Sirona Schick 33 builds market-leading pipeline

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Dental equipment manufacturer Sirona Dental Systems built its brand around high-tech imaging and modeling equipment. The company traditionally relied on an established reputation for innovation rather than marketing prowess when it introduced new products into a market that now includes about 120,000 U.S.-based dentists, said Jack Connelly, VP-marketing for Sirona's Schick product line.

"We have a well-defined market and a strong brand," Connelly said. "Sometimes you get complacent and just tell everyone that you have a new product."

But as Sirona prepared for the 2012 launch of its Schick 33 intraoral sensors, a diagnostic imaging product, it also faced a growing reality. The recession and a competitive marketplace had taken a toll.

"We were losing some of our market share," Connelly said. The soft launch tactics that had been the company's hallmark—public relations, email blasts and sales calls—would not be enough. Sirona enlisted Eric Mower+Associates, Syracuse, N.Y., and developed an integrated launch campaign that would drive leads to the Schick 33 pipeline. "We had to create awareness and excitement, and convert leads to opportunities," Connelly said.

The resulting campaign rolled out with the product in August 2012 and helped make Schick 33 a market leader in its category, Connelly said. Digital and print components called out the product features that set the Schick 33 sensors apart. A microsite featured customer stories and video segments, and a product simulator showcased high-resolution images and the software that allows dentists to enhance those images.

Four email blasts targeted prospects, and print and online ad placements reached out to the wider market.

The campaign also offered dentists a custom-printed, lead-free apron and pointed them to a landing page where they could learn more about the product and request an in-office demonstration.

Eric Mower used marketing automation software to track the performance of the campaign, refining lists and testing offers as the launch moved forward. When dentists requested an in-office demonstration, automated email alerts went to the respective regional, territory and branch sales managers. "We connected the dots between the marketing and the sales teams," Connelly said.

That coordination is particularly important because Sirona sells its products through an outside distribution channel. Results of the campaign, whose budget was not disclosed, exceeded expectations.

More than 50% of prospects used the simulation tool, said Nicole LeClair, senior account supervisor at Eric Mower. The campaign generated more than 5,000 requests for in-office demonstrations. More than 1,500 dental offices installed the product, and sales grew to double initial projections.

The success meant that the company had to go back to its supplier of the custom aprons to order more. "That gives you a sense of the success," Connelly said. "We've launched a lot of products. We thought we had this covered, but the interest that we generated exceeded expectations."

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