Sharp Electronics is a leading global provider of consumer and business electronics covering a wide span of markets from home entertainment to high-end medical equipment.
Sharp Document Solutions, a section of its Information Systems division, markets a range of multi function office and commercial printing machines through its own direct sales force and a small number of independent non-exclusive dealerships in the UK.
When the company launched a new range of professional printing machines, the Pro Print Series, it was initially aimed at commercial printers and high street digital copy shops. The four models had an array of innovative features including edge to edge printing from a standard A3 sheet and best in class energy efficiency.
With a flat sales graph and disappointing levels of customer satisfaction it was hoped the new range would mark an upturn in the company’s status in the production digital market. Unfortunately the new machines struggled to deliver the performance demanded by customers in the highly pressurized commercial print sector. This was compounded by their limited range which meant it was difficult to specify a Sharp device that accurately met the customer’s requirements.
Needing a new targeting and sales promotional strategy, Sharp called in Generator to review the situation and deliver a solution. We spoke with dealers and customers and quickly discovered that Sharp’s strengths – low energy consumption and innovative USPs like edge-to-edge printing and inline binding – were low on the list of requirements. The features which customers wanted were regarded as Sharp’s weaknesses.
Understanding that the product capabilities and the customers’ needs were poorly matched led us to the inevitable conclusion that new markets should be sought and that marketing the Pro Print series to commercial printers should cease until such time as they could compete effectively.
We proposed that the Pro Print range should instead be positioned as Light Production devices and targeted at print rooms in large organisations. We selected 4 industry sectors on the basis of high potential demand and where Sharp’s performance and USPs would be well matched to customer requirements. The sectors we selected were Education, Government, Corporate & Professional and Service & Retail.
Sharp accepted our recommendations and provided us with a brief to market the new range;
- Develop a campaign to generate and increase awareness of the new products across the agreed distinct vertical target audience groups including Education, Government, Corporate & Professional and Service & Retail sectors.
- Generate leads for, and sales tools to support, Sharp’s own direct sales force to provide proof of concept in selling into the new markets.
- Grow the dealer network to promote and sell the new range across the UK.
- All material was to conform to Sharp’s brand identity framework
Having identified the target groups to be approached, the agency arranged and ran focus group research to pinpoint the key requirements for each sector.
We drew up a series of propositions for each target market communicating benefits of the Pro Print range, their alignment with customers needs and the performance enhancements and added capabilities that the devices would bring to their organisations.
We developed a six-month communications and sales promotion campaign integrating the following elements:
- Micro Websites with sector specific propositioning and incentivised response mechanism
- Sector specific marketing and sales collateral
- Personalised, direct marketing online and offline
- Advertising in sector specific business trade press
- PPC and remarketing campaign
The effects of the campaign were dramatic and immediate, with high volumes of enquiries being generated across all sectors. Within six months of the campaign starting Sharp UK had exceeded their annual sales targets and were topping the European sales league, with over 30 sales orders confirmed in a single month (from a pre-campaign level of two device sales per month).
The new sales levels grew during the duration of the campaign and remainded steady once the campaign finished with annual sales outstripping pre-campaign totals by over 1000%. The opening of new markets in which Sharp is now regarded as a dominant player with market leading products has helped to build the dealer base which in turn helps drive up sales.
“Generator completely changed our view of our market and that was key to the success of the campaign. As well as helping us to stand out in new markets, it enabled our sales team to demonstrate that by selling solutions to customer problems we could generate ongoing, profitable, volume sales. That gave new dealers the confidence to successfully take on Pro Print range and we now have a solid network of dealers enthusiastically promoting and selling the range.”
Felicity Knee Sharp’s Product Manager for the Pro Print range.