PlumChoice boosts brand with colorful events

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PlumChoice, a provider of remote tech support, sells its services through partnerships with three types of companies: retailers, original equipment manufacturers, and Internet service providers and telcos. The 8-year-old , Billerica, Mass.-based company, which has about 500 employees, wanted to brand itself as a fun, energetic innovator, but had to do so with a limited budget, said Executive Director of Marketing Michael Phelan.

“There are a lot of warranty providers out there, and they all look exactly the same to these retailers and partners,” he said.

PlumChoice decided on a focused event marketing strategy designed to differentiate the company from its competitors. It chose one key industry event for each segment. For the ISP and telco segment, it participated in November at the CTAM Summit in Boston, an event organized by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing. To connect with retailers, it sponsored an event at RetailVision Spring, a late April show in Boca Raton, Fla., organized by United Business Media. To reach OEMs, the company had a presence in late June at Connections, a show organized by Parks Associates in Santa Clara, Calif.

At the events, PlumChoice reached out to prospects in a fun, low-key way, Phelan said. For instance, at Connections, the company sponsored an evening cocktail reception and decorated the party in its signature color, purple. The party featured a balloon drop, ice sculpture and flying stuffed animals called screaming monkeys. It served “Plumtinis”—vodka and grape juice—and gave away syringes of “technology booster shots,” as well as pill bottles containing M&Ms with labels telling people to call PlumChoice in the morning.

At RetailVision, PlumChoice sponsored a similar party aboard an evening cruise with Jimmy Buffett-style entertainment. The event allowed the company to talk with prospects who had declined one-on-one meetings with PlumChoice during the main show.

“It's experiential marketing—it's about bringing the brand to life and providing a fun, engaging environment where customers can have a conversation with you,” Phelan said. “Even if they don't end up buying, they enjoy what we do. We end up immersing the event in our brand.”

PlumChoice's presence at the events helped generate a broader awareness of the company and has provided a strong return in sales, Phelan said, noting the company spent less than $125,000 on the three events and generated more than $1 million in business. “The sales reps are so delighted with this because they feel like they're coming to the table with a brand and a company that's putting them in a strong position to have successful conversations with customers,” he said.

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