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Provacative Research Works - Articles Surfing

If you want to double your business, then you need to get inside your client's head through proprietary research and provocative results.

By conducting proprietary research, you obtain special information that prospective clients can't find elsewhere. The foundation of client seduction is to give away useful information that demonstrates to clients you have the expertise to help them. Giving away general problem-solving information is good, but it is not good enough. You need to offer specifics, and the more provocatively you can package the results, the better.

Professionals, consultants and technology entrepreneurs can use proprietary research to obtain clients, even during tough economic times. A recent case in point is Enterpulse, an Atlanta-based Web services firm that designs and builds corporate Web sites. Projects can be extremely complex, encompassing both the external and internal Web presence of a company and serving an intricate network of customers, employees and suppliers.

According to Enterpulse, 2002 was a "now or never" year as the deepening technology recession further eroded sales and prospects. Many of the firm's larger and better-known competitors had gone bankrupt in the previous 12 months. Enterpulse, a midsized firm, actually viewed this as an opportunity to become a bigger player and gain market share in its category. But the company needed to make a bold move to raise its visibility, boost sales and leave its few remaining competitors behind.

To overcome the challenges in communicating with Enterpulse's audiences, the firm commissioned a proprietary research study through Ketchum Public Relations of heavy business Internet users. The survey results would be useful to interest the media in a new story angle on the Internet, and also to give executive information technology decision-makers compelling data for evaluating their companies' Web presence from a user perspective.

The result was 265 qualified U.S. leads for the sales force to pursue, with three of these leads quickly converting to signed contracts. The entire budget was $100,000, including $25,000 in out-of-pocket expenses. With an average engagement of $250,000 per client, this means a return on investment of at least 650 percent.

Internet death penalty

How did they do it? Enterpulse had to overcome two pivotal challenges in communicating with prospective customers:

Reporters Ketchum talked with were not particularly interested in writing about the Internet anymore -- unless the reporter could unearth a new angle and back it up with examples.

Making the case for a user-centric Web experience would require strong evidence to convince an analytical, data-oriented audience of IT decision-makers.

Ketchum Research developed and conducted a survey of more than 300 heavy Internet users in the fields of IT, sales/marketing, purchasing and human resources.

The proprietary research results revealed that users overwhelmingly expect Web sites to be user-friendly or they won't return. Enterpulse and Ketchum called this end result the "Internet Death Penalty" and showcased the phrase in press materials and media outreach to attract maximum attention. If you want attention, you need to be provocative.

How to publicize results

But being provocative is only the first step. You also need to be proactive in spreading the results of the research.

Ketchum helped Enterpulse CEO Michael Reene write a provocative white paper to alert companies to the fact that they should evaluate their Web presence from a user perspective, or else risk alienating customers. The white paper was featured on the home page of Enterpulse's Web site, www.Enterpulse.com. The firm traded the white paper for e-mail addresses and required interested persons wishing to download a free copy to first input their contact information into an online form.

Enterpulse hired Ketchum to conduct a 30-day media relations campaign. The news release was issued via Business Wire and Internet Wire. Ketchum also contacted national business media, the top 100 daily newspapers, and key trade media in the IT, banking and retail vertical markets. Reporters were provided with a link to the white paper for further information and also offered a detailed analysis of the survey results.

Media interviews were conducted with Reene, who used real-world examples of Web sites relevant to the survey results to support the white paper's premise. A bylined article (based on the news release) was written and placed in several IT-oriented publications.

Media coverage for the survey clearly convinced information technology decision-makers to take a closer look at Enterpulse's thesis -- as evidenced by more than 1,000 downloads of the white paper on the Enterpulse Web site by high-profile organizations such as Disney, American Airlines, Princeton University, Hallmark and Panasonic.

To date, 18 daily newspapers, 60 metro business journals, 20 industry/IT trade publications and four radio spots have featured Enterpulse's findings. Coverage highlights include USA Today, Newsbytes, CNET, InfoWorld, 60-plus metro business weeklies around the country and Stores Magazine.
The campaign appears to be spreading virally over time, with additional daily newspapers, Web sites and other outlets continuing to pick up the survey results from the original wire story and from publications that featured the story.

Always keep in mind that the information a potential client most wants to know is: "How does my company compare to others?" There is a hidden fear in the back of every executive's mind that some critical piece of business intelligence is missing. Nobody wants to be behind the learning curve, especially in today's rapidly changing business environment.

Submitted by:

Henry DeVries

Henry DeVries is a marketing coach and writer specializing in lead generation for professional service firms. An adjunct marketing professor at the University of California, San Diego since 1984, he is the author of "Self Marketing Secrets" and the recently published "Client Seduction." Visit http://www.newclientmarketing.com.



Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).


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