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How positioning, strong content helped Maxwell Systems launch new product

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Construction software provider Maxwell Systems reined in spending on sales and marketing when customers began to lose their footing during the recession. But the company was not so conservative with R&D. It used that downtime to develop ProContractorMX, a product that helps clients estimate costs, manage projects and track spending. In January, the company introduced the new product with an integrated marketing campaign and a complete rebranding initiative. “We invested $25 million over the course of the recession,” said Jere Richardson, VP-sales and marketing at Maxwell Systems. “Most of our competitors were not investing. As we began to see the market get better, we thought it was the right time to get aggressive with our marketing.” The company tapped the New York office of agency Stein IAS to help reinvigorate its marketing efforts and position the ProContractorMX software. Quantitative and qualitative market research revealed a differentiator, Richardson said. The company polled the owners and project managers who form the core of its buyer base. In a vertical that has traditionally been dominated by single-function software, an integrated system—one that addresses estimation, project management and cost controls—offers an increased level of transparency, he said. “You have a hyper-competitive market, and the operating margins have gotten so thin that [construction companies] really need that visibility,” Richardson said. Based on the research, Maxwell Systems opted to market the software as an all-in-one system. “This was a space we had to carve out,” he said. “We went bigger, and bolder and much broader than we have in the past.” Stein IAS developed an integrated “Empowering Construction” campaign that incorporated a new logo, graphic treatment and website. Across print, face-to-face and digital channels, the all-in-one message stood front and center. The campaign emphasized content: video segments, online demonstrations, best practices and other vehicles that would establish Maxwell Systems as a thought leader. “This technology should have a transformative impact on a business,” said Tom Stein, president-Americas at Stein IAS. “Our positioning was about managing the complexities of an evolving industry. You need all-in-one technology, and a partner and problem-solver. We articulated it as a promise to the industry.” The campaign succeeded across all channels, Stein said, but digital proved to be the workhorse. Maxwell Systems leveraged social media, display ads, search and email marketing tactics to drive traffic to its website. Digital ads generated click-through rates that were more than double industry benchmarks, and Web traffic rose 25% after the launch. The campaign surpassed in-house projections as well. It drew twice as many leads as originally estimated, Stein said, and the cost-per-inquiry rang in at just one-third the projected cost. Moreover, in a market that is accustomed to discounts, the positioning has helped Maxwell hold more closely to a predetermined selling price, Richardson said. “We've been more firm on discounts. We don't talk about just one component. It's a different value proposition.” A second phase of the campaign will run through the end of the year. Maxwell will use Big Data insights to identify and pursue the install bases of its competitors.
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