NEC Unified Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Corp. of America, sells software, applications and services related to unified communications, wireless, and voice and data. The Irving, Texas-based company's customers—Fortune 1,000 companies as well as small and midsize businesses—buy its products from an extensive dealer network. Like most technology providers, the company regularly develops new products and services.
In past years, NEC Unified Solutions put on a product road show to help its dealers learn how to market and sell each new product or upgrade. That required the marketing team to visit as many as 15 cities across North America, which was expensive and time-consuming. Early this spring, the company set out to change its training method, relying on a scaled-back version of the road show and a series of webcasts to support its new UNIVERGE 360 product line.
NEC purchased webcasting software from technology provider IVT Inc., and designed a series of 45-minute, interactive webcasts that were placed behind a password-protected portal. The webcasts, which feature product managers doing presentations similar to ones they do on the road show, include point-by-point information about each new product. The videos also contain speeches, specifications and selling points, letting dealers who can't make it to a road show get an experience like that offered to attendees.
At the end of each webcast, NEC offers viewers the opportunity to download PDFs and gives them links to other demonstrations and video presentations. Dealers learn about the new presentations via e-mail. A small, select group of presentations is also placed on the public-facing site and used as links within search and banner ad marketing.
“The viewer can go in and get a feel for each product,” said Bryan Williams, manager of interactive marketing, NEC Unified Solutions.
As a result of the webcasts, NEC has reduced the number of cities it will visit this year to eight, saving about $250,000 to $300,000 on transportation costs. But the real benefit is its ability to give its dealers instant, on-going access to product information that's always up-to-date (the IVT software allows NEC to go back into a webcast and edit it without starting from scratch). NEC plans on rolling out the presentations internationally as well.
“People in the field realize how tough it is to get to some of these destinations. For those dealers, this is a huge cost savings,” he said. “It's also the easiest way for them to find what they need.”
Another benefit is that Williams can make sure dealers are getting the required amount of education. He can determine how much time each dealer spent with each presentation, and whether or not they completed each section within the webcast.
Williams said he can see how popular the webcasts are whenever he takes one down to update specifications or information.
“We get a couple dozen e-mails almost immediately asking where it went,” he said. “We have to tell them we took it down to make changes and that it will be up again soon.” M