Super Heroes Wage Oki Campaign ; Ad Readership, Web registration Garners Qualified Leads

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Oki Semiconductor is feeding its sales representatives more than 1,000 qualified leads from the Internet each week -- and credit is mainly because of a print ad campaign featuring the company's own comic-book style super heroes.


The four super heroes -- Captain CODEC, NetWarrior, The Canceller and Power SAW -- promise the ads' readership of engineers "to combat the evil forces that lurk in the shadows of wired and wireless communications designs."


Also laced into the one- and two-page ads is technical information and a free super hero T-shirt offer for anyone registering at www.okisemi.com.


Mary Morrison, senior manager of marketing communications, said Oki Semiconductor, Sunnyvale, CA, removed toll-free telephone numbers from its print advertising a year ago, which left the company's Web address as the sole response option.


"We found that our target group was all on the Web," she said, "and 90 percent of them prefer to go to the Web for their technical information."


The first ad, which debuted in the August issue of the trade publication EE Times, featured Captain CODEC, who "can be found wherever there's digital coding and decoding to be done."


On July 31, the day after EE Times was released, 5,000 people visited the Oki Semiconductor site (a single-day record for the chip maker), most of whom registered to get the free shirts.


"About 75 percent of our new registrants for August and September were Captain CODEC sign-ups," Morrison said, though she stressed that a high percentage of the Web site's visitors came solely for technical information.


In November, Oki Semiconductor began running ads featuring NetWarrior. The day after it appeared in the Nov. 12 issue of EE Times, visits to the site were double the daily average for the month, Morrison said. The company also is running the campaign in two other trade publications, Electronic Design and Electronic Design News.


Visitors to the Oki Semiconductor site must register their names and contact information to download data sheets (information about products) that can be anywhere from 30 to 100 pages long. Morrison estimated that Oki Semiconductor saves $3 to $4 per downloaded data sheet and that so far the company has delivered 13,000 data sheets online.


The Oki Semiconductor site also uses cookies (tracking technology) to recognize repeat visitors and deliver personalized home pages featuring updates on products in which they've expressed an interest. What prompts engineers to shed their anonymity at the site is the speedy delivery of information, Morrison said.


"Engineers have more responsibilities and less time to meet those responsibilities than they did five years ago," she said. "Their biggest fear is not knowing about new technology, so they're willing to make some trade-offs with a Web site that helps them do their jobs."


Registrant's names are passed along to Oki Semiconductor's sales force for telephone and e-mail follow-up. Morrison said one unnamed trade publication is charging $75 each for similar leads gathered at its Web site. A side benefit to the program, Morrison said, is that sales reps have been able to get contact names that they were previously unable to get at large companies.


"People stop me and say, 'We've been doing business with this company for six years and I never knew the person's name, now I have a conversation going with them,' " Morrison said.


The campaign will run through March, when it will be up for reassessment, she said.
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