Many Touches Make Light Work
By Brian Howard
When a company moves into a new business market, creating awareness is vital, but not necessarily enough. It must create an impression of expertise. For Candle Corp.—whose PathWAI solutions are a set of tools for companies using IBM's WebSphere technology—teaching prospects about PathWAI, as well as about WebSphere, is an important part of the sales process.
"A year ago, if people asked who had the expertise in [WebSphere], they wouldn't necessarily have known to think of Candle," says Mark Morrissey, vice president of worldwide marketing for Candle. "We had to build awareness, and we weren't going to do that by shoving product at them. We had to make sure that every time they saw us, heard us, we were adding value."
Candle devised a multi-touch, multichannel program for introducing themselves to prospects as WebSphere experts and then nurturing these prospects along the buying cycle. First, however, Candle had to figure out who its prospects were.
"You can't go out and buy a list of people using WebSphere. And we weren't going to cold call," says Morrissey. By e-mailing to industry periodical lists, Candle identified who was using WebSphere and which lists performed best. Candle also advertised on industry sites where people might turn for best practices—running banners, placing articles and hosting Webinars.
Once the target audience was identified, the next step was a sequence of four or five e-mails with value-added offers such as white papers, tips and tricks, and analyst reports.
Candle used all these touches to collect contact and qualifying information. Moving into 2003, Candle reports it had received 45,000 responses.
What Candle did from here was to continue to reinforce its position as an expert. "We invited responders to Webinars, not about PathWAI, but about solving specific [WebSphere] problems," explains Morrissey. "And we invited them to regional field events, such as a series of best practices road shows done jointly with IBM."
Each time a prospect heard from Candle, that prospect came away with a new piece of information.
But with so many potential contacts—some prospects responded as many as five times—tracking individual respondents was imperative.
"We used Siebel as an integrating mechanism," says Morrissey. The CRM software allowed Candle to keep a record of each and every interaction. "One of the ways you can detract from your value is to look like the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," explains Morrissey. "When you go to qualification, you want to know what that person has responded to in the past, and see what the notes were from the last conversation."
So which media combination worked best? "Not surprisingly, the highest quality leads result from multiple touches via e-mail or Web, followed by a Webinar, followed by attendance at a regional field marketing event," says Morrissey. "When they see the live expert, they're much more open to seeing us on site."
The only problem? "Often they want the expert they saw at the event, which isn't necessarily possible," laughs Morrissey.