Struggling with how to illustrate the customizability of its half-ton, 7-foot-tall server cabinets, Legrand switches to 3-D product-demonstration technology, decreasing its shipping costs and increasing sales leads in the process. By Lena Valenty
Conventional wisdom – and most exhibit managers – will tell you that product demonstrations are an invaluable tactic when it comes to educating attendees about your gadgets and gizmos. But what if your product is about the size of an elephant and cost-prohibitive to ship to a show? Or your product line is so extensive that jamming every item into the booth would render it cluttered and useless?
Indeed, sometimes it’s practically impossible to conduct an in-booth demonstration that does a product justice. Just ask the New London, CT-based data communications division of Legrand, which makes cabling systems, server racks, and cabinets used in data centers and local-area applications. Weighing in at roughly half a ton when fully loaded, the firm’s largest cabinet, called the Mighty Mo, is a bear to ship to shows, let alone move around once it’s in an exhibit. And that’s a problem for booth staffers and sales representatives, as the only way to truly demonstrate the extensive configurability of the Mighty Mo is to basically tip it on its side, turn it around, and move varying pieces of network-infrastructure equipment (such as cables, cooling fans, power supplies, shelves, side panels, etc.) in and out of it. That means unless the Incredible Hulk pops by for a visit, attendees can only see a server rack in one position (upright) and configuration – not the best way to extol a product’s endless customization.
In the past, the company’s 150 sales reps relied on suitcases filled with catalogs, scale models, and mini racks to demonstrate the products’ capabilities. Each salesperson had seven separate suitcases, one for each of the company’s seven distinct product lines. And while customers and prospects got a general idea of the products’ appearance, the approach failed to provide a customizable demo that could incorporate everything a client wanted and needed to see on the spot. Furthermore, while its sales team was lugging suitcases full of various models, literature, and miniatures to meetings and trade shows across the country and globe, inevitably, a customer would want to see something the rep didn’t have on hand. And the suitcases full of models didn’t come cheap, costing Legrand thousands of dollars to assemble and update. That’s a hefty price for something that doesn’t always deliver.
Realizing that the suitcases were doing very little to truly demonstrate the configurability of Legrand’s server racks, the company set its sights on a 3-D product-demonstration suite that not only would include all of its products and features, but also would be available across multiple platforms, from tablets and iPhones to PCs and touchscreen monitors. Legrand hoped such flexibility would make it the perfect sales tool regardless of the environment.
For that, Legrand turned to Kaon Interactive Inc., a Maynard, MA-based company that specializes in interactive 3-D product marketing and sales applications. In short, Kaon transforms physical objects and experiences into virtual ones using its proprietary hardware and software.
“Legrand came to us with three directives: Eliminate the unnecessary shipping of large products to trade shows, provide a cohesive environment to articulate its key messages consistently across all venues and locations, and create an engaging experience through interactive applications at trade shows,” says Gavin Finn, Ph.D., president and CEO of Kaon. Easy enough, right? Not quite. In addition to those objectives, Legrand wanted to be able to reuse the content on multiple devices for sales and channel partners outside the trade show environment and be able to evolve the content over time, meaning whatever Kaon came up with had to seamlessly accommodate an evergrowing product portfolio. With that hefty to-do list in hand, Finn and his team got to work.
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