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  1. 1. Leveraging New Technology to Cut Costs in 2002 Prepare a Strategic Marketing and Technology Plan Geared to Improve Operations and Increase Revenue By Aeron Stedmann Managing Director, SONUSS Communication Systems While many companies reorganized, downsized, and closed their doors in the last quarter of 2001, others are investing in innovative marketing and database technology combined with strategic technology-planning to ensure survival and maximize revenues. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to analyze whether your marketing strategies and technology solutions help your company achieve its goals in three main areas: customer acquisition, customer retention, and market niches for your products and services. In your analysis, evaluate the benefits of multiple direct-marketing channels: Using email and/or telemarketing to alert customers that mail or catalogs are coming may offset potential drops in direct-mail response rates due to security concerns, economic slowdowns, or major distractions from current events. The following guidelines will help you strategize more efficient, less expensive solutions to acquire and retain customers and increase market share. Marketing Strategies Get Ready for the Big Game: Think of the marketing process as if you’re a football coach preparing for the championship game against the cross-town rival, especially in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. To go up against the competition, you need to prepare by having a thorough strategy and all your key resources available and fully operational. Part of your pre-game preparation involves scouting out your competition and analyzing your strengths and weaknesses in comparison. Organize your strategy to align with your resources, and create individual goals for each player or department in your organization: sales, marketing, administration, processing units, technology, and recruiting. Prepare for the Two-Minute Drill: Begin building your marketing plan by organizing it into fundamental elements that you can analyze quickly, just as a championship team does in a two-minute, game-winning drive. Assess your company’s current marketing successes and flaws, then leverage the strengths and weaknesses in your company's products or strategies to ensure a better functioning team with the ability to instantly adjust staffing or technology resources. 4/15/02 – page 1 1
  2. 2. Ask the Right Questions: In any business you need answers to these questions: How many sales do you have to close to reach your goal? How many leads do you want to generate per day to generate that many closings? How much marketing, and what kind, do you require to generate that many leads? What percentage of your business is now coming from referrals? If you want to work with high net-worth customers and you are not getting them from referrals, then it’s time to find new ways to get the clients you want. What external resources are available in your area? Perhaps you have a Web solution you can utilize to create links to and from high-volume sites in your community, or sites offered by other professionals or organizations in your industry. Evaluate Human Resources: Take an inventory of your current staff and see how they fit together. Where are the gaps in your current marketing plan that you’d like to fill in? Where will you locate staff in order to make your marketing plan a reality? Do you have a database of contacts to recruit from? Determine how you’ll develop your recruiting strategy for 2002 to account for staff turnover and to pull in top producers. Technology Solutions Your Technology Game Plan: The next step in developing a comprehensive marketing plan is determining the technology that enables you to be efficient in today's market. Take a look at these areas: - What software and hardware technology is available to streamline your business and increase your leads? - What types of new information and e-commerce technology will help your business be successful? - How can you automate your lead-generation process and maintain customer retention efforts to bring back customers? Multimedia Direct Marketing Solutions: Consider that an easier way to combine all of your outbound marketing strategies is to migrate towards an e-commerce solution. This seems to be the major trend in 2002 as we move toward Web-based models which not only cut hardware and software maintenance costs, but allow for more universal access and improve communication among users with online account-based systems. The key with integrated technology solutions for voice, email, fax, and direct mail campaigns is the artificial intelligence behind the scenes which makes rule-based marketing less labor-intensive and complex than traditional marketing. Campaigns that might have taken a team of marketing and database specialists several weeks to implement, can now be set up in a few hours by one person, thereby reducing not only technology costs but also staffing expenses at the same time. Multimedia marketing technology allows you to send any number of voice, email, fax, or direct mail messages to a designated contact group. With the flexibility to include 4/15/02 – page 2 2
  3. 3. customized and personalized information  such as special events, customer-related information, or even weekly tips on topics of interest  multimedia marketing is the most effective communication and marketing channel available. Once you identify a consumer’s behavioral pattern and level of interest in certain sets of products, you can easily customize your marketing campaigns through specific niche marketing. This could include an announcement of a new service or an offer on a product discount. Direct marketers can now plan and execute a complete marketing campaign with these Web-based solutions: SONUSS Global Connection enables you to schedule and execute a personalized voice message broadcast to customers or prospects, then you can follow up with a custom-designed direct mail piece delivered through Zairmail Express Direct, or vice versa. Response rates will increase tremendously with an attractive return on investment and instant, real-time results available for analysis. Voice Broadcasting: SONUSS Global Connection ( will broadcast your voice message to thousands of people within minutes, whether it's an invitation for customers and prospects to a seminar, or an informative note or special offer to potential clients. The SONUSS Web-based system, accessible from any desktop or laptop, enables executives and managers to initiate personalized one-on-one communications among clients, employees, or prospects. With only one phone call to record the message and an easy scheduling of the broadcasting date(s) and time(s) online, everything is ready to go and only a click away. SONUSS' rule-based voice mail broadcasting solution will automatically search out the answering machines and voice mails of your prospect database nationwide or in a selected geographical area, and leave a consistent sales message from your company. All voice broadcasting messages are sent automatically during the day on weekdays when most of your prospects will not be at home and will terminate automatically upon live answers. Calling times are restricted by direct marketing laws (see The Direct Marketing Association) and depend on whether you are calling upon businesses or consumers. Using professional broadcasters and proven scripts, a clear and concise message from your company will be developed for you at no cost. Alternatively, you can have a member of your staff - or even more powerful - your CEO record the digital message using your own scripts. Because the voice broadcasting message is a digital recording (unlike predictive dialing) you will create the perception in each call that a member of your staff personally called each prospect with your sales message. With voice broadcasting, you’ll harness telemarketing's effectiveness, eliminate its resistance, and minimize its cost: There is typically no setup or equipment cost when using voice broadcasting, compared to predictive dialers with an upfront and fixed cost of several thousand dollars. One industry leader in the mortgage lead-generation and customer acquisition business, Flagship Capital Services, has been producing up to an 8% response with targeted voice 4/15/02 – page 3 3
  4. 4. marketing to generate low-cost, pre-qualified mortgage leads at one of the lowest costs per contact in the industry. On-Demand Direct Mail: Combining direct mail with voice broadcasting is one of the most effective ways of promoting a business to customers and prospects, and online services can offer the quickest and most cost-effective means to take direct mail from proof to postal service in a matter of hours. Through its Web site (, Zairmail offers fast and convenient solutions for conducting direct mail campaigns and electronic-to-postal mail correspondence: Zairmail Express Direct™ is the direct mail service built on Zairmail's proprietary software architecture and distributed network of high-volume regional printing and mailing facilities. The end result is a solution that allows business users to quickly and easily launch direct mail programs right from their desktop for delivery in one to two business days. With a turnaround time of days, not weeks as is typical with the average direct mail program, companies can target customers and close deals faster than with traditional direct mail processes. An online direct mail service saves time and expense because it doesn’t require the expertise and lead time of traditional mailings for designing the document and sending it to a commercial printer. Zairmail provides templates on their Web site that allow you to use Microsoft Word to generate custom, professional-looking postcards, letters, and fliers that are ready to upload and mail. The cost savings mean using an online direct mail service can be particularly cost-effective for short and medium print runs. Another benefit for businesses without mailing lists is that it’s possible to try different attributes and preview your results before downloading the address lists you need from Zairmail’s site. Simplify and Integrate Your Technology Whether your company is Fortune 500 or a small business, Web-based solutions such as voice broadcasting and on-demand direct mail provide an easier and more cost-effective method for automating marketing campaigns in today’s industry. Your staff will spend less time on administrative tasks and more time on marketing; even single-person concerns can act like a fully staffed business. As technology continues to advance we will see more integrated solutions that provide easier ways for companies to acquire and retain customers and increase market share. About the Author Aeron Stedmann, SONUSS Managing Director, is a nationally known speaker and author on database marketing technology who was named 2001 Author of the Year by National Mortgage Broker Magazine. Aeron can be reached at 707-942-1469 or by e-mail at 4/15/02 – page 4 4
  5. 5. **************************** [[SIDEBAR TO MAIN ARTICLE:]] The DMA's Suggestions for Direct Mail Marketing (Originally released by The DMA on October 15, 2001) To help maintain consumer confidence in the security of the mails, The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) encourages all member firms and organizations to consider following these guidelines for direct mailing in the current climate. 1. Avoid using plain envelopes. Printed envelopes, especially those using color are less likely to appear like the hand-prepared envelopes involved in the incidents so far. 2. Use a clear and identifiable return address. Consider including your company logo in the address. 3. Consider including a toll-free phone number and/or URL address on envelopes. 4. Utilize an e-mail and/or telemarketing campaign in conjunction with a letter drop to notify consumers that mail will be coming. 5. Utilize the DMA Member logo to demonstrate your company’s credibility. 6. Contact your lettershop and other production services to stress the importance of security. 7. Consider performing a security audit throughout your operation. 8. Evaluate your campaign approach and consider that personalization is temporarily less likely to increase response rates. 9. If you are involved in production services, know who your customers are. 10. Reinforce your existing internal guidelines about forwarding press and consumer calls to appropriate internal channels. 11. Educate mailroom employees about identifying and dealing with possible threats. 4/15/02 – page 5 5