By Nathan Rudyk
Building a brand platform to carry a start-up through its crucial first two or three years is a big responsibility. If it works, you've built a lasting company that can create wealth and jobs for decades. If it doesn't, you've created an "entrepreneurial learning experience". At market2world, we prefer the former, and here's a brief case study of how we did it for a ground-zero CSI technology company.
In the summer of 2009 we were approached by two partners in a new venture called Pyramidal Technologies. Their product, near completion at the time, was ALIAS, or Advanced balLIstics Analysis System. ALIAS's mission, as you'll learn from our product demo video below, is simple to understand, and amazing in application: Solve more crimes, convict more criminals, and save more lives with the world's most advanced 3D imaging, correlation, visualization and confirmation system that delivers an exponential increase in cartridge and bullet data available for forensic investigations.
The company's two partners, CEO Mike Barrett, and CTO Ardavan Tajbaksh, respectively had deep roots in the forensic ballistics industry and advanced computer science. Initially we were in a shoot-out with a Toronto ad agency that had deep branding experience, but in consumer products like coffee. Our team's experience won the day based on our decades of niche marketing and excellent grasp of the workings of knowledge-based startups. Other factors included our ability to out-price our competition based on speed, accurate execution, owning versus renting our office space, and not being saddled with overhead-creating layers of VPs and account managers.
As we tend to recommend to any new start-up, particularly those without foundation customers, creating market awareness for a product with global ambitions often means finding a global launch-pad in the form of a trade show or other industry event where the target market is gathered. Then, with effective sales collaterals, trade show booth and a Web site aimed, like a bullet, at the target market of firearms examiners and technicians, we launched ALIAS using public relations as our fastest route to building corporate brand and product credibility.
PR? Yes. As promotion gurus Al and Laura Reis detail in their book The Fall of Advertising (and the Rise of PR), in the 21st century, "skillful public relations is what sells, not advertising" (and with respect to our ad agency competition, a little company called Starbucks is an excellent PR versus advertising success story detailed in The Fall of Advertising).
With Pyramidal Technologies, a Barbados-based company, our PR-led launch took place at the 16th annual European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) Expert Working Group Firearms and Gunshot Residue (GSR) meeting in Wiesbaden, Germany, where ALIAS was demonstrated for the first time to international firearms experts.
The first ALIAS product demos were a hit. All of our product benefits were validated, and then some. And over the following three years, we systematically pitched ALIAS to every key forensic evidence publication, industry journal and policing magazine worldwide to ensure that its target market is fully aware that ALIAS is the most capable, advanced product in its class. You can see our international PR results here, from Jane's Police Product Review in the UK, to Evidence Technology Magazine in the US to the Association of Firearm and Toolmark Examiners (AFTE) Journal read and respected worldwide.
Pyramidal Technologies' founders along with their sales and support team have worked extremely hard, travelling the globe several times over to insert ALIAS into the annually reviewed budgets of police forces, security and military organizations – a process that requires displacing a core technology that they've already invested heavily into, so not a trivial sales task, and a long sales cycle akin to that of any technology being sold to large bureaucratic enterprises. Three years later, the results are an eight-figure sales pipeline, a very bright future for Pyramidal Technologies and ALIAS, and market2world will be announcing these sales wins over the coming year.
But don't take our word for it. Here's what Mike Barrett, Pyramidal's CEO says about working with market2world: