> Step #4. Edit recording for podcast

As Williams hoped, the customer presenting his testimonial was very articulate, giving a good raw file to work with. Still, they made some minor edits to turn the audio into a podcast:

- Using free MP3 editing software, they cleaned up extraneous noises, pauses and other distracting moments. For example, they cut out the “ums,” and times when the speaker coughed or cleared his throat. They also cut the gap between the speaker’s introduction and the time he actually started speaking.
- They deleted sections of the presentation not directly related to the customer’s success with GMT software. For example, a section during which the customer talked about a subsequent technology purchase that they made in addition to GMT’s product was edited out.
- Theme music and a voiceover that described the origin of the recording and introduced the speaker was added.

All told, the editing reduced a 45-minute talk to a 36-minute podcast, just slightly longer than Williams’ goal of 30 minutes.

-> Step #5. Host MP3 file on company homepage behind registration form

They hosted the podcast on the company’s Web site in order to collect registration information and pass leads to the sales team. The registration page described the podcast’s content and highlighted some of the key results from the customer testimonial.

To access the MP3 file, users were asked to provide:
o Name
o Job title
o Financial institution
o Email address
o Telephone number

The registration page was integrated with the company’s CRM software program so leads automatically populated the sales database.

- After registering, listeners could either download the MP3 file to play on their own computer or listen to the podcast online through their browser-based media program, such as Windows Media Player.

- Registered users also could choose to have the podcast sent via RSS feed to a personal homepage, such as a MyYahoo! page or a Google homepage.

-> Step #6. Promote the podcast with email and search campaigns

To reach as many prospects as possible, Williams and his team also launched simultaneous email campaigns to different lists and a search marketing campaign. “You have to cover all your bases. Don’t rely on any single method to promote your podcast campaign.”

Email campaigns included messages to:
o The company’s existing prospect database
o Conference attendees who didn’t sit through the presentation
o Selected peers of the company featured in the podcast based on the size and profile of the bank and using subject lines and body copy that invited them to learn how their competitor reduced costs and improved efficiency

They also designed a Google and Yahoo! pay-per-click campaign based on relevant keywords for the podcast’s content, such as:
o Bank teller staffing software
o Workforce optimization for banks
The podcast not only convinced his company's skeptics, it surpassed Williams’ expectations. More than nine times the number of people who attended the conference presentation listened to the podcast. Of those podcast listeners, 16.7% were considered highly qualified leads that their sales team aggressively pursued. They have already closed two deals with a total value of more than $2 million and have several more in the pipeline.

Williams is optimistic about closing even more deals because the podcast has given the sales team an opening to deliver more marketing content. All of the highly qualified prospects who listened to the podcast have since received a demo of the software, and historical data shows that prospects who receive a demo have a 60% closure rate. “Sales has a better chance now, because on the front end they have a really compelling podcast that gives us an edge.”

The podcast also dramatically increased the ROI from the trade show expense. Thanks to the additional leads generated by the recorded file, the company’s cost per lead declined 71%.

Their analysis of where listeners came from proved the importance of a multichannel marketing strategy. Roughly a third of listeners came from the email sent to the conference attendee list, a third came from the email to the company’s own prospect database and a third came through search.

While the email messages to prospects and conference attendees garnered the most C-level executive listeners, the search campaign delivered one of the largest deals closed so far.

Useful links related to this article

Creative samples from GMT's trade show podcast:

Audacity - the MP3 editing software GMT used:

FeedBurner, the program used to make the podcast available via RSS feed:

Michael Williams’ Web site:

Global Management Technologies Inc.:

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