Here is a case study any marketer can take to his CFO or doubting CEO to prove that word-of-mouth does indeed work.
HP marketer Scott Ballantyne and Chris Aarons of BuzzCorps wanted to boost sales of HP's Dragon laptops and whip up interest in a range of new products to be launched at a big show in Berlin.
PR hadn't worked so well. Advertising hadn't delivered the results. So they decided to try something different. They gave 31 bloggers 31 HDX Dragon laptops (one for each blog) to give away to readers.
The case study has generated a lot of press coverage. But the big thing people missed about the 31 Dragons’ campaign was that it "laid a beachhead and built up a tremendous amount of buzz that culminated in day 33 when we launched 14 new products in Berlin," Chris Aaron of BuzzCorps told me in an interview.
As you can see from the chart above and the slide show below, it built up sales of the Dragon while generating buzz before the launch of new products. Sort of a double whammy.
It did something similar for the bloggers involved, increasing their traffic as much as five times, with the lift lasting for months after the contest had finished.
How much did it cost? $250,000 for everything. For that, HP got an 86% increase in sales of the Dragon (each system retails for about $5,000), while sales of other HP PC products got a 10% lift plus a lasting increase in Web site traffic.
How did they do it? The 31-day campaign was staggered to build momentum and traffic. A new contest started on each of the blogs ever day for 31 days. It was timed to end just before the big launch of the new products in early June.
How do they get the bloggers involved?
"This is marketing at its grassroots," said Ballantyne.
"It was about picking the telephone up and bulding a relationship with someone with influence. Find the right well-read influencing bloggers and reach out to build a relationship that's open and transparent and they will do the work for you."
And that's just what these bloggers did.
Many marketers may find it hard to stomach the next part of the campaign.
HP ceded control. Not only did they give away expensive laptop computers, they gave control to the 31 bloggers.
"They gave us carte blanche to give away not the just the product but control. The first was easy and the latter was hard," says Aarons.
The only conditions were that these bloggers give the computer away in a contest and refrain from using the contest to attack HP.
Many of the bloggers asked if HP was going to provide marketing materials, banners, etc. Nope. They were on their own. As a result, many created banners, ads, content, you name it, to promote their own contests. What was fantastic was the way that these bloggers created a tsunami of excitement, publicizing and linking to each other's contests and posts.
It is amazing to see just how the bloggers seized the opportunity to promote HP at the same time as using the campaign for their own purposes.
What I like about this idea is that it is scalable. It is easy to think of ways that a marketer in a small b2b niche could adapt it, or a marketer selling to consumers could do it.
These days, every industry has bloggers who test new products and talk about industry trends who'd probably jump at a chance like this to build their own traffic with a contest.
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Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online editor Julie Power.