Objectworld shifts from trade shows to webinars

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Objective: Objectworld needed to compete with industry heavyweights while lowering its overall cost-per-lead. Strategy: Shift its marketing focus from offline trade shows and print advertising to interactive advertising and marketing programs such as webinars and pay-per-click search marketing. Results: Cost-per-lead has dropped from $625 to $80, and the company has tightened its overall marketing message both online and off. Marketing is a tough game, but it's even tougher when your target doesn't like marketing in the first place. And it becomes even more of a challenge when your company's major competitors— Cisco Systems, IBM Corp. and Nortel Networks—have much deeper pockets than you do. This was the conundrum that Objectworld Communications, an Ottawa-based provider of unified communications and telephony products, faced earlier this year. “The industry is definitely in flux right now because more [traditional IT] vendors are coming out with their own offerings,” said Vincent Guihan, director of marketing at Objectworld. Until recently, Giuhan tried to stand out by doing lots of in-person marketing at trade shows and placing ads in select trade publications to target end users as well as the company's solution providers. Interactive marketing, he said, was kept to a minimum. But the strategy wasn't working because Objectworld's cost-per-lead topped $625. “We were doing it all wrong,” he said. “We weren't making the connections we wanted because people we target aren't going to trade shows right now. They can't afford it.” Customers aren't the only ones pulling back from trade shows. “In terms of generating value and being able to develop relationships with partners, trade shows are becoming tremendously expensive,” Giuhan said. Guihan needed an economical alternate to promoting his company, while creating direct, person-to-person connections. That's why, over the past months, he has turned to interactive advertising as a way to cut costs and increase relevancy—both online and off. Objectworld recently started holding webinars for its more than 200 partner resellers and their customers. The company works with its channel partners to generate an invitation list and then e-mails to a small group of prospects who can sign up online. The webinar is attended by Objectworld executives as well as the resellers. “We can walk through the product and turn cold leads that might need more nurturing into true leads,” Guihan said. Objectworld also started using Google's AdWords program to the betterment of its entire marketing program. “The beauty is that it's all measurable,” he said. “We can see what's working and what's not, which is completely different than what we were doing in print.” Moreover, the online initiative is helping the company's offline efforts, Guihan said. “We saw the highest click-throughs for the phrase "phone system,' so we repositioned our product offering to make the phone system link clearer,” he said. He also repositioned the company's overall marketing strategy and ran ads to reflect the new focus. These efforts have resulted in a dramatic cost-per-lead drop from $625 to $80. That, in turn, has freed up marketing dollars for other internal efforts, Guihan said. “Because we saved money in other programs, we were able to put more feet on the street,” he said. “We're able to have more meaningful relationships with our partners and customers.” M
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