Thursday, 10 June 2010 5:22PM
by, Matt Roush
Orion Township-based Scate Technologies Inc. plans to introduce new automated marketing technology next week called BuzTweet.
Its ambitions are anything but modest — to become a serious competitor to Google AdWords.
Like most of Scate’s products, BuzTweet started out as a service that Scate had provided to a couple of customers.
Essentially, BuzTweet provides a simple, automatic way to send out regular tweets on the Twitter social media Web site touting a company’s products and services, events, or anything else a user might have in mind.
A user enters the BuzTweet Web site, picks out which of their social media lists they’d like to send messages to, and then uploads a database of phrases that can be turned into tweets. (The tweets can also be entered manually.) The user then describes how frequently they’d like the tweets to go out, and for how long. Users can set up multiple campaigns with multiple messages to multiple lists.
The service costs 5 cents a tweet at first, with volume discounts down to a minimum price of 2 cents a tweet.
The company will set a maximum price for the service of $450 a campaign per month. Scate CEO Steve Sadler said the company’s internal research shows that in terms of clickthroughs and impressions, that $450 buys as much exposure as a $2,000-a-month Google AdWords campaign.
This is hardly the first time Scate has entered a new business. The company’s predecessor was formed a decade ago by Laurie Sadler, Steve Sadler’s wife, as a training company.
“We had a bunch of content for training CATIA and a couple of classrooms,” Sadler said. “Along comes 9-11 and people stopped coming to classrooms, so we had a choice — restructure, start a new business to get the content to people through the Web, or go out of business. We decided to hire a bunch of Flash developers and turn that content into online training.”
But within a few months, Sadler said Scate grew frustrated with the available tools to create online training courses, “so we wound up building our own tools to do things quicker.” One customer asked Sadler how he put together such cool training courses and presentations so quickly, and Sadler showed him the company’s internal content management system. “He said, “I want to buy that,'” Sadler said. “I said, ‘We don’t sell it.’ Well, very shortly a light bulb went on and we became a software development company.”
Scate Ignite — the company’s multimedia presentation development system, now in its fourth iteration and soon to be in its fifth — went on sale in late 2005, initially as a DVD. Now it’s sold online. Basically it takes screenshots, screen recordings, quizzes, tests, Web content, video and more and creates seamless presentations out of that content. Its customer base covers every continent except Antarctica and includes such corporate giants as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Coca-Cola, Chrysler and Johnson Controls.
Scate managed that despite having a sales force of only a couple of people by marketing online.
“We’ve always tried to figure out how to get more exposure,” Sadler said. “We changed our Web site five or six times with no success. We tried search engine optimization, with little success. Google AdWords comes along and we start pumping large amounts of money into Google AdWords, $5,000 or $10,000 a month. Well, it gets you a lot of clicks, but it doesn’t get you a lot of sales. And when you have a price point like ours, $50 for standard and $299 for the professional version, to make your $5,000 to $10,000 back you had to sell a lot of copies, and that wasn’t getting it.”
Then along comes social media — which Scate’s culture adapted to right away, given the mashup nature of its core product.
“We came up with a list of 150 things Scate Ignite did that related to social media, and we came up with 150 landing pages or microsites for each one,” Sadler said.
But how to get people to them? Well, when it comes to social media, Sadler said, “LinkedIn is your Rolodex on the Web. Groups are good, but we never really got a lot of business from it. Facebook is good, but definitely geared towards friends and family. Twitter is geared around everybody you don’t know, and from a business perspective, that’s who you sell to.”
Sadler called Twitter “the inverse of e-mail. E-mail is seen as spam, it’s unsolicited. When you’re dealing with Twitter, you’re sending messages out to your own account, and if somebody doesn’t want to follow you that’s their choice.”
However, keeping a Twitter account about the business is a time-consuming task.
“I have a lot to say, but I can’t spend all day tweeting — I’ve got to work,” Sadler said. “But this little program allows me to very quickly create tweets that are different, and set them up on a frequency for delivery.”
Scate uses BuzTweet’s automatic functions to combine such introductory phrases as “Scate clients are using Ignite to” or “We’re having fun” with functions of the company’s software, such as “creating videos for Facebook,” with a bit.ly shortened link to the appropriate landing page.
But Sadler, CTO Jeff Holth and vice president of sales Gary Gozdor fully expect BuzTweet’s users to put the software to work in ways they never intended. Such creativity, they said, is the true miracle of the Internet.
BuzTweet will be launching Monday at http://www.buztweet.com. To get access to a Webinar set for 2 p.m. Tuesday that will discuss the new technology, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (248) 371-0315, ext. 3.
Holth also pointed out that “everything we make here at Scate is made right here in Oakland County by people from Michigan, mostly Oakland University students — it’s unbelievable how good they are.”
Scate is also offering a free service called screentweet.com that ports pictures, video and screen captures to a Twitter feed. For an example, check out http://scr.tw/7r5GZnx
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