Xamlon is a relatively new software-development company.
In 2004, it created a developer tool that utilizes extensible application markup language (XAML). The only problem was that Microsoft had already announced plans to release a product using XAML in 2006. To go head to head with Microsoft wasn't an option, so Xamlon had to figure out a way to get its name out there before Microsoft dominated the market.
"How can a small company make enough noise to have everyone stop staring at Microsoft and look our way?" asks Paul Colton, CEO of Xamlon. "It was our biggest challenge."
To solve it, Xamlon worked with Townsend to develop a campaign that would help introduce Xamlon Pro 1.0, the XAML engine and toolset, more than a year ahead of Microsoft.
"It was an unrecognizable company," says Liya Sharif, client services director at Townsend. Deciding how to position it in relation to Microsoft was, therefore, a big priority. Townsend ultimately decided on a complementary strategy.
"Our proposal to the client was that we talk about the fact that we do not compete with Microsoft," Sharif says. "We bring something that developers will need ... two years earlier, allowing them to build and learn and understand the technology." Townsend also decided to make Colton an integral part of the campaign because he had created a Java servlet engine a few years ago that had garnered interest in the industry. "We wanted to position him as an expert and credible source in the industry," Sharif says.
Getting reporters' interest was the major goal, she added, because coverage in the key business and tech trades would provide the best results on a limited budget. Townsend and Xamlon also decided that one-on-one meetings with journalists were the best way to introduce the new product. "We felt it would be the most effective," Sharif says.
Townsend contacted journalists at tech and business media outlets. Once interest was established, the team set up appointments on both the East and West Coast over a two-week period. Colton was the main feature on the press tour, and, as such, he answered questions about Xamlon and its product and demonstrated the Pro 1.0 for journalists.
Townsend used two media pitches: The pitch for tech editors focused on Xamlon's product as a cutting-edge technology for developers. When targeting business editors, the pitch built upon Colton's experience and success in the industry. Because Xamlon's product is incredibly technical and complex, the team had to make sure to bring it down to a common level while pitching. "I think we accomplished that," Sharif says.
Xamlon was featured in such media outlets as Microsoft Watch, CNET, eWeek, and Visual Studio magazine. In fact, the company's product was featured in all of the outlets that it met with on the press tour.
"We were very happy," Colton says. Within six weeks of the launch, Xamlon reported nearly 2,000 downloads of the product from its website. "That was our measurement," Sharif says. "The downloads just spoke for the campaign."
Although the campaign was only two weeks long, Colton says, there is still interest from journalists for follow-up interviews. New stories on Xamlon Pro 1.0 continue to pop up on the internet, he says.
Xamlon is working with Townsend again to help launch another product within the coming months. He says that he anticipates using the same face-to-face strategy for meeting with reporters to help introduce the new product. "It went really well for the first one," he says. "We're excited to just keep going."
PR team: Xamlon and Townsend (both San Diego)
Campaign: Xamlon Launch
Time frame: September 7 to October 4, 2004