We generated buzz for this 3D printing software company leading up to, during, and after a well-known industry trade show.
Materialise, (NASDAQ:MTLS) is a leading developer of software for the 3D printing industry with its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium and U.S. headquarters based in Plymouth, Michigan. Materialise has an established brand in Europe. The company, however, did not have an ongoing relationship with a communications agency in the U.S. nor had it recently utilized the services of one in support of its U.S. operations. Swyft was hired on a project basis to support the Belgian company by crafting and managing its announcements around RAPID, the largest additive manufacturing conference in North America.
The Belgian software company wanted to raise its profile on the American market with a series of corporate announcements at the 2016 edition of RAPID. Competition for share of voice is fierce at industry trade shows like RAPID.
Another complicating factor emerged, which was that RAPID would be the event at which HP announced its first foray into 3D printing for manufacturers; this meant that HP would likely dominate the event’s media coverage for at least the first 24 – 48 hours. One of Materialise’s announcements specifically addressed its work on a critical part of the 3D software running the new HP 3D printer. We quickly realized, however, that it would be more difficult to capture media buzz in the wake of what many in the industry felt would be a significant leap forward in 3D printing.
Materialise also wanted to establish its CEO and founder, Fried Vancraen, as a leader in the advancement of 3D medical printing solutions and its widespread adoption by healthcare providers in the U.S.
Our final challenge was that Materialise wanted us to establish KPIs to measure its performance and assign value to the investment it planned to make. We agreed to be measured by the number of media placements as well as the overall reach in terms of unique site visits the placements potentially generated.
Faced with the challenge of going against HP for media space, we had to be strategic in how we wanted to release announcements to the press. Additionally, we had to ensure that all spokespeople at the company were prepared for any potential media interviews.
Therefore, we developed a comprehensive media plan to ensure all communications went out at the right time and could easily be understood, coordinated media on Materialise’s behalf, and worked with their internal marketing company to maximize the news value of each announcement. We also developed a call-to-action for Mr. Vancraen to the rest of the 3D medical printing industry to commit resources and resolve toward improving clinical trial efforts. This was done in order to draw interest to the panel discussion he was hosting at RAPID.
Due to the competitive share of voice, we had to accurately time each release. Our first recommendation was to push the announcement of Materialise Magics 3D Print Suite, the newly bundled suite of pre-existing apps, into the week before the start of RAPID. Our rationale? Since HP was announcing the launch of its first-ever 3D printer for the additive manufacturing market, the media would in all likelihood pay scant attention to announcements that were not in some way or another a breakthrough in their own right. We also felt we stood a better chance of standing out the week before the trade show.
Our concurrent announcement was the call-to-action we developed for Materialise’s CEO. This served as a call to the rest of the 3D medical printing industry to commit resources and resolve toward improving clinical trial efforts. The adoption of 3D medical printing has been slow and typically limited to advanced research hospitals in part because there is a lack of reliable, predictive clinical data surrounding 3D printing technology, which is in itself partly due to the highly fragmented nature of the market. Our goal was to make Mr. Vancraen’s announcement visible in advance of RAPID to draw interest in a panel he planned to host on the topic.
The third announcement planned was to announce Materialise’s participation in the development of a key software component for its brand new Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer. HP placed an embargo on the announcement and required its partners to adhere to strict branding and announcement protocol.
Supporting Materialise during the RAPID conference turned out to be a big success across the board. Our public relation efforts (in a three week span) generated 19 articles across a variety of top tier publications such as Engineering.com, 3D Printing Industry, Fabbaloo, Develop 3D and Fierce Medical Devices. The reach of our online placements amounted to nearly 4 million unique visitors.
Lastly, our call-to-action idea for Mr. Vancraen on the need for greater accountability of clinical trails turned a lot of wheels and kept the buzz going in trade outlets and online discussions among media and influencers alike.
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