Regular readers of this blog know that one of the things that I discuss regularly is the big issue we all struggle with: How to convince the bosses, management, boards, sales teams, and other people within our organizations that we should be focused on new marketing.
I've offered suggestions in blog posts such as Answering the ultimate question: "How do I convince my boss of the ROI of new marketing?" and another post The one question to ask new marketing & PR detractors.
However, many people have written me and asked for case examples that show how others have convinced bosses to move forward and then successfully implemented a social media strategy. So here is a terrific example. I hope to have more in the coming months.
Vitor Souza is Global Communications Manager at BitDefender, creator of internationally certified security software, used by tens of millions of people and sold in more than 100 countries. A true global company, Souza works from offices in Mountain View, CA and Bucharest, Romania. This is a particularly interesting example because the market that BitDefender serves is very competitive and product differentiation is not easy to do.
Souza read my book The New Rules of Marketing & PR and the ideas resonated with him so he purchased ten copies for others on his team as well as the BitDefender CEO. Souza then got approval to bring his team to the U.S. to attend my New Rules of Marketing full-day seminar.
"After our seminar my team and I highlighted all the main points and presented to the executive team," Souza says. "We had a Q&A section and with a bit of discussion it was realized that we knew more about what is going on today with the new rules." Souza and his team also put together a series of stories from mainstream media (publications that his management deemed credible) to share. Together with this information, the team presented an action plan to the management team that required very little budget.
What I like about this approach to convincing management is that it was presented in steps over several months and the approach was very well thought out. In particular, an action plan was presented. Instead of saying "we should start a blog" there was a clear plan for how to do it.
"They gave us a 3-month trial on the program," Souza says. "And I made sure we over delivered the results."
Introducing Malware City
A cornerstone of the new marketing approach was the development of a new site called Malware City, launched in mid-2008, focused on key influencers within the IT security community. The new site was not a redesign of the existing company site, but instead was an informational supplement to the BitDefender main site that is used to sell BitDefender products.
"We launched Malware City for people that are interested in the latest information on internet threats," Souza says. "It has a blog from our lab analysts, educational materials for IT guys, and many other interactive tools."
Understanding buyer personas
Souza and his team clearly understood that the best online initiatives are those that deliver specific information tailored to a particular buyer persona. The Malware City site was developed to appeal to three different buyer personas:
1) Information Technology security press (both mainstream press and social media)
2) BitDefender users
3) A group Souza describes as "internet security geeks" -- the most important buyer persona for Malware City.
The Malware City site appeals directly to the internet security geek buyer persona with language such as: "Our citizens are wise warriors fighting malware, willing to share their knowledge in order to breed an army ready to battle security threats. Want to join us? Demonstrate your skills and we will be glad to welcome you into our family."
"Malware City is the property of BitDefender," Souza says. "We didn't brag about it but didn't hide it either. We want it to be a site dedicated to all interested on their online security, and not only to BitDefender users."
An important aspect of Malware City are blogs such as The Spam Omelette. "The Malware City Blog is open to everyone willing to put a post there if relevant for its theme," Souza says.
I asked Souza: How is Malware City different from traditional forms of marketing (like advertising and direct mail)?
"Instead of pumping them with irrelevant messages and interrupt their activities, we offer helpful and relevant information that our visitors are interested in," he says. "And we ask nothing in return. We can see from the subscriber's comments or the emails that we received that they consider Malware City a helpful source of information. Other clear evidence is increasing number of visitors, from the fact that they are talking about the site on their blogs, or they are bookmarking it."
I love Malware City. It is a terrific example of what excellent information, created especially for buyer personas can do. Unlike product advertising hype, Malware City shows potential customers that BitDefender is a smart player in the market.
BitDefender video channel
What are the results?
Souza says that they have successfully achieved the one important result that they were focused on: Building an active community of users interested in malware and antimalware software.
"People subscribe to our RSS feeds, to our weekly newsletter, they use the tools available in the Fan Zone section to promote the site," Souza says. "We receive feed-back emails, links to our site, comments and a good number of new and returning visitors. We have been getting great results out of this site. Very often our subscribers speak with us, so we are also gathering great feedback."
What do the bosses say?
"Now everyone in the company is behind us. My online communications and social communications team has grown by three more employees and I plan on hiring two more at the beginning of 2009. We still have a lot to learn and improve but we are trying to do as many actions as possible, and get immediate feedback."
Nice job Vitor! I hope your story is helpful to others looking to implement these ideas in their organizations.