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November 17, 2005

LiveVault Viral Marketing Interview with Bob Cramer

LiveVault is a Marlborough based security backup and recovery solutions company. Bob Cramer the CEO of LiveVault explains how he developed a highly successful viral video campaign for his company by employing John Cleese to make a funny video about the problems of backup recovery in his industry.

The LiveVault video has received over one million downloads in the last ten months. The video is similar to jib jab or subservient chicken projects, however I think LiveVault’s is one of the best existing examples of a business-to-business video viral marketing campaign.

LiveVault recently launched a second promotional webinar called “John Cleese’s completely unbiased and thoroughly un-roman online backup webinar?

I wanted to understand how LiveVault seeded the original viral marketing campaign and managed the video’s success; I contacted Bob Cramer to find out how his company planned and launched “The Institute for Backup Trauma? video with John Cleese.

John: Tell me how the video viral marketing campaign project was developed?

Bob: LiveVault had a major product launch, we play in a niche area of a $3 billion market, we wondered how does a little company get noticed, and let people know it exists. We thought we had to do something crazy and viral. But how do you make viral happen, what might you do, you have to make the campaign interesting and funny enough, but not overly commercial.

If our campaign was to have the possibility of being viral, we had to make fun of the problem, and then add some star caliber to add validity. We even had one of the systems engineers make a home movie, and launched the movie on the Internet, but the video did not get the coverage we wanted. It was then we decided to hire John Cleese.

Our goal with the video was to achieve awareness, but it had to be a soft sell, we thought a lot about the balance between promoting our brand, and making a funny video that would be successful. That’s why we went for pure awareness, we thought we’d get more impact, while we had great results in terms of downloads. We thought for our second effort we’d stress the brand more. The second video is a webinar, we’ve discovered that a webinar is our most effective tool for sales. We bring back John Cleese as the same character, but this time in an animated yet technical but not boring webinar. It has great depth, its fairly funny and keeps you entertained. We went for a very hard sell with this second project, but made a lot of jokes around the subject paying off John Cleese. We don’t know if we will achieve the same level of downloads as the first video. Our goal this time is really to target those people who are interested in buying the service, 20,000 downloads from the right people, who are much further down the sale process is what we are aiming for this time.

John: How did you seed the original video?

Bob: Once we had developed the concept, to get the video off the ground, the initial media buy went towards standard marketing dollars for the first one or two weeks. We picked trades magazines that targeted mid to high-level executives in the industries we wanted to reach, for example, computer world. We paid for email lists, and banner ads; the total budget for the launch was under $100k over a 3-month period.

When the campaign was initially launched we’d get picked up by business week, and receive a boost of hits. We received 100,000 hits from a link on Slashdot. At our peak we had 30,000 downloads in a week. Since then it’s trickled down to between 2,000 and 10,000 visitors a week, and that’s 10 months later.

John: Who managed the selection and implementation of the seeding of the campaign?

Bob: We have a in-house marketing communication team, however we have a full time consultant, Jeff Winer who has been with us for about a year, he came on board to help develop a world class marketing launch. I estimate the total production costs were between $0.25 million to $0.5 million.

John: Have you found your blog useful in communicating information about the campaign?

Bob: Absolutely, its limited but the blog absolutely helps with supporting the program. We receive a constant readership, many thousands per week.

John: Do you monitor the blogosphere for mentions of your company and keywords? And will you use blogs to spread the word about the new webinar?

Bob: We do monitor keywords. And we will contact bloggers directly by email to let them know about the new webinar, we just started that process of contacting those people who have written about the original video and we are going to send them a private email letting them know about the new webinar.

John: What was the ROI for the campaign?

Bob: No question we had a great return, its hard to measure but it definitely paid for itself, the awareness campaign really helped to fill our sales funnel, when a prospect has a problem they come back and buy.

John’s afterward: Bob and I took some time to discuss the results of the original campaign in terms of URLs found on Google; Bob suggested I conduct a quick search on Google for the following keyword phrase combinations; “john cleese backup,? “john cleese livevault,? and “Backup trauma?. I did here are the numbers:

“John Cleese backup? 372,000
Backup trauma? 217,000

For the phrase “John Cleese livevault? Bob found 423 links in the interview earlier this week, now that number is up to 509 after a few days, of the new webinar being launched. That’s a great demonstration of the importance of emphasizing the brand of a company within a viral marketing campaign. However, both Bob and I agreed it was important to first build awareness around the issue, and links with many people who would enjoy seeing the original funny video. The second webinar would build on top of the success of the first video

Posted by johncass at November 17, 2005 10:38 AM

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