"I had only so much budget, and it was going only so far," said Tom Gruba, director of marketing at Motorola. "So we thought a custom publishing product would be an effective use of spend. It could bring in both existing customers and prospects by talking about the business application as opposed to just pushing product."
Launched in June 2003, "Connections" is a monthly online magazine with features, news on topics such as Federal Communications Commission rulings and new technologies, industry statistics and case studies of users of Motorola's broadband products. Canopy provides high-speed data/voice connectivity for private networks, Internet Service Providers and telecommunications carriers.
"Connections" is produced by Imagination Publishing, a Chicago-based custom publisher, and several freelancers contribute to the webzine. Motorola declined to say how much it pays Imagination to produce "Connections."
Gruba said that considering Motorola's market, it made more sense to introduce a custom product online rather than in print. Even so, Motorola's embrace of custom publishing hasn't caused the company to dial back on its traditional marketing spending, he said.
"Connections" is published in English and translated into Spanish, Portuguese and simplified Chinese. It is e-mailed to 25,000 executives in Canopy's target market, which consists of telecommunications carriers, ISPs and enterprise users in the corporate, municipal, health care and education markets.
The e-mail blast is also sent to resellers and distributors of broadband wireless access, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and other wireless networking products and services—a decision that has paid solid dividends. A "Connections" article about a Canadian technology provider-reseller, for example, resulted in more than 100 calls to Motorola requesting information, which generated more than $1 million in new business, including deals in France and Belgium.
Since its inception, "Connections" has attracted more than 163,000 total visitors and 109,000 unique visitors. Among all visitors, 35% are based outside the U.S.
Aside from helping to cultivate new customers, "Connections" has had three distinct benefits for Motorola's marketing communications efforts, Gruba said.
First, without spending much money, Motorola was able to create a single touch point for customers who are eager to learn more about the market.
Second, because "Connections" is distributed solely online, Gruba's team is able to modify and change content on the fly, and position senior-level Motorola executives as "thought leaders."
Third, and perhaps most important, the custom content is designed to appeal to all levels of the enterprise and not just the C-suite. "Anyone [reading `Connections'] is an influencer to a decision-maker," Gruba said.