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Case Study: IMC and Zombie Apocalypse Supporting the Sales Process

    Case Study: IMC and Zombie Apocalypse Supporting the Sales Process

    In 2013, it was the height of America’s fixation with zombies. The hit TV show The Walking Dead was a popular obsession, and the highly anticipated summer blockbuster was the zombie-filled action-horror film World War Z. At the time, Christine Nurnberger was a new-to-the-job vice president of marketing. She had been challenged by her boss to breathe excitement into the ho-hum reputation of SunGard Availability Services (SunGard AS), a B2B company that helps organizations improve their IT infrastructure to avoid service outages and plan for disaster recovery.

    Tapping into the zeitgeist, Nurnberger hit on an almost crazy idea for an integrated marketing campaign: “What better way to convey our message around the importance of having a resilient business infrastructure than to test it by seeing if you could survive a zombie apocalypse.”[1]

    Almost crazy, but not quite. Nurnberger set her team to designing a pilot to test the concept with a small number of corporate chief information officers who were in later stages of the buying process. This first phase of the IMC campaign used direct mail. Marketers sent a flash drive to the CIOs, informing them of the imminent zombie apocalypse and telling them to stay tuned for a backpack of survival materials, which arrived a few days later. Sales representatives followed up with sales calls, and they were elated to find their CIO sales leads enthusiastic about the creative zombie campaign and open to talking business, as well. The campaign gave sales reps the perfect opportunity to discuss the company’s offerings and innovation and address concerns about the perception of SunGard AS as a stodgy “dinosaur” in the IT world.

    The first wave went so well that the marketing team expanded the campaign to additional audiences in ways that impacted multiple stages of the sales funnel:

    • All stages: A version of the campaign targeting industry analysts and influencers with a message about the company’s recent updates and innovation. This effort resulted in positive social media posts from analysts about SunGard AS and the campaign. This helped bolster the SunGard AS brand and generate further interest at each stage of the sales process.
    • Stage 1: A social media campaign and zombie-apocalypse backpack giveaway were initiated to build awareness and generate new leads.
    • Stages 1 and 2: A targeted campaign to generate, qualify, and educate new leads among IT decision makers was developed using email, direct mail, and Web-site content.
    • Stages 2 and 3: A second targeted campaign focused on recontacting promising sales leads who had stalled during the sales process to restart conversations with SunGard AS. Coordinated IMC elements in this campaign included email, direct mail, personal selling, Web-site content, and social media.

    In the following video, Christine Nurnberger explains the approach behind the IMC campaign (including the zombie apocalypse backpack), how her team executed different phases, and the results of the campaign.

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