In its first nationwide consumer marketing campaign,
SoftNet Systems Inc. is offering discounted cable-modem installation and one month's
free access to its high-speed Internet service, ISP Channel.
"We wanted to leave consumers with no reason to say
no," SoftNet senior vice president of marketing Kevin Gavin said, adding that the
upfront cost often concerns potential subscribers.
The new "Run with the Fast Crowd" campaign uses
testimonials from everyday people to give the impression that cable modems are becoming
The "Fast Crowd" theme has a dual message: It
plays on the high-speed aspect of the service, and it's also meant to assure
consumers that the service holds appeal to people besides computer geeks and other early
For the TV spots, SoftNet took video testimonials from all
sorts of customers, including kids and older subscribers. Some of the extra footage may be
used later for a longer-running infomercial, Gavin said.
SoftNet has created a host of marketing materials that
affiliates across the country can use to promote the 50 percent-off-installation promotion
and the first-month-free offer. Operator feedback went into creating the five
cross-channel TV commercials, as well as the backup material, including direct-mail
pieces, bill inserts, radio spots, posters and counter cards for cable office lobbies.
The ads are co-branded with the affiliate's name and
customized around the specific operator's offers. Monthly subscriptions vary from
$29.99 to $39.99 among ISP Channel affiliates, which typically charge $10 extra each month
in modem rental and an additional $10 for nonvideo customers.
A total of 27 markets across the country are participating
in the promotion. The first affiliates launched their campaigns late last month, with
others following suit through the end of May.
SoftNet offered flexibility not only for the convenience of
its affiliates, Gavin said, but also because the staggered start dates helped to keep the
company's call centers from being overwhelmed all at once.
The company has built a two-week extension into the
promotion in case there's enough demand to warrant it.
"We expect all of the markets to expand the
campaign," Gavin said.
SoftNet will spend more than $500,000 on the campaign.
Affiliates are responsible for the cost of direct-mail postage and for committing airtime
for the cross-channel spots.
ISP Channel has signed more than 3,000 customers since its
first substantial service launches in mid-1998.
The campaign could help ISP Channel affiliates to achieve
up to triple their average sales volume, Gavin estimated, although as a public company,
SoftNet does not make official projections.