“Our software business is extremely important to our company and our customers. And, from a marketing perspective, it was not well-defined. With the help of Chief Outsiders, we now have the vision to make our software business the successful business operation that it should be.”
Nedra Sadorf, President, Demco
Looking to evolve its portfolio of solutions beyond library supplies and furniture, Demco acquired Evanced Solutions, a library software company. Concerned by a decrease in the net promoter score and recognizing the need to adapt existing marketing strategy to the software business, Demco engaged Chief Outsiders, CMO, Sean Klunder. Guided by Klunder’s blend of product management and digital marketing expertise, the company successfully updated its software offering, developed a key market segment and jump-started lead generation while providing growth opportunities for key personnel.
Software Division Challenges
For more than 110 years, Demco has maintained a singular focus on supporting libraries with quality supplies, furniture and equipment. Recognizing that public libraries’ needs were evolving, especially in the area of community engagement, leadership sought to diversify the company’s offerings to provide solutions in this new area.
In 2011, Demco acquired Evanced Solutions to enter the library software business. Four years in, the business was poised for greater growth and opportunity.
“The business was not growing at the rate we expected based on market and customer needs,” explained Nedra Sadorf, President, Demco. “We were also getting feedback from customers on features and enhancements they wanted to see.”
The number of competitors entering the product space also began to accelerate. The window of opportunity for generating new business required immediate action.
Software Marketing Expertise
Demco wanted to accelerate the process of surmounting the software category learning curve. As Sadorf pointed out, “While Demco is a large organization with considerable marketing expertise and history, there are many differences to marketing in a software business.”
Sadorf and her team sought a partner who could bring critical insight and leadership to grow the software business. “In particular,” stated Sadorf, “we were looking at building our sales and marketing organization.”
Sadorf briefly considered hiring a full-time employee to lead Evanced’s marketing efforts. “But we recognized the value of getting someone who already knew the software business and could ramp up quickly,” she related.
Participation on a Demco best practices panel introduced Sean Klunder of Chief Outsiders to Sadorf. Impressed by his expertise and contribution on the panel, Sadorf brought Klunder in for an extended engagement.
“What Sean brought to the table was a very strategic perspective, a roll-up-the-sleeves approach, marketing expertise, and specifically, his experience inside software companies,” she explained.
The nine-month Chief Outsiders engagement began in October, 2015. Conducting initial on-site planning sessions, followed by weekly co-ordination calls, Klunder concentrated on five specific areas to advance Demco’s technology marketing strategy.
- Competitive analysis
- Product development
- Product launch planning
- Packaging and pricing
- Marketing leadership development
“He did it to the level that was necessary to drive the business outcome not just get the task completed,” added Sadorf. “I also found him to be very collaborative, resulting in an effective interaction to create quality marketing deliverables.”
Klunder’s thorough competitive and product feature analysis also impressed Sadorf. “What Sean put together was probably the most detailed, comprehensive look at the competitive landscape that I have seen,” she explained. “He was very quick at learning the business.”
In addition, he crafted two surveys to clarify needs surrounding event and room management within the public library space. Then, he led the execution of the surveys and summarized key takeaways to inform the product road map and development strategy.
“The surveys provided very specific and actionable insight around adoption of software for events and room management, and some of the trends were surprising to us,” shared Sadorf.
Market-focused Product Development and Positioning
About this time, Demco acquired Boopsie, another software company that builds mobile apps for libraries. Throughout the engagement, Klunder worked closely with the Evanced and Boopsie product development teams, leading a disciplined process to make these products more competitive.
He prioritized product features with a detailed financial analysis and sharpened marketing focus. Outputs included both product feature optimization and new product positioning.
Packaging, Pricing and Product Launch Planning
Klunder also contributed heavily to product packaging and pricing strategies with innovations intended to increase upsell opportunities and the average order value.
“We saw an opportunity to create more solution bundles, based on the way customers use the products,” he explained. “We put together a discounted pricing strategy for product packages that was very attractive.”
He also developed a formal product launch strategy for each of the offerings, including the metrics to measure lead generation and procedures for distributing leads to sales.
Evanced 2016 Product and Marketing Strategy
- Launch new versions of product offerings
- Create, market, and sell offering “packages”
- Update Evanced website digital experience
- Direct marketing campaigns for lead generation
- Support sales with ongoing training & communications
- Create business case analysis for product investments
- Implement formal customer contract process
- Migrate customers off legacy products
- Integrate and link Evanced Demco, and Boopsie
Klunder worked closely with key employees, often sharing what worked with Mary Casey, the Boopsie marketing director, who would eventually take over marketing efforts company-wide.
“Sean and Mary collaborated well in terms of developing key marketing tactics to execute for Q2 of 2016 based on their shared learning and experience.” Sadorf reported.
With strategy defined and product enhancements under way, Klunder helped Demco roll out a detailed marketing plan for Evanced including,
- Website enhancements
- Search engine optimization
- Paid search campaigns
- Product demonstration and ‘Summer Reading’ promotional videos
- Product sell sheets and competitive kill sheets
- Direct mail and email campaigns
- Trade show planning and
- Press Releases.
Greater Focus and Confidence in Development
Klunder’s efforts to leverage the customers’ voice into product design has resulted in major improvements. “We have versions of those products in the market today that customers have told us are significantly better than those that have preceded them,” related Sadorf.
The process gave Demco leadership confidence in their ability to prioritize product enhancements and dedicate resources to the areas that would have the biggest customer impact.
Developed Rooms and Events Segment
Mike Grasee, Global Growth Officer, reports that the results of the customer surveys, “have been very informative for us in terms of our practice and marketing strategy,” helping Evanced develop a key market segment.
“The data gathered on how libraries use software to manage rooms and events alerted us to opportunities that we have been able to develop in that area,” he explained.
Accelerated Lead Generation
Consistency in focus and message within all marketing channels has increased awareness and enhanced lead generation across the business. And, Klunder often shared results from Evanced paid search campaigns with other divisions to good effect.
Grasee reports, “When Mary implemented similar campaigns in her division, we actually saw even better paid search results. This shared learning process has helped accelerate the number of leads that we’re generating.”
Foundation for Opportunity
In addition to a customer-focused development process, increased market awareness and increasing numbers of leads, the partnership with Chief Outsiders led to a personally satisfying result for Sadorf.
“I’m delighted that we’ve created opportunity for coworkers,” she related. “Because the foundation is there, we were able to leverage an existing associate into the marketing lead role. Sean’s help in building that fundamental marketing structure was a big part of getting the organization into shape so we could create those opportunities.”