Calling all control freaks!

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The reality is that most b-to-b products and services are … well … a little boring. Sure there are exceptions (biometric scanners come to mind), but the vast majority of b-to-b offerings are aimed at appealing to an executive’s bottom-line rather than his or her cool quotient.

At Approva, we face that challenge every day. Eyes don’t necessarily light up at a cocktail party when you tell someone that you market enterprise software that monitors financial controls. So when we launched our new product suite, Approva One, we knew we needed some serious creativity to not only appeal to our prospects’ pocketbook but do it in a way that showcased Approva’s personality, passion and expertise in all things related to continuous controls monitoring (CCM). Eight months later, our key takeaways provide insights that are useful to anyone selling innovative B2B products that require a little extra pizzazz.

Campaign in a nutshell

Under the slogan, “You can call us Control Freaks. We call it good business!” our interactive “Control Freak” campaign embraced and celebrated the often-unfair portrayal of the average Control Freak that many of our prospects in the finance, IT and audit departments at Fortune 1000 endure ever.

The cornerstone of the campaign was the creation of a campaign microsite that was independent of Approva’s corporate identity and which served as the destination for social media promotions. The major components of the campaign included The Official Control Freak eHandbook, two-minute “Should’ve Had a Control Freak” videos, an “Out of Control” survey series, the Control Freak blog, “I Love Control Freak” buttons to hand out at tradeshows and a virtual 3-D city called “Onetropolis,” where visitors could see first-hand what it’s like when Control Freaks run the show.

Lessons learned

Here are the top three lessons our team took away from the campaign:

Lesson No. 1: Lay breadcrumbs. When building awareness of a new product (or your company) it’s important to ease prospects into it. All of our campaign elements were essentially “infotainment”—informative material about continuous controls monitoring presented in a fun and memorable way with a link at the end to our corporate website. Within six months of the campaign’s launch, traffic to the site had increased 203%. More important, visitors spent 165% more time on our site. Our sales pipeline increased 106%, and revenue for the company’s new product suite increased 77%. No small feat for a company in a niche market.

Lesson No. 2: Put people first. Marketers love to talk about their products. But before prospects are willing to listen they want to know that you understand who they are. A marketing campaign that demonstrates this can differentiate you and—more important—earn you the chance to describe what your product actually does. Our “I Love Control Freak” buttons have been a hit at tradeshows with word of mouth driving traffic to our booth from our core prospect base. By using the pins’ slogan as an icebreaker we’ve had three times as many in-depth conversations and demos with prospects who would normally just grab and go.

Lesson No. 3: Create social media-ready content. The days of pitching stories to the trade press are long gone. Clicks are king and high-quality original content is a b-to-b marketer’s most effective tool for driving awareness and engaging with prospects. However, to maximize impact your content needs to be “social media ready.” It has to be easy to consume, easy to forward and tailored to your audience. By directing people to our campaign landing page we were able to not only reach new prospects that weren’t in our database but hold their attention when they clicked through by cross-pollinating other content from the campaign.

At Approva, we’re just gearing up for phase II of the campaign, and we’ll be sharing additional lessons over the coming months. In the meantime, share your comments about what’s working for you when it comes to building awareness for your products.

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