Brand Positioning:BlueArc puts focus on customers as it unveils new server

BlueArc, a storage-hardware company, has always had to live in the shadow of two larger competitors, EMC and Network Appliance.

BlueArc, a storage-hardware company, has always had to live in the shadow of two larger competitors, EMC and Network Appliance.

But late last year, the company believed its latest offering, a new network attached storage (NAS) server, would help it compete and cement its status as the number-three player in the NAS market.

Foreseeing an increasing explosion in data-storage needs, BlueArc developed the Titan SiliconServer. While many IT companies add whole new storage servers as they need them or upgrade the hardware to keep up with software improvements, BlueArc's technology lets users make incremental upgrades, expanding the lifespan of the hardware while keeping costs down. The new server also made strides in speed.

But while talking about the technology was important, Text 100 wanted to move BlueArc away from just talking about speeds and feeds.

"The core of the story was about a shift in the company's position as a purveyor of high-end storage technology," says Text 100 SVP Mark Hampton. "We really wanted to make sure they were positioned as a provider of high-performance systems that allow people to solve business issues."

Strategy

The Titan SiliconServer launch was the perfect opportunity to address broader issues, including BlueArc's business benefits, says Hampton, adding that BlueArc's story was presented in terms of business value, not just the technology, merging high-performance technology and business-value messages.

"It would have been easy to say, 'BlueArc does it again,'" says Hampton. "But this was about positioning the company and developing a broader story that is tied to customers' business successes."

Tactics

BlueArc put customers before the press and analysts who could share their success stories, says Louis Gray, BlueArc's corporate communications manager.

The first stage was to meet with analysts, whom Hampton says are often more influential than the media when it comes to companies making IT buying decisions. And the media also often looks to the analyst community for insight, adds Gray.

Text 100 and BlueArc dug deep into what influences people when buying storage systems, from the lifespan of such systems to speed, and focused on how BlueArc's latest offering raised the bar. Hampton emphasizes that this was provided in the larger context of how all this can help customers' bottom lines and help them achieve business goals.

"It would have been easy to talk about speeds and feeds," says Hampton. "But talking about BlueArc as a business helped shift attention to their place in this market and how they are making a difference for their customers and moving this sector forward."

Gray says it was vital to reach two key audiences - IT managers, who make buying recommendations and decisions, and those in the executive suite, who sign off on the IT expenditures.

Results

The campaign garnered heavy media coverage from a variety of business, trade, and tech publications, including InfoWorld, EE Times, The Wall Street Journal, eWeek, and Forbes.

That heavy media coverage apparently reached the right audiences, as BlueArc credits PR for a 120% increase in inbound sales calls from April to July, a 189% jump in website visits, and a 142% rise in its sales pipeline.

"We track everything," says Gray. "We track every lead back to its origin. So I can go back to senior management and say, 'Text 100 has increased phone calls; they've increased opportunities in our sales pipeline.' So when senior management is looking at $500 million worth of opportunities, that expands the opportunities for more PR.

"Text 100 really led this on the campaign," adds Gray. "They made the difference. They have the knowledge of the storage market. They took us above and beyond what we could have done ourselves."

Future

BlueArc and Text 100 continue to work on analyst and media outreach, explaining the benefits to BlueArc's customers, including how all of NBC's graphics during the Olympics relied on BlueArc's storage technology.

PR team: BlueArc (San Jose, CA) and Text 100 (San Francisco)

Campaign: Titan SiliconServer launch

Time frame: Mid-November 2003 to mid-February 2004

Budget: $60,000

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