Paul Holmes 26 Mar 2003 // 12:00AM GMT
Tridium Inc., a start-up technology company, develops and markets automation software that allows businesses to access and control building systems (e.g. electrical, heating and A/C systems) from the Internet. The company hired Carter Ryley Thomas (CRT) in the fall of 2000 to develop and implement an integrated communications and marketing campaign that would increase awareness and sales for its recently developed software product suite known as Vykon-.
The results of our efforts are best summed up by a direct quote from the client: “In a few short quarters, Tridium has gone from an unknown entity in the building automation market to a company that everyone has on their radar screen as the most innovative and up and coming company in the industry. We are the targets of competitor’s aim and on the very short list of solutions for end-user customers. Our total marketing package, public relations, advertising, trade shows and highly effective promotional materials have paid off tremendously.”
CRT’s challenge was to establish this relatively unknown company as a major player in the automation software industry and to build awareness for Vykon in targeted markets. In the wake of the dot.com bust of 2000, CRT would have no easy task to break through communication channels, which were now skeptical of unknown technology companies. Many hi-tech companies made promises about capabilities they couldn’t deliver. It was up to CRT to convince Tridium’s targeted audiences that the company’s technology did what the company said it could do.
Following careful review of Tridium’s business plan, CRT met with key company executives and sales people to determine its target audiences. CRT found that Tridium’s unique business model includes distribution channels that reach far beyond what an internal direct sales force can achieve alone. The company sells and markets its products through multiple distribution channels: OEMs and VARs (value-added resellers), independent systems integrators (SIs) and corporate distribution partners. As a result, CRT established the following primary targets:
· Systems integrators and value-added resellers
· Building control manufacturers (OEMs)
· Utilities and energy service companies
· Facility and energy managers
Following our analysis of Tridium’s key audiences, CRT reviewed the product to determine its capabilities. From there, we developed key sales messages for Tridium’s sales team, VARs, as well as media that we planned to pitch for publicity. Our message strategies included a review of competitors to help differentiate Tridium’s messaging and positioning. For instance, we uncovered that many software players in the market were claiming that their products were “interoperable,” when in fact they were restricted to certain protocol parameters. Thus, we determined that one of Tridium’s main messages for Vykon was that it could interoperate with all systems regardless of protocol.
CRT knew that media relations and trade show communications would play a vital role because potential customers in those markets use them extensively as a source for new product information. As such, we researched the most prominent magazines and trade shows in the building and energy markets as well as vertical markets, such as education, to determine the most effective venues to showcase its products.
For three to four weeks, CRT and Tridium worked closely together to develop a comprehensive business-to-business marketing campaign. The result was an integrated public relations and marketing campaign that would be accomplished with case studies, product demonstrations and customer testimonials, not hype and vaporware. (A copy of the plan is enclosed.)
· Create awareness of Tridium as a premier Internet-enabled software company in the building controls and energy services industries.
· Initiate brand awareness and increase sales for Tridium’s Vykon product line.
· Secure greater mind share for Tridium’s technology among the leading building control and energy services companies.
· Position Tridium as a leading automation software company that increases businesses’ productivity.
· Launch Vykon to targeted audiences as a leading enterprise application for building automation and energy management solutions.
· Focus on targeted B2B efforts in select vertical markets (at this time, primarily education) to maximize penetration/sales of Vykon Building and Vykon Energy.
CRT executed the following tactics:
· Created corporate and product messages for sales communications and media relations for each of its targeted audiences. CRT also media trained Tridium executives on the key messages.
· Developed Vykon and its suite of products logos. (Note: CRT developed Tridium’s logo and tagline in 1999)
· Wrote and developed sales materials that included Vykon brochures and five case studies for Tridium’s sales channels and in-house direct sales teams. CRT also helped Tridium produce the Vykon Energy brochure, Vykon Energy Profiler data sheet and five other sales data sheets.
· Developed media relations materials:
· Targeted media lists (trades and vertical markets) and editorial calendars
· Media kit
· Bylined articles, case studies, white papers and press releases
· Created a $400,000 educational advertising campaign.
· Trade Shows: Developed product booth signage to attract the attention of show attendees (potential customers and media)
· Identified trade shows for Tridium to exhibit at targeted sales markets
· Coordinated interviews and product demonstrations with reporters at Tridium’s booth so they could see the products in action first hand
Evaluation of Success
· Tridium has signed 41 additional System Integrators (nearly a 40 percent increase) from around the world to sell its products.
· Sales increased 300 percent in the past 12 months, particularly in the building automation market where communications efforts have been greatest. Also, Tridium has shipped more than 1,600 Vykon systems worldwide.
· Additional strategic partnerships have been formed with building and utility powerhouses, such as Emerson Electric, Schneider Electric, Invensys, ABB and Duke Solutions. Furthermore, Tridium has more than 15 other Fortune 500 level customers in various stages of negotiations, with several that it hopes to close in the next few months.
· Media Relations: Approximately 100 quality media hits in North American and Europe. Media hits include Tridium executives interviewed as experts in building automation as well as placement of case studies and by-lined articles. The biggest highlights in the top two trade magazines in the energy and buildings sector respectively were:
· Bylined article in Hart’s Energy Markets (October, 2001) that resulted in approximately 100 leads.
· Named one of the top product picks of value by Buildings magazine. Editors comment: “Tridium brings building operating systems online with a product that defines the market.”
· Premier article in Engineered Systems, a top trade magazine that reaches thousands of system integrators and engineers.
· Trade Shows – Client estimates that average traffic at its booth was 2,100 for large shows (500+ exhibitors) and 80 for smaller shows (250 or less exhibitors).
· Awards: Tridium received the 2001 Greater Richmond (Virginia) Technology Council’s Emerging Company Award and was a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year.