Kiwi software company Particle Systems has taken an audacious approach to penetrating new export markets.

Particle Systems (www.previewstreamtime.com) have a software product called Streamtime which helps creative firms like advertising agencies and graphic design companies manage key functions like time recording, production planning, quoting and billing.

Director Phillip Sunderland says the company started exporting Streamtime in 2005, after three years of consistent sales in the New Zealand market. Australia was the first target.

Particle decided to invest heavily in advertising for the launch, mainly in several key creative industry publications. “We started immediately with full page advertisements to convey an impression of a large, credible, focussed company, and backed it up with seminars, direct mail and an online strategy.”

“Basically we tried lots of stuff - threw it out there and measured it. We quickly established what worked. Advertising proved the key - if no one knows about your product no one can buy it.”

“Technology companies often don’t invest enough in telling people their story. They spend enormous amounts on creating the product but then won‘t spend on telling people about it. And then they wonder why it is not selling,” says Phillip.

The company still spends around 25% of its Australian turnover on promotion in that market, focussed on industry advertising, events and also selected sponsorships. Particle also work with Apple resellers in a market segment dominated by Apple hardware and software.

Aggressive advertising was again a key in the UK with the company spending $40,000NZD in UK magazines before they even set foot in London. “From our Australian experience we knew this would work and it did – delivering 180 qualified leads for our team to pursue from the time they arrived.”

Sunderland said the company has resisted the temptation to go into other time-based verticals, like accounting or law. “To do it effectively, we’d need to understand their world, employ an accountant or lawyers and so on. The design world is very similar worldwide so it is a faster growth strategy to expand geographically first and look at other verticals later.”

Focussing on the design vertical has meant Particle can tailor its product, support, promotion and sales activity to that market, says Phillip. And because Particle know this market intimately, and know the communication channels they use, their promotional dollars are more effective at reaching potential customers.

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