Close-up with Paul Shiman, VP-marketing, Stratix Corp.

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Paul Shiman is VP-marketing with mobility solutions company Stratix Corp., which provides rugged handheld devices and mobile applications for a variety of industrial and retail customers. Over the past few years, Stratix has undertaken a strategic marketing shift, building from its foundation in mobile hardware and services to the recent addition of a software capability. In the process, the company added a social media layer on top of traditional referrals and events as a way to prime the sales pipeline.

CMO Close-up: Tell us a little about what Stratix offers.

Shiman: We're an end-to-end-mobility solutions provider—Motorola EMb's largest business partner in their enterprise mobile market. Think of the mobile handheld devices used by Coca-Cola truck drivers during their delivery rounds to log in inventory and ordering information or the devices used at the airport to scan baggage plane-side. That's Stratix. In the past we've positioned the company as the go-to for executing very large or complex mobile deployments, but over the last two years we've invested heavily in developing our software applications to become a complete end-to-end mobility provider.

CMO Close-up: How has your marketing changed as a result?

Shiman: Previously 60% of our business came from partner referrals, including Motorola. Now, the rugged mobile market has become commoditized, as the technology has become less expensive and the competition increased. We knew customers were overwhelmed by a flood of new technology choices and challenges in managing an increasingly complex mobile environment. We also knew that without a complete solution, customers won't buy. By adding software applications to our offering, we've underscored a new position as the market leader focused on meeting our customers' needs. Our rebranding reflects this new position: “Delivering mobility. Driving results.”

CMO Close-up: Can you give us an example of “mobility driving results”?

Shiman: Delta Global Services (DGS), a division of Delta Air Lines, is a company that cleans and restocks airplanes between flights. Previously DGS was doing everything by paper and two-way radios. Many of the workers didn't understand English well, so instructions over walkie-talkies often were misunderstood. That's a huge disadvantage when you only have one-and-a-half hours to turn a plane around, and the company gets paid on its turnaround rate. Now, with the Stratix Motorola voice and data handheld solution, the software provides clear instructions, with the ability for supervisors to issue live instructions on the device's screen as needed.

CMO Close-up: How do you get the word out?

Shiman: We want to ensure that key analysts in the mobile space, such as Gartner, Aberdeen Group and VDC Research, know who we are. So we've begun utilizing interactive tools—including our Web site, blogs, paid and organic search, videos, podcasts, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube—to drive visibility to these analysts and to our prospects at large. We recently received a call from Gartner, inviting Stratix to a mobile symposium they're holding in October. They researched “mobile solution providers” on the Web and found us. And we still rely on our partner vendors for referrals. For example, Motorola recently brought together 800 of their employees at a sales event for three days in Orlando, Fla. We hosted a 20-by-20-foot booth and touched more than 195 of those people with face-to-face software demos and multimedia resources educating them on our new software products.

CMO Close-up: Tell us a little more about your social outreach?

Shiman: LinkedIn is by far our best resource, our No. 1 driver to the Web site. Everybody on our sales team has a LinkedIn page, and they all have our Web site listed. And just this winter we began using Twitter, and I can link several connections back to our Web site as a direct result. We've gained followers at a steady pace of two or three new ones per day, every day. So far I can't say someone from this channel has said they're likely to buy, but it's a great way to influence people in a targeted market.

CMO Close-up: What other channels have you used?

Shiman: We've used our blog, direct mail, e-mail and lead-nurturing campaigns to prospects, with industry-specific content sent over a period of time. Based on industry research, our view is that all prospects are interested in learning how to successfully manage and deploy a mobility solution. So we provide case studies with interactive video interviews and podcasts. Our business is a very complex sale, valued in the multimillions. It usually takes 12 to 18 months to close a deal. Our biggest challenge is that there are only three of us in marketing. We have to work hard to move the needle for sales.

CMO Close-up: What kind of ROI have you experienced?

Shiman: Since our new Web site was launched two years ago, and with all the social marketing over the last six months, we can definitely point to some deals. Plus, we've seen a 60% increase in traffic and a 30% increase in time spent on our Web pages, with significant boosts in the number of marketing assets downloaded.

CMO Close-up: How is the year unfolding for you so far?

Shiman: We're seeing a recovery, with more potential buyers requesting more information and meetings. The goal of marketing is to make sure Stratix is seen as a thought leader and is contacted before our competition. Everything you do must be clear, consistent and compelling. That's the first and most important step toward winning the business.

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