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Case Study: How a Video Podcast Series Garnered a Top Industry Award and 68,500 views in 12 Months

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Company: Tellabs
Contact: Mike O'Malley, Director External Marketing
Location: Naperville, Ill.
Industry: Telecommunications, B2B
Annual revenue: $464,000,000
Number of employees: 3000

Quick Read:

Naperville, Illinois-based Tellabs provides telecommunications solutions to telecom service providers, enabling them to deliver voice, video, and data services over wireline and wireless networks.

The firm wanted to cut through the "line chatter" in the highly competitive telecom industry and change its traditional image. Accordingly, in April 2007 Tellabs launched its "Get Schooled" video-podcast series on its Inspire The New Life Web site.

Intended to provide customers and industry personnel the latest information on Tellabs in a creative way, and in the process enhance its credibility with customers, the series took four months to create.


Tellabs also wanted to showcase the depth and breadth of its offerings and raise its thought leadership profile in the industry.

"Get Schooled" did that and more, generating tens of thousands of views, landing a coveted interview with the head of telecom research for Reuters, and garnering a MarCom Platinum Creative Award in 2008.

The Challenge:

Naperville, Illinois-based Tellabs provides telecommunications solutions to telecom service providers and others—including wireline, wireless and cable TV companies worldwide, as well as government agencies—enabling them to deliver voice, video, and data services over wireline and wireless networks.

Among Tellabs customer are Verizon, BellSouth, NTT Communications of Japan, Telstra of Australia, Telkom South Africa and Telecom Italia.

Tellabs wanted to cut through the "line chatter" in the highly competitive telecom industry, change its traditional image, and stand out. It wanted to showcase the entire range of its offerings, including those for which it was not well known. It also wanted to establish its thought leadership across a myriad technology topics—again, some of which Tellabs was not traditionally known for.

However, Tellabs had a limited budget, and a large-scale traditional media campaign was out of the question.

Moreover, Tellabs wanted to tap into the power of new media, a channel that was a natural fit for its brand as a telecom solution provider—including deep fiber access solutions.

Accordingly, the idea of a video-podcast series began to take shape. Tellabs wanted to deliver video podcasts to reinforce the importance of video and bandwidth to users.

"We wanted to be able to deliver messages in a more dynamic and interactive manner and over means that Tellabs supports," noted Mike O'Malley, director of external marketing at Tellabs.

Its customers and potential customers were, almost by definition, those who would consider online content best suited to their learning preferences.

The Campaign:

Intended to provide customers and industry personnel the latest information on Tellabs in a creative way, and in the process enhance its credibility with customers, the "Get Schooled" video-podcast series took four months to create.

A pilot podcast was previewed by senior Tellabs executives in January 2007. The initial "Get Schooled" series of four video podcasts debuted in April 2007. Eight others were developed later in the year, for a total of 12 in 2007.

The podcasts covered a range of subjects, from Carrier Ethernet 101 to IPTV Market Drivers and What's Driving 3G Evolution. The target audience consisted of senior-level engineers, the Tellabs sales force, sales consultants and Tellabs partners, as well as tech bloggers and the industry media.

Each video podcast lasts approximately eight minutes and ends with a URL for downloading a "cheat sheet" on inspirethenewlife.com—and provides additional URLs for further reference.

The total cost of producing the 12 podcasts was $30,000. Typically, a podcast costs about $3,000 each to produce, mostly for complex animations that are outsourced. Otherwise, all work is done in-house by the Tellabs External Marketing team, which creates the podcasts, identifying potential topics and experts, then coming up with 4-5 questions for the interview. However, responses by the subject-matter expert are not scripted, and there are no rehearsals, since the intent is produce an informal conversation. The podcasts feature Tellabs employees, and the only "actor" hired is the one who introduces the segments.

To publicize the program, Tellabs relied initially on word-of-mouth among small-to-midsize enterprises (SMEs). Tellabs forwarded stats about various SMEs' video downloads, challenging other SMEs to top those download numbers.

"We started with the SMEs and provided them with the number of downloads each month and soon we saw an increase in the number of videos forwarded overall," said O'Malley.

Thereafter, the videos were highlighted in HTML-based emails to the customer base and sales force. A typical Tellabs customer email drop goes out to some 25,000 recipients globally and has a click-through rate (CTR) of 3.2% and an open rate of 28%. In the first week to 10 days after a video podcast was highlighted in a mailing, O'Malley said, traffic to the videos would spike, as would the number of videos "forwarded to a friend."

Each of the 12 episodes was also described in brief on the Tellabs homepage, with direct links to the podcasts on the associated Web site, Inspire the New Life, which in turn featured brief yet engaging copy to highlight the podcasts.

(Inspire The New Life is itself a vibrant site that features ways for users to further participate in a community, including suggesting new topics, submitting user-created videos, and playing The Inspired or Tired New Life game.)

Moreover, to drive search-engine traffic to the videos, Tellabs ran a Google AdWords campaign for six months using keywords such as IPTV, HSDPA, Pseudowire, Wavelength PON, GSM, LTE, CDMA, DWDM, 3G, Get Schooled.

Tellabs posted the video podcasts on iTunes, Google Video, YouTube, and Blip.TV, using many of those keywords to attract traffic.

Tellabs used the Get Schooled program in its customer-training classes and its new-hire orientation.

To further brand the "Get Schooled" initiative, Tellabs created a merchandising program as a thank-you to SMEs, offering personalized metal Get Schooled Lunchboxes, a Get Schooled T-shirt, and Get Schooled Flash drive.

The Results:

Initially, Tellabs hoped the video podcast series would at least generate 50,000 views. The campaign generated 68,500 views in the first 12 months.

The paid-search campaign has thus far delivered 47 million impressions and some 12,200 click-throughs.

The most-viewed podcast was titled "IPTV Market Drivers: The Evolution of Video," which generated 7,582 views.

The videos that generated the most views, not surprisingly, covered the hottest industry topics and those closely associated with Tellabs' market position.

O'Malley said Tellabs viewed the videos with lower view rate as equally critical, as their topics represented features on leading-edge technologies that many in the industry may not yet be familiar with. "This gives Tellabs an early opportunity to impress our thoughts on that targeted audience," he noted.

With the production of more and more podcasts, O'Malley said, the company has streamlined production to save budget and resources: "Typical production cycle now includes a one-hour video shoot, audio file is sent out for transcription, selects are made from the raw footage and a storyboard is assembled with graphics." Tellabs relies on internal subject market experts for con


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