Online videos are all the rage these days, whether it's for fun on You Tube or for direct marketing e-mail campaigns.
But when a company wants a direct marketing video campaign, they usually find it's an expensive exercise to hire someone with the right skills to help them execute the campaign.
But a start-up company in Hopkinton called FLIMP Media Inc. says it is changing all that. It has created a software product that lets someone with no programming or technological skills create a direct marketing video by dragging and dropping existing elements to make a custom direct marketing piece. The software also provides for detailed tracking.
FLIMP stands for Flash Interactive Marketing Platform and the company's patent is pending.
Tech Of The Future
"The whole direct marketing market is very big, it's $170 billion a year," said Wayne Wall, a co-founder and the company's CEO. "We can let customers track useful data that can be turned over to sales people so there are no more cold leads."
Cold leads are just what they seem: Calls to people who have not expressed any previous interest in what is being sold.
"It means it's no longer a crapshoot. Sometimes there is a big direct marketing spend and they keep their fingers crossed that people are going to spend money as a result of the campaign," Wall said. "The best part is the granular level of detail we provide and customers can watch in real-time and have the ability to test their message and respond to the way people are reacting to it."
The service lets users create custom-branded flash video sites that can be distributed through e-mails, on web site landing pages, through web links and on blogs. At the same time it provides analytical tools so users can see who watches the video to completion, whether they went directly from viewing the video to purchasing tickets or products and to whom they e-mailed the video.
"You can export data into an Excel spreadsheet or into customer relationship management software or to Salesforce. You will have measurable, tangible data and be able to say we're being productive with our marketing dollars," Wall said.
It can take as little as 10 minutes to learn how to use the platform, according to Jerry Keefe, the company's new vice president of operations. "You literally start with a blank canvas and you drag and drop different elements such as buttons, text, photos and video," he said.
Mark Holliston, director of Homebaseabroad.com, renter of luxury villas in Italy, said his company finds FLIMP's software a great way to give potential customers information. "It's allowed us to become more electronic and send a nice, tight package with video, additional photos, property descriptions and action items," Holliston said.
FLIMP also allows him to immediately send people information about the properties while they are in the mood, an important ability in a world where people want things very quickly, he said. He can also tell if they sent it on to others they may want to travel with or friends and family.
Holliston also said that the excellent customer service that FLIMP Media provides is another reason to like the product. Wall said Jennifer O'Meara, who heads FLIMP's client services, has wowed many of their customers, both big and small, with the level of attention they receive.
The company started in 2003, when Wall tried to come up with a template for direct marketing videos in e-mails, but it was too inflexible with the elements having to be in the same places. "Customers want flexibility and customization. If you have two customers, say Coke and Pepsi, they're not going to want their campaigns to look alike," Wall said.
Richard DiBona, FLIMP's chief technology officer and co-founder, developed the software-as-a-service digital canvas that allows users to drag and drop the different elements. DiBona previously ran TJX 's web sites and its corporate portal. DiBona said he has enjoyed the excitement of working at a start-up, particularly when video wasn't quite the popular item it has since become.
"We were ahead of the curve then, and I think we're still ahead of the curve," DiBona said.
The popularity of their software platform is expected to fuel the company's revenue growth from several hundred thousand this year to more than a $1 million in 2009, according to Wall and DiBona.
They don't have any venture capital money, although they have some angel investment along with their own money.
They've already taken more space at their 2 Hayden Row offices in what was once a large, brick residence to make room for the sales people they will be hiring soon. But those hires will come after Keefe creates the operating processes the company needs to grow in an orderly, efficient way, Wall said.