SeaWell chose a seasoned sales team with existing industry contacts to facilitate leads. This meant that the focus of the marketing efforts was on raising awareness and building a trusted brand that represented category thought leadership.
The cable and telecom space is rife with competition, and establishing a new brand with that kind of background noise – and limited funding – is no small order. Cable, in particular, is an insular group, where information about new technology is spread through a known network. SeaWell needed to influence from within – to break into the “club” and win over converts who would become brand champions and spread the word about our unique approach.
Air Cover. We were very careful to choose a PR company who knew the specific industry players. We too, forged personal relationships with influential pundits, in order to secure vital speaking slots and / or contributed article placements. Most expert panels and speaking opportunities are chosen based on existing customers, making it very hard for a startup with few customers (or ones you can’t yet talk about) to get air time. Knowing which opportunities would pan out, and which industry pundits were likely to write about this specific niche was imperative in SeaWell getting industry coverage.
Tactical Strikes. With startup funding, each media or trade show spend must be weighed carefully, to ensure maximum impact. At SeaWell we researched which shows our target customers attended, and bought the best booth / sponsorship locations we could afford. This paid off well and within a year to 18 months, people regularly recognized the brand and were actively seeking out our demo. Once the brand had been established, we rented suites in adjacent hotels and saved costs for all but the most important shows.
Cannon Fodder. As our senior sales team often knew the target, the marketing focus has to turn to the small end of the funnel: helping to close the deal. We worked closely with sales to craft sales decks and accompanying product collateral that was hard-hitting, including feature leadership and specific benefits. We worked hard to produce professional (preferably third party) articles about us to sales, that could be presented in the meeting or used as an excuse for a follow up email. We also produced an extensive spreadsheet for follow-on meetings that the customer could use to calculate the ROI of using SeaWell by entering their own viewership and cost numbers.
A few unique approaches are worth singling out, as they showed traction in this targeted B2B environment:
Community of Experts. As ABR video delivery is a niche field, those that are experts are going to want to interact, to stay on top of trends. I created a list of known bloggers, thought leaders and influencers, and began interviewing them individually about the possibility of creating a community of ABR experts. While we did discuss the possibility of incentives (attending a trade show or joining us on an expert panel), the group was largely motivated by information exchange. The interviews themselves yielded significant insights into our target market as well as overall multiscreen delivery trends. Several contacts offered up qualified sales leads, and one individual even added us into an important upcoming presentation.
Content Marketing. In the last year, we developed a content marketing strategy, with weekly blogs and a monthly newsletter, to garner interest in what we were doing and to demonstrate thought leadership. Alas, SeaWell was purchased (by Arris in April 2014) before we could really see concrete results in terms of lead generation. However, we got a lot of positive feedback about our pieces, which tied in nicely to the work around building an expert community. Outside of lead gen, B2B content marketing has multiple benefits that should not be overlooked: a) it provides regular cannon fodder, both for the PR / social media machines but also for direct sales (“did you see our recent blog?”); b) it catches the ear of other industry specialists, who are all influencers and tend to comment on each others’ blogs, and c) it establishes credibility, and adds weight for those doing due diligence.
In a very short period of time, SeaWell’s brand become known throughout the ABR delivery niche as one that was delivering unique and powerful technology. Before it was bought by Arris (April 2014) to be a core piece of their overall video platform, SeaWell delivered on its promises by supporting hundreds of channels and millions of dynamically-inserted advertisements for a tier 1 cable customer.