Trellix "Tell the World!" campaign
The company I work for (and founded), Trellix Corporation, has been running a very interesting direct marketing campaign. It's called "Tell the World!". Other people have found it very interesting, and it has even gotten some press, so I thought I'd write it up here on my log, too. It's an instructive example of clever marketing. (I didn't create it, and many outsiders have told us that, so I can say it without much worry of bias.)

The challenge: Letting customers know who we are and why they should talk to us
Trellix had a challenge with our new server and browser-based editing system, Trellix Web Express. Rather than making it available under our own brand, we only provide it as a private-label product for other company's web communities. So, for example, Lycos' Tripod uses Trellix Web Express, under their name "Tripod Site Builder", as their main beginner web site creation system.

The problem was that few of our potential licensees (community, portal, and other destination sites) knew who we were or why they should deal with us. We needed to let them know why they should take our telephone call and have a meeting with us.

Our marketing department brought in a small advertising firm from New York City, the Ellenson Group. Together we brainstormed. We needed an appropriate message and a means of communicating that message to the right people.

The message we decided upon is that users of Trellix products are passionate: Passionate about what their web site is about and passionate about our tools. "Enthusiastic people. People who will return and even attract other visitors." Our products, which make creating rich, multi-page web sites easy, are especially well suited to such people.

To show that passion, we'd just highlight our real users and let them speak for themselves. No "invented" person could compare to the impact of seeing our real users, and we have lots of them and know who many of them are.

Rather than drop the millions (or even tens of millions) that many dot COMs do in "brand-building", we chose a much more targeted and cost-effective approach.

The means chosen was very specific to our task. We figured out that there are only a few hundred potential licensees that needed to be targeted at first. That meant just a few hundred key decision makers to reach, one at each company, plus those around them. Why take out expensive ads in the Wall Street Journal and reach hundreds of thousands or millions of extra people with a weak message when you can spend more per person and only reach the people you need to with something visceral?

So, the decision was made to produce a short, high-quality video and send it to them. But, how do you get them to watch the video? Most business people don't have the means to watch it in their office/cubicle. They'd have to be pretty motivated to take it home to watch. Well, we'll send them a TV/VCR system with the video. While that sounds extravagant, if you think about it, for just a few hundred people, FedEx, video and print production, and other costs are much more than the TVs. The Ellenson Group had come up with just the right combination. Receiving the TV right then and there was the "hook" to get them to watch a short tape.

The tape had to be short and compelling. We had a few users of our existing Windows client-based Trellix Web software send us a homemade "audition" tape to see how they came across on screen. Then we sent out a professional production crew to spend a day with each of them filming material for their one-minute segment.

I happened to be in Nantucket when one segment was being shot: Kevin Shore of "A Shore Thing" -- a clambake company. I wrote this up in my log on May 8, 2000.

Kevin pulling on canvas surrounded by people and a camera crew with a boom mike  Trellix Nantucket, scene 110, take...etc.
Filming one of the real users
What it's like to get it
When it was all put together, we sent it out. Here's how the campaign works from the receiving end:

Day 1: Colleagues of the intended recipient receive a brightly colored little 5"x5"x5" cube by FedEx. Around four sides are the letters "M E E T". In smaller letters are lines like "A man who's eaten more than 5,000 lobsters", and "An actor who tap dances in nun's habit". Inside is a card saying that "[person in their company] will be getting a bigger box tomorrow." Purpose: create some "buzz".

The little box

Day 2: The chosen person receives a big 2'x2'x2' cube by FedEx. It looks just like the little cubes, only larger. Inside, there's a videotape in a matching sleeve and a very high quality, nicely bound brochure. "For maximum enjoyment, play videotape first" it says on the cover of the tape. Also in the box, a TV/VCR combination unit, ready to plug in.

The big box and main content
Pop the tape in the TV, and three short segments play.

You see a character actor who explains how she needs to be able to do almost anything in her job, from tap dancing as a nun to singing as a Norse god. She shows how on a stage, all the while explaining how Trellix Web helped her build a web site to show off her talents. "The point of building your own web site is that you must self-promote. Book me today! ...I absolutely love being the center of attention. You have to be passionate about something that takes so much training," she says about her acting, as the video cuts to her doing a guerrilla impersonation. Then in an accent holding lots of beer mugs, "I use Trellix. Tell the world!"

The character actor showing her versatility, plugging Trellix
The second one-minute segment is Kevin Shore, showing how he does a clambake. "...I don't really feel like I'm a mass murderer, though I've murdered over a million lobsters...With Trellix, I built this site on a ferry ride, that takes under two hours, and I was completely new to the software...I'm sure there are many small businesses out there with web sites. They're all shortchanged if they aren't using Trellix," he says, and then stands up in front of a lighthouse on the beach and yells "Tell the world!"

"Tell the world"
Finally, we see two rabbit breeders who won "breeder of the year" for their Trellix Web-created web site. From their house overflowing with hundreds of bunnies, they say "We love our bunnies, and Trellix lets us tell the world!"

"We love our bunnies"
The screen goes black and up comes these messages: "Technology that inspires passion... Support that generates loyalty... A partnership that produces results... Trellix -- Tell the world... We'll be calling you."

The brochure has pictures, URLs, contact info, and links to other users' web sites.

Simple. Fun. Very professionally done. Very real, very passionate people.

Day 3: One of our sales people calls to see if we can make an appointment to meet.

It worked well
This campaign has been extremely effective. The recipients are usually seasoned marketing professionals and they fully understand how sharply focused and well done this campaign is. The FedExes, the TV, the video. If we can execute like this and get them users as passionate as those shown, we're worth talking to.

It's nice when a marketing program works.

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