With Sony’s recent emergence in the photo specialty category with their range of Alpha, Cyber-shot and Handycam products, Sony was faced with the challenge of keeping their brand top-of-mind with the sales associates in the store. Their answer to this challenge: Inside Edge, their retail communications program.
“We stared Inside Edge to be able to engage the photo specialty sales associates and have them understand Sony’s commitment to the channel,” said Michael Kenny, senior manager, Marketing, at Sony. “Traditionally we gave them technical information with a lot of specifications, which was a good way to learn our products on an individual basis. But as we introduced a broader array of products, we realized the information overload we were asking them to digest. We wanted to give them a fun and engaging way to learn about our products.”
Spearheaded by Source Communications, Sony’s support agency for the photo specialty channel, Inside Edge magazine was born.
“It’s a magazine that’s both informative and entertaining, highlighting the inspiration that goes into photography and exploring the stories behind the products,” said Mitch Wexler, management supervisor at Source. “It’s a way for us to talk to them without being highly technical.”
Now in its third year, Inside Edge recently expanded to the web (sony.com/ie) with more interactive content, more photography and a way to broaden the experience of the magazine.
“We thought that by expanding to the web, we could use rich media, video content and the versatility of the web to really bring home our message,” explained Kenny. “We also wanted Sony to separate from the pack, and we’re using the web to demonstrate some of our unique features, like sweep panorama.”
The combination of Inside Edge, both online and in print, is Sony’s ambitious way to help photo specialty salespeople not only understand the products but appreciate the passion that goes into Sony products all the way back to Japan.
“This platform shows Sony digital imaging in a whole new light; it gives our readers insights into why we made the products—the inspiration of the engineers on why we put certain features in, and the key technologies we’ve developed,” said Kenny. “It also allows the readers to understand our broader marketing program, like our Artisans of Imagery program with Sony dedicated pro photographers.”
Most important, with the use of the web, information is continually updated, enabling those behind the counter to be on top of the latest Sony information. “While our printed piece is updated quarterly, we’re able to continue to publish new information on the web,” said Barry Bluestein, managing partner, Source. “We also wanted it to be more interactive, so we’ve included places on the web to help build a community. Readers can get a glimpse into our Sony Alpha Club on Flickr, where they can post great images taken with Sony products. We also encourage the sales professionals to post their own images.”
The Inside Edge retail communications program is just one more way that Sony is breaking through, and trying to stay top-of-mind in the retail community. Besides their print and web presence, there is also a mobile app in the works for both Apple and Android platforms.
“We know it’s tough out there on the front lines,” said Kenny, “so we’re trying our best to provide solid information in an entertaining, informative way. The more the retail community knows and understands about Sony products and our commitment to this category, the more successful we both will be. sony.com/ie