When Samantha Osowski left Panasonic last year to become director of marketing at Yorktel, a video conferencing services provider, the first ad tagline she employed in re-branding her new employer was “Best Kept Secret.” She has since dropped that theme, signaling that Yorktel’s first truly integrated marketing campaign has had an effect.
The 25-year-old Yorktel, which implements and manages video systems but does not sell hardware, had been focused on operations. Unified marketing strategy and integrated communications were foreign concepts to the company, which had been forced to alter the services it provides to a business world peopled by remote workers who join video conferences on tablets and smartphones. As Yorktel evolved the identity of its business into “video as a service,” Osowski leaned heavily on public relations and content marketing to redefine the company’s positioning.
“Yorktel employs some really smart, really innovative people, but they’re not public speakers or bloggers by nature,” Osowski says. “But the people to put in front of the public are the ones with the awesome ideas.” She brought in a public relations firm to give the company’s thought leaders media training and help them make their ideas palatable for a general audience. They began blogging and appearing on panels at industry events. Her initial goal: Give these engineers, who question things for a living, a sense of self-assurance.
“Part of the reason that they are so terrified to speak in front of an audience or present their ideas in print is that they are not confident in what they are saying,” Osowski says. “So we needed a cohesive change of message. We wanted to highlight who we were now, but everybody was saying different things.”
The most important concept Yorktel wanted to establish in its marketplace was that it was a managed services company, not just an audio-visual integrator. Osowski’s challenge was a difficult one: to politely inform customers and prospects that everything they knew about video conferencing was wrong. “Integrating all the new technology and remote devices is a monster. They all have their own languages,” Osowski says. “But the thought at most companies is, ‘Oh, my AV department can handle that.’”
Through trade ads and content marketing, Osowski and her communications agency established the Yorktel Videocloud brand and introduced the concept of video as a service. Much the same proposition as software as a service, the cloud-based program allows users to deploy sufficient capacity to support demand spikes across large user bases, support IT staff in handling global conferencing issues, and work out interaction between myriad reception devices. In a six-page brochure, Osowski and her team managed to clearly define what Yorktel could do for both enterprise-class corporations and smaller B2B businesses—at the same time setting the messaging agenda for Yorktel executives.
In establishing its first truly integrated marketing program, Yorktel also:
- Tied its SEO and SEM activities into its website, and updated the site with much more content, resulting in a doubling of visits in one year.
- Implemented a new CRM system.
- Established a presence in social media and tracked its rebranding progress through social listening.
Earlier this year, Osowski picked up on a comment in social media questioning what Yorktel was up to and misinterpreting what it’s new direction was about. “By monitoring this, we were able to set the record straight,” Osowski says. “We make sure there’s a dialog and we’re not just talking into the void.
Yorktel’s CTO Bin Guan, one of the “really smart people” referred to by Osowski, is now an inveterate blogger and president and COO David Phillips is beginning to fill the pipeline for a regular blog. Their enthusiasm for content marketing may well have been fueled by a 30% increase in customer inquiries and rise in revenue from $88 million to $112 million over the past year, according to Osowski.
The former Panasonic product marketer’s key learnings from her year spent creating an integrated marketing program from scratch? “You have to ensure that the company is aligned on the message, from the C-level to the janitors, especially when the company is undergoing rebranding and repositioning,” she says. “The other thing is that, even in a company where you’re working with constrained resources, you still have to find a way to do an integrated approach. No one or two tactics are going to get it done.”