SOFTRAX Corporation is a small company that was not getting press recognition. They viewed themselves as an e-business infrastructure, which put them into a very large undefined market. They could be described as providers of financial/operations software and/or revenue management solutions but this is to narrowed a market.
Miller/Shandwick Technologies, M/ST, recommended SOFTRAX evaluate their message, brainstorm their main objectives and aim their key messages toward those individuals who would be most effected. M/ST chose to aim SOFTRAX messaging at CFOs who are currently in the spotlight due to increased SEC rulings. We needed a creative idea combined with a small venue where we could be guaranteed press would turn out.
M/ST wanted to make a splash at the Spring Internet World Trade show held April 3-7 in Los Angeles. JP Davis hosted a small press cocktail party prior to Spring Internet World. The beauty of this event is that the media attend knowing they will be pitched - they use it as an opportunity to get the inside scoop on the smaller companies that are otherwise lost on the giant trade show floors.
JP Davis also provides a relaxed environment where just about anything goes - So we came up with the theme "Got Bail?" aiming to tie it back to SOFTRAX keeping CFOs out of jail. (If companies do not comply with SEC and FASB rulings - CFOs can get in BIG trouble). We took it one step further - creating a number of props supporting the theme to increase interest.
Until December of 1999, the software industry had relative freedom in how they recognized revenue. In December, the SEC released SAB 101A and 101B, which provided guidelines as to how these companies could recognize revenue. The days when a software company could recognize in the first quarter money that was generated in the third quarter were over. What this means for software companies is that this is one more crucial benchmark for venture capitalists to consider.
SOFTRAX Corporation is an e-business infrastructure software company that provides real solutions to other software companies, to application service providers (ASPs) and to Internet companies who need to sort out complex revenue management situations. Despite the challenges posed by complex Internet Age business models, companies like ours are providing solutions to aid in the practice of sound financial management. SOFTRAX software will allow companies finance their revenue and keep their CFO’s out of jail.
Two M/ST PR professionals dressed up for the event. One as a police officer and the other wore a small sandwich-board with the words "GOT BAIL?" written on both sides. The police officer handed out "tickets" (see appendix A) to editors, explaining what “Got Bail” meant and what SOFTRAX does. To ensure that editors would come to the booth, chances to win a CD player, Palm VII and VW bug were also mentioned.
Editors were summoned to appear at the SOFTRAX booth (#5655) to:
- learn how to recognize deferred revenue correctly,
- assure compliance with SEC rules (SOP97-2 and 98-9),
- maximize revenue from sales, upgrades, licenses, contracts subscriptions and renewals,
- track installed customer-base information to capitalize on new sales opportunities and
- integrate data, to make better business decisions and assure the company’s continued growth.
At Booth #5655, M/ST created a height chart with the neck label "SOB-98" that editors could wear around their neck like police stations use for mug shots, displayed it at the table, and took "mug shots" of various members of the media with a Polaroid camera. (The beauty of the neck label was that SOB-98 was actually the FASB ruling that addressed compliance issues). We inserted the picture into a photo frame that had the SOFTRAX logo and read, "Got Bail?" We wanted the editors to have something they'd likely hang onto. People tend to throw away mouse pads and rubber balls, but rarely do they throw away pictures of themselves.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
This event was a success. The “Got Bail” theme attracted editors from eWeek, The Economist, Internet.com, and Fortune Small Business to name a few. SOFTRAX Corporation was mentioned in a Fortune Small Business roundup article. The “Got Bail” sandwich board, worn by a M/ST PR professional caught editor’s attention and enticed them to visit the SOFTRAX booth. Once at the booth, editors received information about SOFTRAX services and the future plans of the company and its software.