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Launch of Business-Class Desktop and Rackmount Network-Attached Storage Devices
In early 2009, as part of NETGEAR‘s enhanced focus on business solutions, the company asked Sterling to support its entry into the highly competitive market for network-attached storage (NAS) solutions for up to 500 users at small and midmarket businesses (SMBs).
While NETGEAR had become a recognized leader for networking and media devices for general consumers and prosumers, the storage lines it planned to launch would put it in competition not only with companies playing in consumer storage, such as Buffalo, Iomega, Seagate and Snap, but also with much larger and better-known companies such as EMC, HP, IBM, and NetApp, among others. The long-term plan incorporated five launches under the “ReadyNAS for Business” umbrella over the following year, including NAS products for desktops, rackmounted devices, and a cloud-based backup service.
NETGEAR planned an integrated sales and marketing program incorporating public relations, advertising, traditional marketing, e-marketing, co-marketing efforts, and channel training. In order to establish the business storage brand among the well-entrenched competition, Sterling identified the following overarching program objectives for public relations:
- Showcase a market vision that defined an immediate need while illustrating NETGEAR’s role as a catalyst in an ongoing evolution to a new model, moving upmarket in a classic disruptive model
- Secure extensive positive coverage of the storage products within top-tier SMB and channel media
- Augment lead generation by dramatically increasing recognition of NETGEAR’s brand within target SMB audiences and the various resellers that serve them
- Lay the foundation for future product announcements throughout 2009 and early 2010
Sterling identified the CeBIT 2009 trade show in Hanover, Germany, the world’s largest tech event, as the vehicle at which NETGEAR could articulate its vision for the SMB market, in order to spur demand for, and visibility and awareness of, its new storage portfolio among SMB IT end users and channel partners. At this show, NETGEAR announced its cloud-based back-up service, ReadyNAS Cloud. To capitalize on the announcement, one month after CeBIT the company launched its new desktop device, ReadyNAS NVX, at the Storage Networking World (SNW) trade show, and subsequently rolled out two new rackmount-NAS in the following two consecutive months.
Prior to the CeBIT and SNW launches, Sterling crafted and initiated a highly-focused media plan that included:
- Identifying key themes and messaging related to virtualization and cloud computing for both the enterprise and small business, for use in all communications (press releases, product data sheets, email marketing collateral, etc.)
- Holding media training for product spokespersons
- Holding “acid test” briefings prior to CeBIT to test the new messaging and hone the product slide presentation
- Holding briefings with US media by phone prior to CeBIT
- Leveraging third-party validation from analysts, channel and customers to demonstrate NETGEAR’s superior strategy
- Maintaining a “rolling thunder” approach to promoting the ReadyNAS line, by issuing a steady stream of announcements over four consecutive months in spring 2009
- Highlighting industry validation such as VMWare Ready certification for the NFS and iSCSI protocols, demonstrating compatibility with the leading virtualization platform
- Spotlighting industry leadership by securing a speaking slot at Storage Networking World 2009 conference in conjunction with the ReadyNAS NVX desktop launch
- Using social media tools to deliver the cost benefits and “ease-of-use” message to build a community of SMB users and evangelists, including promotion of two storage-focused videos
- Establishing proof points that NETGEAR technology is best-in-class through a combination of standalone reviews and competitive “shoot-outs” with IT media
Over the course of four months in the spring of 2009, Sterling secured 44 briefings with media and analysts that produced 37 unique feature articles, in addition to the dozens of postings of the four storage-focused press releases.
At CeBIT 2009 itself, NETGEAR took center stage when Sterling secured a slot for its booth on the itinerary of visiting dignitaries German Chancellor Angela Merkel and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A follow-on launch of new rackmount NAS devices at CeBIT 2010 incorporated 11 one-to-one phone briefings that resulted in eight feature articles.
Over the course of 18 months, Sterling facilitated hands-on product reviews of the ReadyNAS rackmount devices in both InfoWorld and Network World. Meanwhile Sterling secured over 15 reviews of the easier-to-test desktop products with Ars Technica, Computer Power User, Computerworld, CRN, EDN, Entrepreneur, Forbes, InfoWorld, Laptop, PC Mag, Popular Photography, Small Business Computing, SmallNetBuilder, The Tech Stop and Tom’s Hardware.
As a result of this push, Gartner ranked NETGEAR among the top five global players in NAS/unified storage systems in 2009, leading the market for storage systems priced under $5,000, and in third place for systems priced under $25,000.