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Speakeasy makes statement, puts its customers on camera

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Speakeasy doesn't do much traditional advertising. The Seattle-based company, which sells managed services, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) telephony and other broadband offerings, relies on its Web site, PR and simple e-mail newsletters. But Speakeasy needed a way to differentiate itself without spending too much money. About a year ago, Speakeasy decided it could accomplish this goal by putting a face on its marketing—many faces, actually. That's when it started creating video case studies. “We've always had a history around interviewing customers,” said Betsy Borrow, director of marketing communications. “The awareness side of the business is pretty new, and it's a pretty complicated product line in terms of the features that are available. While case studies are definitely useful, we wanted to make them come alive a little more. We thought, "Let's try video and let the customers explain what their experiences are and what success they have achieved.' ” Speakeasy selected its most complicated product, then looked at its customer base, choosing those customers who solved specific business problems. The videos, which were completely unscripted, were shot on location. Customers were asked to tell their stories, which Speakeasy augmented with video of customers' offices. The finished videos, categorized by business problems such as “Supporting the mobile workforce” or “Cost-saving phone system,” were uploaded to a new section of the company's Web site dubbed the Speakeasy Advantage. The yearlong program cost less than $200,000, which included travel costs to each customer location and production expenses, Barrow said. While the videos received a positive reception from Speakeasy prospects as well as the company's internal sales and support teams, their reach was extended in press releases that contained links to the videos as well as links to the text-based case study and a background on each customer. “What we have found is that when we issue a video press release, we pick up a much broader range of publications than we usually get,” Borrow said. “They are publications or writers who are still in our sweet spot, but they are publications that would normally be much harder to get.” Since implementing the video press release program, Speakeasy has received coverage in a variety of publications including BusinessWeek, InfoWorld, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal as well as Web sites MSN Money and Yahoo Finance. “In the past, [our pickups] would mostly be VoIP publications or trade publications like eWeek or CRN,” Borrow said. “I think we're getting more pickup because it's telling the story from a completely different point of view, from a small-business customer point of view.” That orientation, combined with the richness of the case studies, has worked from both a marketing and expense perspective, Barrow said. “We're spending the same amount of money on our releases, but we're getting much more pickup,” she said. M
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