Benjamin Group/BSMG Worldwide (BG/BSMG) faced a complicated task creating a media relations program for a new client in June 1999. Quantum Corporation had just acquired a small start up company (Meridian Data) with a unique product called network attached storage (NAS) aimed at an emerging technology market sector. The product had only limited success under the previous company's marketing and sales direction. It was hoped that by leveraging the well-respected Quantum brand, the company could create 1) much greater market acceptance of this new category of product, and 2) sales success among networking professionals responsible for corporate workgroup computer networks.
BG/BSMG was chartered to strategically develop a media campaign to help educate the target audience as to the product's uses, influence its adoption as an alternative for multi-purpose Intel-based servers, and build brand preference for the Quantum product. Because ease-of-use and quickness of installation were the two key attributes of the product, it was determined that the most effective means of conveying these messages was to encourage the media to actually use it. Thus the agency focused on developing an aggressive product reviews program to showcase the capabilities of the new technology.
As a result, in a period of just over one year, awareness for the NAS category has grown exponentially. The market has been forecasted to grow into a multi-billion dollar opportunity by 2003, sales of the product have grown 1,000 percent, and according to an independent research firm, Quantum currently dominates the market with 85 percent market share. The product reviews program has seeded 50 top-tier product reviews in top-tier trade and business publications winning 21 product awards in a period of 15 months. Corporate network professionals now consider NAS a preferred option for adding quick and cost-effective additional storage to corporate or remote computer networks.
To achieve the program's desired success; market dynamics had to be taken into consideration. As an emerging technology, Quantum needed to build credibility and awareness for the NAS category through extensive education to create a sizeable market opportunity in order to receive an adequate ROI on its acquisition investment.
The biggest challenge BG/BSMG faced was building awareness for NAS -- an unknown technology. The program had to start at square one to educate the media, analysts, resellers and consumers on the product category's key benefits. Consequently, the starting measuring metric to evaluate future success was set at zero.
The incumbent methods of adding storage to a network ¾ using new NT servers or upgrading existing servers with larger hard disk drives ¾ dominated the thinking of network professionals even though both solutions were harder to implement, more expensive and required substantially more time to install. In the shadow of this confusion, another promising emerging storage technology with a similar acronym (SAN) was receiving far more attention. As a result, NAS was excluded from discussions regarding storage requirements and needs.
Further perpetuating the confusion surrounding NAS and its benefits, Meridian Data had incorrectly positioned the new technology for the small office/home office (SOHO) market, causing corporate networking professionals to immediately dismiss NAS as a solution unable to meet their growing corporate storage requirements.
DEFINING THE OBJECTIVES
To be successful in establishing brand identity and preference, Quantum required a media program to help educate the industry through timely and continuous press coverage. The resulting product reviews program focused on three key areas:
Educate the media, analysts, resellers and end-users on the technology and product benefits
Influence market adoption by networking professionals via proper product positioning for workgroup computing
Build brand preference for Quantum's Snap Server NAS solution within corporate workgroup environments
The media pitch emphasized three important product aspects; ease-of-use, cost effectiveness and its non-disruptive installation process. By highlighting these distinguishing attributes, NAS was immediately positioned as the preferred choice to traditional means of adding network storage creating a credible position of strength among networking professionals.
The product reviews program reinforced the strategy by seeding product among key trade and business publication review journalists to validate the product's positioning and technology benefits. The benefits were clear.
A product reviews program was the fastest way to receive industry wide exposure to help educate all audiences within the market on the product category and its benefits.
Product reviews gave Quantum the opportunity to work with reviewers to properly realign product and category positioning for workgroup networks.
It was known that corporate networking professionals relied heavily on product reviews to select new products for their networks reducing critical sales cycle times.
CAN'T ARGUE WITH THE RESULTS...
In just 15 months Quantum has established itself as the clear market leader in the workgroup NAS market. In PC Data's Distributor Hardware Report, July 2000, Quantum was reported to own 85 percent of the market segment. For the fourth quarter ending December 31, 2000, sales for Quantum's Snap Servers surpassed $20 million -- an increase of 1,000 percent over the same quarter the previous year. During the same period of time, resellers have also grown to more than 2,000 from less than 100.
Industry analysts now actively track and forecast the NAS market category with a special interest in how NAS appliances are impacting NT server sales. Gartner's Dataquest forecasts the workgroup NAS market to reach $1.8 billion by 2003, a tremendous rise from the paltry forecast of $45 million in 1999.
Since October 1999, the Snap Server has been seeded for 50 reviews in top-tier industry trade journals and business publications winning 21 product awards. The number of unsolicited reviewers' requests has grown from none in 1999 to more than 15 in 2000 -- illustrating that the market segment is now well defined. Trade publications including PC Magazine, InternetWeek, Network Computing and Network World have run extensive reviews in the past year, and leading business publications including The Los Angeles Times, BusinessWeek and USA Today have eagerly jumped on-board the SNAP Server reviews wagon.
In 2000, five of Quantum's top-tier publications included NAS round up reviews on their editorial calendar. This is another clear indication that NAS has received market validation with competition emerging from Maxtor, Intel, Compaq, Dell and others. The reviews program for Quantum has been a major catalyst in building NAS into a billion-dollar market and bringing it into the mainstream.