Marketing to fanatics

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To say Apple Macintosh fans are loyal to their platform is an understatement. The group has very strong opinions about various platforms and anything that runs on them. The same might be said for AutoCAD users. The professionals who use Autodesk Inc.’s design program have specific likes and dislikes. Anyone marketing to the two groups would have to be extremely careful with a campaign, something that LeeAnn Manon, product marketing manager AutoCAD for Mac, said was on her team’s mind when they prepared to relaunch AutoCAD for the Mac after more than 20 years.

“One of the things the product team focused on … was the balance between the AutoCAD brand being out there for decades, and that it has huge user base, and understanding of the brand and [its] hugely loyal following. [We also focused on] how the Mac user feels about being a Mac user,” she said. “We needed to stay true to both audiences.”

Since the campaign was going to be based on feelings, Autodesk focused squarely on social media strategies and public relations—reaching out to the traditional media and bloggers as well. “The Mac audience is very rumors-based, so we had to go out there with a big bang and make sure there were no preannouncements or information that was incorrect. We also worked closely with Apple to gain their support.”

The campaign debuted Aug. 31 with a large media event in San Francisco, which was videotaped and loaded onto the Autodesk website. The company also used Twitter extensively. “As the media published stories about the launch, we publicized it through our AutoCAD and Autodesk Twitter handles,” said Noah Cole, senior manager-corporate communications, marketing at Autodesk. There were more than 700 unique stories about the introduction worldwide. “Then we started engaging with anyone who was tweeting about the announcement. We saw thousands and thousands of unique tweets—far above what Autodesk normally sees.”

Engagement included tweeting with anyone who had a question and directing those people back to the Autodesk website so they could see screenshots and read product literature. The marketing team was also quick to clear up any misconceptions or rumors using Twitter. “We used CoTweet, watched the stream and responded when appropriate,” Manon said. “We knew we couldn’t respond to everything, but we responded if it was something negative or we needed to change a perception.”

By engaging directly and tweeting back and forth with Twitter users, Autodesk got “four to five times” the amount of coverage it had ever received for a product launch, Cole said.

Autodesk’s strategy also included paid search, using banner ads and paid search placement. “We were prepared for the volume of activity by gaining clearance [from Apple] to use the ‘Mac’ term, securing inventory with our partners and expanding our reach into our ongoing [marketing efforts] to help leverage the strength of Autodesk’s branded terms,” Cole said. “For online display, we shifted from buying through impression-based models to buying through cost-per-click models. This increased cost-per-response efficiencies by 80%. The resp

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