Seagate Technology PLC (also known as Seagate) incorporated in 1978 as Shugart Technology is an American-founded data storage company. It was founded by Al Shugart, Tom Mitchell, Doug Mahon, Finish Conner and Syed Iftikar. The company came into being when Conner approached Shugart with the idea of starting a new company to develop 5.25-inch HDDs which Conner predicted would be a coming economic boom in the disk drive market. The name was changed to Seagate Technology to avoid a lawsuit from Xerox’s subsidiary Shugart Associates (also founded by Shugart). The company’s first product, the 5-megabyte ST-506, was released in 1980, it was the first hard disk to fit the 5.25-inch form factor of the Shugart “mini-floppy” drive. They were major supplier in the microcomputer market during the 1980s, especially after the introduction of the IBM XT in 1983. It is one of the global leader in data storage solutions and has been providing storage devices at the center of computers for more than 30 years with a net income of 1.57 billion USD in 2014. They are makers of hard disk drives, solid-state drives and now solid state hybrid drives. It has 40% market share among HDD makers, the other being Western Digital (44%) and Toshiba (16%). The majority of its business comes from laptop drives sales through companies using its drives in the devices they produce.
Seagate derives majority of its laptop drive sales from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), which use the company’s drives in the devices the produce. For many end users, these drives remain anonymous, simply another piece of the tiny jigsaw puzzle inside their computers.
Therefore, Seagate had been indirectly compelled to utilize B2B channels to reach end-users for launch of their new storage devices. This time around for the launch of their new solid state hybrid drives they wanted to disrupt themselves and bypass traditional channels and reach the end-users directly through B2C model
For the launch they wanted to attract their most influential customers such as gamers and other tech enthusiasts, with limited expenditures.
Seagate wanted to create a new launch model that focuses on viral marketing channels and utilizes digital media as a potent tool to create content and engage with customers directly.
Seagate decided to pull off an online event for the launch with an aim to get 1000 attendees. They partnered with CISCO to utilize its WebEx online tools which Seagate was already using internally for company meetings. Once the digital medium was decided, Seagate’s marketing team shortened there work by focusing traffic generation for the future webcast. It did so by sparking interest among analysts and the media through product demonstrations, by banners for the webcast displayed on the sites of direct marketing partners such as Tiger Direct and Newegg.com, which was well supplemented through social media. The whole campaign completed in five months. Seagate broadcast the online launch event from its office with four speakers and 1800 attendees.
The highly successful event generated closed to 5000 leads. Exceeded initial unit sales goal by 300 percent, doubling sales forecast within one week of launch. Created instant backlog of demand for Seagate’s new solid state hybrid drive. Created viral marketing effect with 4000 views of the webcast and 38,880 YouTube views of the webcast in four-month period. Within two weeks of the webcast, its OEMs were asking for information about the solid state hybrid drive and requesting samples, because their customers were demanding it. Typically, OEMs dont co-brand other companies components, but due the hype that was generated because of the webcast, there was a shift in approach of the OEMs, now they were open to marketing opportunities with solid state hybrid drive by Seagate. The tremendous response to the online launch event opened up a sure-fire, low-cost strategy for engaging with consumers and creating an impact together with them.
Seagate’s campaign is a classic example of using insights from its most loyal and influential customers (gamers and tech enthusiasts) to create a launching strategy using various Paid (Product demonstrations, Web Banners etc. ), Earned (influential customers like gamers and tech enthusiasts spreading the word through their online presence and communities) and Owned (Social Media, Blogs) media. After listening to their loyal customers, Seagate took the decision to disrupt their age-old B2B model and to utilize the webcast launching event as a platform to engage and start two way communication with the customers, reaping the benefits of a successful online event, even after months of the initial launch. The most important take away from it was that webinars / webcasts can be employed as a successful strategy not only for reaching clients but other businesses as proved by the hype created by online event which is both cost effective and easily scalable.