MARKETING TECHNIQUE: IT; Programme fillers

Many marketers have been slow to harness IT to their business activities. But the lack of special marketing applications hasn’t helped. Mike Hewitt looks at some newly developed software

Many marketers have been slow to harness IT to their business

activities. But the lack of special marketing applications hasn’t

helped. Mike Hewitt looks at some newly developed software



When we’re under daily bombardment with news about the infobahn,

multimedia and neural networks, it’s easy to assume that everyone else

is stepping boldly down the IT path and your company is being left

behind.



Yet new research by Hewson Consulting shows that only 50% of field sales

reps are using a computer system, while in 26% of companies there’s no

sales and marketing computer system at all.



There’s clearly a gap in the market - and judging by the scale of last

week’s SoftWorld in Sales and Marketing show, no shortage of companies

willing to fill it. More than 2000 visitors toured the Ramada Hotel at

Heathrow to see products from 60 companies, all of them specialising in

this area of IT.



A quick tour revealed two distinct tiers of software providers. At its

simplest, a sales and marketing system can consist of a contact manager,

such as Act! or Goldmine, with a list of contacts held centrally and the

ability to offer sales and customer contact staff vital client

information at the click of an icon.



At the other end of the spectrum are heavyweight analytical tools for

the black arts of geodemographics, campaign planning and customer-trend

analysis.



What is still scarce is the combination of the two to give marketing

management the tools they really need. Only 10% of systems surveyed by

Hewson offered adequate support for strategic marketing planning, while

only 19% offered campaign management.



One newcomer at the show, PSavoir from Peterborough Software, is trying

to do just this and has already made a name for itself in software

consulting. ‘We were looking for an area to expand,’ says Peterborough’s

Ed Ramshaw, ‘so we brought in consultants to help us identify a market

to which we could add value.’ The consultants were AD Little and the

market they identified was marketing itself.



‘When we went out and looked, we discovered that most of the systems on

offer were contact management systems - but marketers don’t just want

that. We thought if we could produce a good, strategic marketing system

there would be potential.’



A ‘global search’ for the right system ended, ironically, 50 miles from

Peterborough on Warwick Business Park, with a product called Future

Forecaster. The team which had developed it joined Peterborough and the

product was rebranded as PSavoir.



At pounds 4,000 a user, it’s hardly in the bargain basement, but its

abilities seem impressive. It will happily integrate with most business

software, such as Lotus Notes, pulling in data from these at regular

intervals and ‘warehousing’ it, so marketers can see and manipulate the

data without endangering the security of the accounting database, for

example.



PSavoir does include a contact manager, but it’s in its ability to pull

together client data with accounts, products and market information that

it could score. It lets the marketer try out ‘what-ifs’, using the data

to find new market opportunities. Peterborough claims it could help

spread the marketing culture through a company, ‘making the marketing

function a force to be reckoned with’. We could all use that.



A more familiar name to most businesses is Sage, which has also seen the

need to link marketing software with other functions. Given that it

makes Sterling, a popular accounting package, it was a logical move to

offer a marketing product. Telemagic Enterprise came out some time back

at pounds 695, but the new Telemagic Professional, launched last week,

offers many of the same functions for pounds 299.



At heart, it’s a contact manager very much in the Goldmine mould (see

panel), although without some of the functions of its bigger brother.

It’s networkable, and integrates with existing e-mail, word processing

and spreadsheet systems, as well as offering a ‘fax-shot’ facility.

David Pinches, marketing director at The Sage Group, sees its market as

‘the typical small-to-medium-sized business’.



It would be wrong to imply that the integration market is all down to

newcomers. Tranzline has been in the market since 1990 with a system

which offers campaign planning, campaign analysis, market analysis and

sales forecasting as well as contact management. It links with database

and payroll systems which use the SQL protocol and with spreadsheets and

word proccesors. Typical price per user is pounds 500.



Both newcomers and established players are speeding up the pace of

software development. The Hewson report predicts growth in strategic

marketing planning, intelligence databases and field sales productivity

- with portable computing the driver for the sales force. ‘There is no

doubt that cheaper, more robust and more powerful portable computers

mean portable computing will be the key to sales and marketing

operations of the future,’ it predicts.



If that isn’t a call to action for marketing managers and their

colleagues in IT, what is?



Newcomers start here



The first step into computerisation will probably be a contact manager.

Pure contact managers aren’t to be sneered at. For smaller companies

they’re an excellent way of automating the sales proccess and some -

such as Goldmine and Enterprise - can display telesales scripts on

screen. Enterprise can even display a client record for an incoming

calls.



Opening Act! brings up an empty record screen, with fields for

information about a customer. Aside from the obvious stuff like name and

address, there’s a place for other information. At the top of the screen

is a tool bar which takes you into Act’s other functions. Clicking on

the pen-and-paper icon, for example, opens a word processor with the

name and address of the current client already in place on the page,

together with a salutation and your name and title at the bottom. Once

the letter’s written and printed, Act! will keep a record of it. It can

also handle mail merges.



The same goes for phone calls made, meetings arranged and faxes sent.

Every time you call up that client record in the future, with it will

come a record of all the dealings you’ve had with him in the past.

What’s more, arranging a meeting automatically enters it into Act’s

diary and you’ll be reminded when that meeting’s due, or to make that

follow-up phone call you promised. Once you’ve forced yourself to regard

using Act! as second nature, they’ll all be on screen and flashed up

whenever needed.



Goldmine



Elan’s Goldmine also opens with a client record screen, but this time

with ‘tabs’ below it which allow you to access areas as such as ‘notes’,

‘history’ and ‘referrals’. Like Act!, it has a toolbar at the top of the

screen allowing access to a host of functions, from starting a timer to

record how much time you spend on a client, to sending an e-mail

message. But Goldmine’s functions for working with colleagues and

tracking the performance of a sales force are well ahead.



They include sales forecasting and analysis, porches for tracking what

happens to leads. After a few days, I could see its potential. I’d add

that it’s more difficult to find out about all its features than with

Act!, but there are more of them.



Unlike Act!, it doesn’t have an integral word processor, but it does

link to other Windows packages. Ideally, place Goldmine in the start-up

area of your Windows set-up so that it launches every time you start

your computer - then all your work will be accessed from one package.



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