Vico Software sells “5-D'' modeling software to commercial general contractors. The “virtual construction” software goes beyond 3-D modeling by allowing contractors to click on a building element and pull up detailed information such as lead times for materials, number of people required to complete the task and the hourly rate it will cost to build. Until this past fall, Vico Software was having a tough time competing for search placement.
“Everything we wrote was seeded with the words "virtual construction,'” said Holly Allison, VP-marketing for Boulder, Colo.-based Vico Software. “That was great, but only 500 people search for the term each month. We couldn't touch the term that everyone searches for—BIM, or building information management or model. The industry giant owns that keyword, and there's no way we are going to be able to steal that away.''
The trick, she said, would be to create a new keyword that would gain market attention and create leverage in the search world. Allison started using the term “5D BIM” in all of Vico's marketing collateral, including its e-mail newsletter, which is posted on the company's Web site once it's sent out. The company also started using the term in its webinars, e-mail sponsorship advertising and search campaigns.
“Anything that could be picked up [by a search engine], crawled or scanned got the term added to it,'' she said.
For example, the company does a weekly webinar for contractors called “Fridays With Vico.'' It sponsors an e-mail newsletter distributed by the Associated General Contractors of America and plays up the term and the webinar in that venue. It also promotes the webinar in its own e-mail marketing messages. All the images, logos and wording are the same, with each tailored to the specific channel.
“It's much more economical for us to take the same graphic element and reuse it rather than build new elements for each thing we do. And as the copywriter, it's so much easier to write an invitation to a webinar and whittle [it] down for online ads or the newsletter or Web site than have to start from scratch every time,'' she said. It also gives prospects and clients the same messaging no matter what they are reading or looking at, she added.
The strategy has helped Vico gain attention for its new keyword, so much so that today 25% of all new leads come from e-mails and in-bound callers, many of whom are asking or writing specifically about 5D BIM.
In the second half of 2008, Web site traffic grew by 62% and newsletter open rates increased to 19.1%, with 12.4% of those who opened clicking through on a desired action.
“We recently attended an industry conference, and we were walking to lunch when someone introduced themselves to us. When we said who we were, they said, "Oh, you're the “Fridays With Vico” people.' It's wonderful to know that this type of branding and integration puts a personality to the brand that we never could have afforded if we were trying to buy it,'' Allison said. M