Wi-Ex strengthens its connection

In-building signal loss is a pervasive problem affecting cell phone usage. To counteract this problem, Wi-Ex created zBoost, a device that improves signal reception in homes and small businesses.

In-building signal loss is a pervasive problem affecting cell phone usage. To counteract this problem, Wi-Ex created zBoost, a device that improves signal reception in homes and small businesses.

Its PR firm, 705 Communications, decided to remind consumers of the problem and trust that the solution the product offered would be enough to boost publicity. As a jumping off point, it commissioned a survey that showed 72% of cell phone users experienced problems with indoor cell phone reception.

Strategy
Although similar products exist for larger-scale purposes, the zBoost was the first meant for consumer use, and 705 wanted to market it as such, without scaring away the technology-phobic crowd, says Deanna Anderson, MD of 705.

By doing research and including the survey results in all of its pitches, it could get the media talking (and people thinking) about what a problem signal loss is, while at the same time offering an easy solution. Coupled with news of the industry awards the product had received, these statistics would help build credibility for the zBoost and distinguish it from the other non-consumer based products.

Tactics
The marketing of such a modern product required a similarly modern approach. Naturally, target consumers for the zBoost were Internet-savvy, so the agency looked to the Web to carry the bulk of the publicity.

The team also put review units of the zBoost into the hands of the top-tier media so they could experience its benefits. Additionally, the team set up booths at trade shows and media events, as well as orchestrated an intensive review program that included various bloggers and reporters for online outlets such as CNet and Gizmodo.

"Bloggers and the online community were integral to our success, so we had to be smart about where we were online, and making sure that we gave our bloggers their credit," Anderson explains.

Results
By the end of 2007, the monthly averages of unique sessions on www.wi-ex.com had increased by more than 100% and sales had increased 330%. Online reviews and discussions snowballed, translating into PR and sales success.

The campaign also resulted in more than 90 placements, including several agenda-setting media outlets. Several articles were also syndicated throughout the country at top dailies.

"Syndication was key in deciding who would get reviews, when they would get them, and how we would work the coverage," says Sharon Cuppett, VP of marketing for Wi-Ex.

Future
Wi-Ex has several more products slated to launch in the upcoming months, and will use similar campaign tactics for each.

PRWeek's View
705 Communications wisely focused resources on the key players in technology media, molding a traditional word-of-mouth approach to the modern online space and treating bloggers and online journalists the same as traditional media.

The survey commissioned at the effort's onset also gave an irresistible hook that skeptical reporters love, and acted as main draw for those who had not personally experienced signal loss and wouldn't have otherwise been able to see what a huge market there was for a product like the zBoost.

PR team: Wi-Ex and 705 Communications (both Atlanta)

Campaign: The Branding of zBoost

Duration: January-December 2007

Budget: $70,000

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