When DataSynapse sought to drive sales of GridServer, grid-computing software that virtualizes application workload and distributes these service requests over a pool of shared system resources, it knew it had to start speaking a language its audience cou
"It's always difficult to effectively communicate a highly technical message," says Kelly Vizzini, CMO for DataSynapse. "Striking the right balance between business value and product functionality is hard."
To tackle this challenge, DataSynapse teamed with Articulate Communications, a b-to-b technology PR firm with experience in middleware software, the type DataSynapse develops and sells.
When it comes to software like DataSynapse's, which is both highly technical and relatively obscure, hoping the product will sell itself is out of the question.
While most of DataSynapse's potential customers were in the business world, those aware of the potential of grid computing technology were situated on the opposite end of the spectrum, in academia.
"We had to educate [DataSynapse] on how to move beyond academia to real-world business organizations," says April Harned, VP of Articulate. "The mainstream IT press had to be educated that grid computing wasn't only being used by NASA to tell if there's intelligence on Mars. It's being used by banks, utility companies, and any other organizations that have large amounts of data transactions they want to speed up."
Articulate soon realized that it was ultimately dealing with two products: It had to sell grid computing before it could sell GridServer.
Both the general and specific products required the same remedy: semantic surgery.
Moving forward from this, Articulate and DataSynapse were able to formulate three goals from their marketing strategy: increase visibility and credibility, stimulate lead generation, and create sales support collateral (case studies, white papers, brochures, and article clips) for future business.
After conducting a thorough message review, Articulate simplified the corporate pitch by generating a "core messaging library" to communicate the values of the product in a language that could be easily understood by a business audience. The messaging library served as a cheat sheet for the company's sales and executive forces, as well as a makeshift press kit.
Obstacles were not lacking. In a marketplace with many vendors, DataSynapse felt pressure to get its marketing rhetoric in sync with that of competitors. However, Articulate was effective in focusing primarily on features unique to DataSynapse.
For Articulate, the largest challenge was convincing the IT press that grid computing was a present-day technology, not one awaiting its heyday five to 10 years down the line, as the IT community was predicting.
Articulate used DataSynapse's high-profile clients to tell their success stories in order to attract leads. Wachovia's success with GridServer, for example, was used as a proof point and served as collateral for future sales opportunities.
Within 12 months, DataSynapse more than doubled its client roster from a dozen at the end of 2003 to more than 30 at the end of 2004. Its revenues grew, and traffic to its website rose from 157 unique visitors per day in January 2004 to an average of 345 for that same period in 2005.
Media coverage of DataSynapse more than tripled, reaching more than 50 million impressions. Furthermore, the company was featured in technology trade magazines with large readerships, such as Computerworld and CIO.
DataSynapse is extending its relationship with Articulate Communications by increasing its PR budget by 15% and increasing the size of its PR team. Both are preparing for a new product launch with a new series of product-specific messaging.
PR team: DataSynapse and Articulate Communications (both New York)
Time frame: January 2004 to January 2005