Software startup XOsoft had two things going against it as it prepared to launch its latest data protection product, Enterprise Rewinder.
First, its media and analyst relations left something to be desired. XOsoft had not reached out to the press in many months and had not spoken to analysts in nearly a year. Second, the company faced rivals who had much larger shares of market and mind, including Veritas.
XOsoft hired Ruder Finn to raise its profile among CIOs and IT managers in just three months, preparing the market for Enterprise Rewinder.
"We wanted to raise the level of messaging that they were used to," says Jorge Alday, a VP
in RF's corporate technology group. "We wanted them to take a step back and look at what the broader business value was."
Getting the company to translate its tech-heavy message into a promise of business value was key to reaching both CIOs and IT managers, who must justify the value of their IT purchases to less tech-savvy executives. RF knew that both audiences were extremely sensitive to recovery time in the event of an emergency and to the cost of implementing a solution. The messaging also had to appeal to tech publications, as well as to the general business media.
RF conducted competitive research on rivals' media coverage and the tone of that coverage. That research helped the agency develop positioning that was unique to XOsoft and that helped differentiate the company from its competitors.
The company admits it had focused too much on the technology in its past messaging.
"It was the wrong approach for a growing company," says Gil Rapaport, EVP of marketing and strategy. "It was more important to convince [potential] customers that we have the right approach for their business."
RF knew that XOsoft lacked the initial brand recognition to attract media attention to its more business-friendly, less tech-centric messaging. So the agency identified events already on the media's radar to tie its pitches to, including the anniversary of the 2003 East Coast blackout, the Republican National Convention, airline disasters, and Microsoft server continuity.
RF found niches in such events to talk about the importance of protecting information and the role that XOsoft plays in helping companies protect their data better, says Alday.
RF also used corporate announcements, such as those for new execs, to introduce XOsoft to reporters and analysts who had not previously followed the company. The agency conducted briefings with analysts at influential firms, including Gartner and IDC, to build third-party credibility. And XOsoft also met with a range of media, from tech publications, including SQL Server and Database Trends & Applications, to major tech media, such as Network World and InformationWeek.
XOsoft appeared in 35 articles between July and September, including in magazines like InformationWeek and eWeek, which had not written about it previously and had no articles about disaster recovery all year.
The media coverage led to 38 leads after the October launch of Enterprise Rewinder. XOsoft signed on more than 280 customers last year and increased its customer base by 233%.
The company saw quarter- over-quarter growth throughout all of last year and finally became profitable in Q4 2004, something it didn't anticipate happening until Q4 of 2005.
RF will continue to build the company's brand and raise awareness of its new products through media and analyst outreach, with a focus on business-centric messages, says Alday.
PR team: XOsoft (Burlington, MA), Ruder Finn (New York)
Campaign: Enterprise Rewinder launch
Time frame: July to September 2004