Friday, November 2, 2007

Merrow Innovation Makes Local News!


On Nov. 1 2007 Merrow made local headlines:

According to the Patriot Ledger, Merrow is leveraging an innovative marketing campaign based on microsites.

Here is a snipit of the article:


BUSINESS

ONLINE MARKETING - AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Company using microsites to sell sewing machines


Brothers Charlie, left, and Owen Merrow of Merrow Sewing Machine Co. look over the latest Web video for customers. (GREG DERR/The Patriot Ledger)

By A.J. BAUER
The Patriot Ledger

WAREHAM - Merrow Sewing Machine Co.’s customers range from lingerie designers to fishing net manufacturers and hail from 85 countries.

Founded in 1838, the longtime Connecticut company moved to Wareham in 2004 when it was purchased by Charlie and Owen Merrow, descendents of the company’s founder. Since then Charlie Merrow, the company’s CEO, has focused on developing new ways to sell its sewing machines, which are capable of producing more than 6,000 different stitches.

Marketing to such a diverse constituency calls for a strategy just as nuanced as the myriad industries to which the company sells. Merrow believes he has found just such a strategy in what are known as microsites.

A microsite is a Web site, with a separate URL address than a corporation’s main Web site, that is geared toward marketing a particular product or service. They are generally simple to navigate and some try to be entertaining.

‘‘What microsites allow us to do is communicate very specific solutions to very specific customers within the industry,’’ Merrow said.

Merrow launched its first microsite in June and now has six unique English sites, four of which also have been translated into Spanish. Their content features close-up photos of stitches, videos, blogs, podcasts and, of course, basic information on how to buy the machine that makes the featured stitch.

While microsites have grown in popularity since their inception in the late 1990s, experts say companies engaged in business-to-business marketing have been generally slow to embrace it.

‘‘They forget they’re still marketing to people who still like to be entertained,’’ Bill Hanekamp, CEO of Chicago ad agency The Well, said of the typical business-to-business marketing strategy. ‘‘Even though a person may wear a suit, that doesn’t mean they don’t like to laugh or drink a beer, so treat them as such.’’

Hanekamp is a fervent advocate of microsites, so much that he blogs about them on his Web site Microsite.com. While he said he was unfamiliar with Merrow’s sites, he called its use of microsites ‘‘an exception’’ in the business-to-business marketing industry and said he expects more companies to follow suit.

‘‘The trends are clear, people are moving online and online presence is more important than ever before,’’ Hanekamp said.

William Rice, president of the Hartford, Conn., Web Marketing Association, which annually hosts a competition recognizing the Internet’s most effective Web sites, said he had not heard of Merrow. But Rice said the marketing tool is a natural fit for multi-niche manufacturers like Merrow.

‘‘When a salesman goes to see any prospective customer, the first thing the customer does is go online,’’ Rice said. ‘‘By giving them a Web site that fills all their needs, you can get them targeted and through the sales cycle that much quicker.’’

Merrow said the microsite strategy has already begun to deliver - as much as doubling sales for some of the machines featured on the sites. Encouraged, the company has set up a department devoted to creating new sites.

‘‘It lets us be nimble,’’ Merrow said. ‘‘We can get a phone call from a customer, have a sales meeting and within three days have a microsite that speaks to that application.’’
Robyn Merrow

Merrow has manufactured sewing machines since 1838 and remains one of the most interesting companies in the textile space

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