Marketing Challenge: Achieving Sharp Competitive Differentiation

The Case of the Company That “Found Its Focus”

At the point of Sierra Imaging’s market entry, the digital still camera market was exploding. Sierra was one of many hardware and software suppliers competing for the attention of major camera and electronics OEMs’ in-house design teams. The supplier side was largely undifferentiated. No single company was offering everything necessary to design and build digital cameras.

Sierra selected a public relations agency and Sierra’s management team immediately went to work with the agency on identifying a market niche and strategies for effective competitive differentiation. Sierra’s aggressive R&D program yielded strong hardware and software products letting OEMs choose the amount of technology they needed to get to market fast. Big-name camera marketers could “have it their way” with Sierra, selecting from an array of component offerings up to and including complete camera systems. Alternatively, OEMs could deal with a variety of other companies to create a complete solution. Studying the market, Sierra recognized that it was the world’s only “one stop shop” where companies like Agfa, Epson or Kodak could fine everything they needed to get to market with their next-generation digital cameras faster. The objective was clear. Position Sierra Imaging as the supplier of choice for complete digital camera technology solutions, from start to finish. With their agency’s help, Sierra Imaging crafted a positioning statement and key messages that firmly guided all company and product marketing efforts. New products were well introduced and promoted. Research analysts and key technology editors received timely information and opportunities to test Sierras’ new products. Sierra’s story was consistently and convincingly told and retold. Soon the market was playing-back Sierra’s messages.




Less than a year after initiating their public relations campaign, Sierra Imaging emerged as the recognized market expert in digital camera design and supporting application software. Their positioning claim was supported by great products as well as consistent digital camera coverage in leading consumer technology publications and even mainstream newspapers. Better still, the company was rewarded with large product orders. The media and market researchers identified Sierra as “the only company offering OEMs all the components for digital still camera success.” Sierra’s clear positioning focus as experts in the consumer digital camera market paid off in growth and market share dominance over larger but unfocused competitors.

Subsequently the agency developed a campaign for Sierra’s digital camera application software used to manage camera images in the PC. PR strategies focused on thought leadership and key influencer engagements. Soon most of the leading consumer electronics and digital photo gurus were writing positively about Sierra’s product. Eight months later 18 solidly positive product reviews were driving product downloads and revenue beyond Sierra management’s expectations. The company’s consumer electronics business was well-launched and its reputation established.

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Ford Kanzler - Marketing/PR Savvy