Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guest Post - Ringtones for the Blind -- Part 1

Today I'm delighted to have a guest post from Laura Matz who is Director of Sales and Marketing for Perkins Products at Perkins School for the Blind, a world-renowned organization located in Watertown, MA. Laura contacted me last summer in the early stages of this marketing program. I've followed the development of the program with interest, and am pleased that Laura has provided us with a detailed narrative of the issues she faced. Today is the introduction; watch for the steps to a successful conclusion tomorrow.

I work for Perkins School for the Blind, responsible for international marketing and sales for a small division within Perkins which sells the Perkins Brailler® – a low-tech device used all over the world which looks like a typewriter and creates printed Braille. After 57 years, we have just launched the Next Generation™ Perkins Brailler® - a ‘reimagination’ of the classic Perkins Brailler, incorporating a sleek design, contemporary colors, and cool, new features which users have asked for.

Since one of the target audiences is young people who are blind and visually impaired – ages 8 – 15 and older – we decided to create an audio campaign, for obvious reasons. We contracted with a brilliant musician, Raul Midon, to write an original song for us. Raul, aside from being an internationally known, gifted guitarist and singer, is also blind and uses Braille.

One of the goals of the campaign is to enable a young person in a mainstream school who is blind or visually impaired to be able to show the new Brailler to his or her sighted classmates, and feel proud that it is a cool device; not something that looks old-fashioned or obsolete. In addition, we wanted kids to be able to share the song with their friends, blind or sighted, using the modern, new media with which kids communicate these days.

Therefore, we decided to turn the song into ringtones and post them on the website for download. I began to look for a company that would guide me through the technology hurdles and allow me to:
a) Offer the downloads for free
b) ‘Private label’ the downloads, meaning that I didn’t want to go through another website in order to download
c) Ensure that there was no advertising associated with the download, which could compromise the ‘integrity’ of a non-profit organization such as ours.

The example which I wanted to emulate was Barack Obama’s website which makes the downloads available for free, makes the process simple and does not appear to go through a third-party. Also Bounce at Procter and Gamble makes it free and easy to download their jingle.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!

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