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MRM delivers engagement and utility to drive results

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MRM Worldwide, BtoB's 2008 Direct Agency of the Year, is driving success for its clients by creating engaging, useful direct and digital marketing programs to reach business decision-makers. MRM is the direct and relationship marketing agency of McCann Worldgroup. Last year, its global revenue increased by 15% as a result of new-business wins and organic growth. Its biggest win was being named direct agency of record for Verizon, which includes a substantial amount of b-to-b work, as well as direct agency of record for Nortel Networks, which is all b-to-b. In addition, the agency won new global clients including Adherex in Canada; Banque Postale and Vodaphone in France; the Department of International Development in the U.K.; and UMPay in China. The agency also picked up additional work from existing clients Dell, Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. For its clients, MRM created innovative direct and digital marketing programs designed to engage target audiences by delivering value as well as entertainment. “Because the business audience is spending so much time online at work, we need to think of ways to not just grab their attention with marketing and entertainment but to grab their attention with utility,” said Reuben Hendell, CEO of MRM Worldwide, New York. MRM used this approach when helping client Microsoft introduce its Vista operating system to midsize business audience (companies operating 50 to 500 PCs). “We knew there was a lot of confusion about what Vista had to offer small and medium-sized businesses, so we were able to create a customized version of Vista to allow small businesses to "trial' it before converting to a full license,” Hendell said. MRM created a lead-generation program called Vista Test Drive that allowed users to try out the software. Users could sign up for a “lite register” program to try out the features of Vista by providing an e-mail address only or they could complete full registration and get a more in-depth experience of the software. Registering for the trial software program triggered a lead-nurturing e-mail, which was sent to users offering them more information, such as case studies of Vista users. “For our clients, we've been increasingly trying to blur the line between developing marketing campaigns and programs and actually creating products for them,” Hendell said. “As a technology agency, we're able to get our hands on the software and actually do some customization and serve up trial software to potential clients.” He said the Vista Test Drive program exceeded goals set for lead generation and other key metrics. While providing utility is one strategy to reach business execs, providing entertainment is also effective, as demonstrated by MRM's Silicon Commander game created to launch Intel's vPro and Centrino technologies in Asia. “IT professionals respond very well to online gaming—it fits their demographic profile,” Hendell said. So MRM created a massively multiplayer online game called Silicon Commander in which users control fleets of robots (representing PCs), which face typical IT situations in sci-fi environments. The game was overwhelmingly successful; the average time spent playing the game was 7.4 hours per week, and research found that players were 70% more positively predisposed toward Intel technology than a nonplaying group. “Direct marketing has changed pretty dramatically,” Hendell said. “It's all about getting engagement. In a world of outbound direct marketing and inbound digital [such as Web sites and search], it is about creating usefulness and going beyond offers.” He also said the line between b-to-b marketing and consumer marketing is blurring. “The business audience is behaving more like the consumer audience—you might need to entertain somebody or you might need to provide utility,” Hendell said. “Business audiences are becoming more demanding of better work in order to get their attention and in order to convert them.” —K.M.
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