Kodak scans the horizon for small-business opportunities

By Published on .

Most Popular

Objective: To introduce Kodak's smallest, cheapest desktop scanner for small businesses while reinforcing the company's full line of scanning options.

Strategy: To develop a multitouch online and offline campaign in prelaunch, launch and postlaunch phases, using direct mail, e-mail and "PURLs," along with trade show demonstrations.

Results: Over a six-month period, Kodak sold 20% more ScanMates than anticipated. Sales were seven times the cost of the campaign, versus the expected five or six times.

Eastman Kodak Co. is no stranger to change. The company's onetime bread-and-butter business, film cameras and film stock, was decimated by the rise of digital photography, and today the Rochester, N.Y.-based multinational focuses primarily on digital imaging and digital printing.

But the company's involvement in document imaging also has had its share of industry upheaval. Here, Kodak's newest product, the ScanMate i1120, introduced in March 2008, presents a compelling example of how the company addressed that upheaval and successfully introduced a new product.

Kodak is a leader in producing scanning equipment (major competitors include Fujitsu and Xerox Corp.) but, Rod Hughes, director of the company's marketing-document imaging group, said the niche underwent a paroxysm of change following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"Timeliness in document archiving and the need for more distributed capture have now become critical," Hughes said. Consequently, companies are moving away from big, centralized scanning equipment and instead buying multiple personal units.

"As a result, scanners are getting smaller and cheaper," he said.

Kodak's new image

Kodak's response was to produce its smallest and cheapest ($310 via online retailers) desktop scanning product and to enlist Catalyst Direct, Rochester, its longtime agency. "The one thing we had going for us was that Kodak is a strong, trusted brand," said Frank Magnera, account director at Catalyst. "But when you say `imaging,' you might not think of Kodakóespecially in the small-business market that the ScanMate was intended for."

Planning began in October 2007 with focus groups in Cleveland, Denver and Kansas City, Mo., considered to have a representative array of the smaller businesses the ScanMate was aimed at.

Surprisingly, technological sophistication and a laundry list of product features didn't appeal to these groups. Much more important to small businesses, the focus groups revealed, was a business machine with a small size to reduce desktop clutter, as well as speed and ease of use.

These qualities became the key messages of the introductory campaign.

Trade show introduction

For the scanner's launch, Kodak and Catalyst targeted the March 2008 On Demand expo in Boston produced by the Association for Information and Image Management. Key lists of small-business owners and existing Kodak business customers were assembled and broken down into finance/accounting, legal, medical, real estate and general small-business vertical categories.

E-mail notices went out two weeks prior to the show, urging recipients to "be the first to know!" about a new Kodak scanner that would afford them "less paper chaos."

Attendees also were lured to personalized URLs (PURLs) with the chance to win a Kodak digital camera. It was the initial offer of the campaign.

"We had a 5.2% response rate on this first outreach, and we were expecting from 1.5% to 3%," Magnera said. Why? Magnera said he believes the offer of the digital camera was a key driver.

"It sounds kind of silly, but the opportunity to win the digital camera seemed to be really compelling to them," he said. "Small-business customers react more like consumers."

The trade show launch was followed by the mailing of an oversize direct-mail postcard about 10-by-17 inches. On the address side of the card was an image of a fanciful inbox on a desk, piled to the ceiling with a chaotic mountain of paperwork. Variable-data printing assured personal salutations, with the message again directing recipients to their individual PURLs for more information.

"We wanted something that would stand out," Magnera said of the giant piece. "This couldn't be missed."

Aiding this phase of the campaign were, again, offers. A $50 Visa gift card was tested against a $50 purchase-price rebate, with the business rebate winning out slightly, 54% to 46%.

Orders and fulfillment posed something of a problem, because Kodak's normal lineup of channel partners couldn't make much profit selling the inexpensive ScanMate. An alternative was to sell the product through an array of direct market resellers such as CDW, Dell, Insight, and PCMall.

To nail down conversion rates during the launch phase, Kodak gave a 90-day exclusive to CDW.

Reminders and multitouches

As the campaign unfolded, additional e-mails went out to reinforce the message and remind recipients to visit their PURLs. A total of four touches were part of the initial phase of the campaign and involved direct mail, sell sheets, PURLs and the trade show.

The results of the campaign were highly satisfying to Kodak.

"We are about 20% above our internal planning metrics," Hughes said of ScanMate sales so far. "And we've gone from zero market share to gaining a few points. It's been a wild success, and we're very pleased."

Kodak's DMR channel is happy also. Hughes said CDW reported that the ScanMate introduction was the most successful of any product introduction it had been involved in.

There were also other interesting pieces of intelligence gleaned from the campaign.

Since the array of lists contained names with postal addresses only, other names with e-mail addresses only and still others with both, the marketing team could pinpoint the effectiveness of each separately and in combination.

Recipients of only the direct-mail piece responded at the rate of 0.9%; e-mail-only recipients responded at the rate of 1.4%

From those receiving direct mail along with e-mail teasers and reminders, however, the campaign enjoyed a 3.2% response rate.

"That shows the power of combining touches," Magnera said.

The companies did not reveal the cost of the campaign, but Magnera said it enjoyed sales that were seven times the cost of the campaign.

"We were hoping for five or six times return," he said.

In this article: