One of the beautiful things about having a strong digital agency within our amazing Chicago PR firm is that we’ve got a wide array of tools to throw at any business challenge our clients are facing.

At Walker Sands, and at Walker Sands Digital, we take the integration of PR and digital marketing very seriously, and we are constantly challenging ourselves to think of new ways to meld PR with Digital to get great results for our clients.

Want to test how good you are at coming up with a marketing strategy that blends PR tactics and digital marketing tactics? Here’s a hypothetical scenario we used in a recent Walker Sands internal training session for our Account Directors.

By the way, if you run an integrated marketing agency or teach a university class on integrated marketing, feel free to use this integrated marketing case study example, but do give us a mention.

To get started, just read through the exercise and then answer the questions at the end.

We find it’s best to do this exercise with others in small teams. Then compare notes on what you’d recommend to your client. Believe me, you’ll learn a lot just by listening to how the other teams approach the challenge and what they recommend as a go-forward marketing program.

No answers are provided because there’s no one right answer. Enjoy!

Integrated Marketing Training Session: SuperQuotes Case Study

Client Situation

A small, venture-funded software company based in Chicago, SuperQuotes, is interested in hiring your integrated marketing agency and comes to the office to discuss your services.

They have a SaaS solution called ExpertRFP that helps clients prepare RFPs for over 100 different outsourced service offerings. For example, to write an RFP for a PR agency, the end user is walked through a series of questions online. After answering the questions, the RFP is automatically generated and can be saved as a Word document.

The target market includes both SME (small and medium enterprises) and larger multinational companies. To date, however, with only one exception, they have only been able to get SME companies as customers: they have accumulated 300 small businesses as customers since their launch six months ago.

For the SME market, their SaaS RFP generation offering is sold on a per-template basis. A company can choose to simply buy and generate a single RFP, e.g. an RFP for IT support managed services. Doing so costs $250. If a company is willing to pre-pay for 5 RFP templates, the cost is $1,000. Other price points are $2,750 for 15 templates, and $10,000 for full access to all of the 100 RFP templates.

The enterprise market is a priority for the CEO and he’s frustrated that large corporations are not buying. They have even run some expensive print ads in a few procurement trades that cater to a Global 3000 corporate audience, but did not generate any leads from these ad buys. The only sale they have to date is to a large corporation in Schaumburg, based on a referral from one of the principals at the VC firm that invested $1,000,000 in SuperQuotes. That sale was $80,000, giving the customer full access to all of the ExpertRFP templates and a free upgrade to an Ariba integration module that is in the works.

Revenues to date, based on six months of operations, are a disappointing $160,000 in sales. The CEO/Founder had conservatively hoped to have done $750,000 in sales by now.

Of the 100 RFP templates they have, one template has driven 60 percent of their SME sales. It’s an RFP template for a VoiP phone system. ExpertRFP’s VoiP phone system template was mentioned in a Costco Connection article, which brought in over 2,000 visits to SuperQuotes home page. The CEO believes the other RFP template customers they have acquired resulted from either a modest PPC campaign they run ($2,000 a month) or from some ads they ran in a few small business and entrepreneur-centric print publications.

The CEO doesn’t know much about marketing or PR but he has heard good things about Walker Sands. He likes that we provide a wide variety of services and that we’ve worked with other tech startups and SaaS companies.

He’s recently hired a new COO, a former executive from BuyerZone who is an expert on all things procurement, a recognized thought leader; the CEO hopes to leverage the talents of his new COO to get the word out about SuperQuotes and the benefits of using ExpertRFP.

Early in the meeting, the CEO remarks that he’s interested in our website services because as he says “Our website is pretty weak. We were so focused on our back-end and on getting to launch that we didn’t have much time to work on the site. As you can see, it’s only about five pages covering the usual stuff — About Us, Contact Us, etc. It needs a lot of work.”

Some other verbatims from the CEO in the initial meeting include the following:

  • “We’re planning on launching an Ariba plug-in in three months for our enterprise version. We think that will be huge for us. Ariba’s installed base are large enterprise customers and they are always asking the Ariba Community about templates. We think we can become the main source of Ariba templates, and that may even position us as an acquisition target for Ariba at some point in the future.”
  • “I’m definitely interested in PR. We got a ton of sales from the Costco Connection article and that was just lucky, because I met the journalist on a flight back from San Francisco.”
  • “We’ve got 300 SME customers that we think are probably pretty happy about what they’ve bought from us, although we don’t know that for sure. The thing is most have only spent $250 with us. If we can get all of them to sign on for a 5-pack, that would be $300,000 in revenues, which would go a long way right now. I’m not even sure if they realize that we have all the templates we have. Frankly, we haven’t done a good job of staying in touch with them after they bought, which we know was a big mistake.”
  • “The big benefit we’ve been touting is that you can create an RFP in twenty minutes. Normally, this might take you days. There are some other big benefits of course, but we’re pretty sure that time is what most people value most these days, especially with everybody having to do more with less while the economy is still recovering.”
  • “This is probably not a this-year thing. But just so you know, we’ve got bigger plans for the SME market. The next evolution of our platform will allow RFP respondents to submit their responses to us online and our customers can then compare responses easily online. We’re even thinking that we can score the RFP responses and recommend who our customers should choose. It’s not as relevant to the bigger enterprise customers because they tend to have internal systems and processes for that, we think. We know the SME market much better than enterprise. That’s one reason we need more enterprise customers — so we can figure out exactly what they need and want.”
  • “Budget is less of a limitation than you might think. If we can make a compelling case to our backers, they will fund this. We just have to be able to justify it with an ROI case. At the same time, we do have some board members who are more of a bootstrap mentality. I would say we are willing to spend somewhere between $200,000 and $400,000 on this, as long as it generates sales well beyond that.”

Team Exercise

  • Come up with all the questions you would want to ask this prospective client that would help you to define a good program for them.
  • Based on what you know, develop a program that incorporates both Digital and PR for this client. Include rough budgets for each item in your program, as well as a rationale for including the item in the program and any assumptions you’ve made that led you to recommend the item.
  • Be prepared to discuss how you will manage the program and ensure that we do great work for the client.