Trevor Stafford is the Editor of Red Canary, a terrific community site for software professionals and entrepreneurs in Canada. (“Red” canaries are a hybrid species that require careful nurturing and very hard work — like software startups.) Trevor is also an experienced magazine journalist and a frequent contributor to Found|READ. He sent us this current piece — a review of some very clever marketing strategies by Toronto-based BluecatNetworks, which specializes in the (incredibly boring) area of “IP address management and security platforms.” If Bluecat’s founders, Michael and Richard Hyatt, can make this business interesting–and they do–we figure they’re worthy studying. Bluecat is today’s Case Study.
Give me 10 minutes on the website of a typical Canadian technology company and I will punch holes in it that are twelve shades of nasty.
Some caltrops: Unfriendly navigation, long paragraphs of small text with no nutritional value, bland employment sections, lack of downloadable mar-com, zero multimedia, no press materials, no feedback mechanisms, and so on. There are sites where I can’t even figure out what the company _does_.
(Jimmy was not a pretty man)
There are no excuses for this, but there may be reasons: Canadian investment funding is usually low, so marketing budgets can be small (or not there at all). There’s a Marianas trench between marketing and engineering that’s rarely spanned (money is excellent bridge material), and small companies often drink their own Kool-Aid and forget that they need to explain things.
Oh, and marketing personnel can be blithely incompetent.
I’m not so foolish to think that a website is the only aspect of technology marketing, but if the public face of your company looks like Jimmy Durante, then I have doubts about the efficacy of everything else you’re doing.
Bluecat Networks are _not_ incompetent. They are very, very good marketers. (you can read their Red Canary profile here)
*First*, Bluecat’s site is clean and purposeful. Sections have overviews. Information is well-ordered and accessible from multiple links. The language they use is appropriate to what a visitor is likely to want to read. And they tout BENEFITS, not FEATURES. This is Marketing 101 executed at a 401 level.
*Second*, Bluecat’s supporting resources are endless. There are videos for products, services and solutions, backed by a library (literally) of whitepapers, brochures, case studies and briefs. There are full-size images of their logo and other products for press use.
There are plenty of man-hours here and this was probably pretty costly. You tell me if it looks like money well spent. Or you can refer to their 18th place ranking on the Fast 50.
*Third*, they use commercials brilliantly and via FREE media (including their website), to entertain a captive audience. The spot below has 290,000+ views on YouTube. Even if one-tenth of 1% of these views turned into leads, this commercial would be a success. I’ll bet they are using Bluecat employees as well.
Here’s another one:
Check out their video testimonials as well.
As entertaining as these are, they still satisfy a basic tenet of advertising: convey a product benefit.
Is Bluecat’s site perfect? No. Their text is _way_ too small. 10 point text is difficult to read and impossible to read for any length of time.
But overall, the site is the best I have ever seen from a Canadian tech company, and that makes me think they do a good job at other aspects of marketing.
Why don’t more Canadian tech companies follow Bluecat’s example? Web marketing is, dollar for dollar, cheaper than other mediums and easier to measure and gauge. Shouldn’t technology companies have an advantage here?
Read more of Trevor’s posts here.