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80′s Tech Company Stay Successful with PR and Marketing

With all the ups and downs of the economy, I’ve tracked down a technology company that has remained successful since 1983. To find out the success secrets of Apricorn, www.apricorn.com, I spoke to Michelle Fischer, Apricorn’s Marketing Manager. Here’s what Michelle had to say:

Tell us about your business.

Michelle Fischer

Headquartered in Southern California, Apricorn was founded 27 years ago by entrepreneurs Mike Gordon and Paul Brown. Initially focusing on interface products for Apple, Apricorn quickly moved into the memory market, becoming this first company to provide 3rd party memory modules for the emerging portable computer market.

This began their foray into mobile storage solutions for notebook computers, designing award-winning products in external storage, notebook hard drive upgrades, cloning software and secure portable storage. In addition to our branded product lines, Apricorn has been an OEM supplier to a number of leading computer manufacturers in the US and abroad including Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba and Fujitsu.

Why do you think Apricorn has been successful since 1983 in the ever-changing world of technology?

Our ability to adapt to current technology trends by finding niche markets and fulfilling specific storage needs has kept us in the game. In comparison to others companies in our space, we are relatively small, however we see this as an advantage. Our size has meant that we are nimble enough to take advantage of niche markets, developing products quickly and incorporating several functions within a specific product.

But don’t be deceived by our small size, chances are you have used one of our products. As an OEM we have designed and produced products for some of the largest computer companies in the U.S. We started by designing a family of interface products for Apple and became the world’s first provider of third-party memory modules for portable computers. We survived through the tech wreck of the 2000s and diversified our offerings to include Notebook Hard Drive Upgrade Kits, external portable hard drives and optical drives.

As computers held more and more data and users became more mobile, adopting notebooks as their primary computer, we kept pace with them with unique products not widely available at the time. Now, with the latest news focusing on data breaches and protection against identity theft and cyber crime, we have expanded our offering to include a family of portable hardware encrypted drives that offer powerful protection.

We are always on the lookout for new needs in the storage market. We ask ourselves, “How can we make storage even more useful and give it better features?” We don’t wish to simply resell hard drives; we want to make them better. Whether enabling people to upgrade the storage in their notebook, add capacity to their DVRs, or secure their data with our family of encrypted external hard drives, we make storage more useful and easy to use.

What kind of marketing and PR have you done to increase sales and why?

We don’t have a large advertising budget so we have had to be creative in how we get the word out about our products. All of our products are sold online, both through our website and our channel partners, so product reviews, both from customers and product reviewers alike, are very important to us.

To increase our online visibility we use newswire services for our press releases and latest product launches and are always eager to send product for review. Our marketing message is targeted, using such tools as YouTube, tech blogs, Google Ad Words and other SEO tools to get us in front of customers when they are researching a future purchase.

We also offer aggressive, monthly specials to our growing customer base via an eBlast campaign. But it isn’t the only marketing that gets us out there. Customer service is an important part of our model. We don’t farm out our technical or sales support to an outside agency; rather, we take care of this internally. Our tech support staff deals only with our products, and in many cases, have a hand in their design. To this end, we get many, positive customer-reviews not only through our website, but also with resellers.

Our focus is not only on the consumer market. Our line of encrypted portable hard drives is focused primarily on the corporate user. For getting our products visibility we have used several techniques including lead-generation programs and whitepaper distribution, but our most successful strategy has been our free corporate evaluation program.

What marketing efforts have worked the best and why?

For our Apricorn branded products, our Corporate Evaluation program on our secure, hard-drive-line has probably been our most successful marketing effort, along with our positive product reviews brought about by our PR efforts. Using a targeted, eBlast campaign, we have had success with our free evaluations. IT managers are able to put our Aegis Padlock drive through its paces, evaluating both its security and ease of implementation into their current IT infrastructure.

We are also able to customize our products to fit into a company’s needs, which is a big selling feature. Many large companies, government agencies and hospitals have standardized on our products because of this feature.

What type of marketing and PR tactics do you plan to use in the future and why?

With more and more stories on data breaches and identity theft, we have a strong feeling that affordable security products will become more important not only to corporations, but also to individuals. Our goal is to become the mobile security go-to guy, which is quite a tall order.

The only real way to get in front of people is to give them useful information when making a security-based-decision. Who they go with will depend on many factors, but independent product reviews, expert advice with custom solutions, free corporate evaluations and synergistic alliances will all help in the decision-making process.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting new businesses today?

Always try to build a better mousetrap and add value. My experience starting at the firm really encapsulates this idea. On my first day, before even setting up my desk, I was handed a laptop, hard drive and our EZ Upgrade Notebook Hard Drive Upgrade kit. My first assignment: to upgrade a notebook hard drive. Having worked on a desktop system in the past, I had never owned a laptop in my life. Now I was supposed to upgrade one? “Just call the 1-800 number in the manual if you have any questions,” my boss said as I moved to the conference room to do the upgrade.

Much to my surprise, in half an hour I had upgraded the notebook. I was then asked about my experiences with the upgrade, and my comments were used to make the experience even easier.

This philosophy has been used in the conception and design of all our products, which is probably why we have been around for such a long time.

Thanks for your great insights and information Michelle! For more information about Apricorn, visit http://www.apricorn.com.

And if you need help bringing in more sales with SEO copywriting and PR strategies, please let me know here or at www.rembrandtwrites.com. Thanks!

About the Author: Melanie Rembrandt

Since our initial launch date, Melanie Rembrandt has been an integral part of the StartupNation team. As the founder of Rembrandt Communications®, LLC, www.rembrandtwrites.com, Melanie is one of the country's top, public-relations consultants, an SEO content strategist and a published [...]