ComputerWorld: Show and Tell

Show and tell: New ways of sharing your company’s story and products
IT can help sales and marketing groups explore and use new 3D tools

By Esther Shein May 5, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Products that speak for themselves
Imagine being the sales rep who has to try to sell something like copper or fiber connectivity. That’s the challenge Legrand North America faced. The manufacturer of commercial office and data center infrastructure products realized it needed a better way to tell its story, using 3D modeling, says Tony Walker, director of marketing for Legrand’s Data Communications Division in New London, Conn. “None of my salespeople I’ve come across have a trunk that can handle a 7-foot rack or a 400- pound cabinet.”

Last November, Legrand began working with Kaon Interactive in Maynard, Mass., to
build 3D models of 12 of its products. Now, equipped with an iPad or laptop, Walker’s
sales team can “very easily pull up a 3D model of my equipment and rotate it 360
degrees and zoom in and out. It’s very easy for our reps to do that with a customer.”
Previously, customers had to either visit a Legrand briefing center, or the company
had to create and ship sample models and have reps travel to the customer site,
which Walker says became “very, very expensive. Using Kaon, we can bring a
product to more people in a more efficient way,” he adds.

Walker says he originally envisioned a Flash-based animation product and wasn’t
looking for full-blown 3D modeling software. When Kaon officials showed him what
they could do and that the software wasn’t limited to just a Web site, Walker was
sold. Now more than 200 sales reps worldwide with company-issued iPads are using
the software, which is translatable to other languages.

“It has certainly reinvigorated my salesforce, and they now feel comfortable talking
about the big solutions because they now have an innovative and exciting way to
show it,” Walker says. He adds that it’s too early to say whether the software has
resulted in any new business, “but we have gotten feedback from the salesforce in
the field, and they’ve said, ‘We’ve knocked their socks off with 3D.’ ”

Walker won’t specify what the Kaon software cost to build, only that it’s in the “sixfigure
range” and also includes a v-OSK touch-screen appliance Legrand bought from
Kaon to use at trade shows. The software is managed by Legrand’s marketing
department, so IT plays no role in supporting it. Walker says that “when using the v-
OSK or a laptop, there is no impact” on network bandwidth, although the software
works better when it is streamed on a wireless network.

The software has, however, affected how the company spends its marketing budget.
“I have definitely reallocated marketing dollars for this type of solution over our old
ways of doing business. We don’t have to print data brochures and collateral, so
there’s a bit of a green element and a tremendous cost savings,” Walker says.
Printing costs have been reduced approximately $10,000 per piece of collateral,
which Walker says will help the company save approximately $100,000. If customers
are interested in receiving follow-up materials, they are transmitted electronically, he
adds.

About kaonmarketingguru

Dana Drissel is a well-rounded, highly energetic, results driven professional with 15+ years of advertising agency and corporate marketing experience at both large public companies and small business start-ups.
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