Using multimedia for sales

Businesses are marketing to their customers in new ways through multimedia
Multi-media marketing has become another buzzword in the business world. But what is it? It’s simply taking advantage of the variety of media – print, sound and visual – to carry a single marketing message.
“Multi-media,” according to Syed Akhter, marketing chair at Marquette University’s College of Business Administration, “basically means that you are able to use all different channels to communicate with your target market.” It can also be the integration of text, sound and visual elements all in one place.
Today’s consumer reads newspapers, watches television, listens to the radio and surfs the Internet. If a business is only targeting one of those mediums, it is missing a large segment of its target audience. “That’s the justification for using multi-media,” Akhter says.
While businesses have long used multiple forms of media for marketing, it’s only recently that the Internet and CD-ROMs have entered the picture as affordable options. Further, creative minds have taken those media and have turned the hard technology into alluring message carriers.
But just because the Internet and CD-ROMs are hot multi-media marketing tools, does that mean they should be used by every company? The answer is based on one simple question: Does the company’s target market use the Internet or CDs? If the answer is yes, then the company should be using those tools.
For many small companies, figuring out who is the target market is the tougher question. “That’s a question every small business should ask before even thinking about the Internet,” Akhter says. “Who is their customer?”
One of the problems with small businesses, some observers say, is that entrepreneurs often fail to look to outside help for advice. “That’s the first mistake they make,” Akhter says. “That’s one reason why the failure rate is so high in a small business. Entrepreneurs are very egocentric by nature, and therefore, they think they understand the market. Most of the time, they are wrong.”
Working with entrepreneurs can be a challenge, say Denice MacDonald, sales and marketing manager, and Matt Retzer, project manager, of Video Wisconsin, Inc., on Bluemound Road near Goerke’s Corners in Brookfield
“Sometimes this is an education in the sales and marketing process,” MacDonald says of setting up a multi-media marketing presentation.
But that’s where a tool like a CD-ROM presentation can be beneficial to the small business person, according to MacDonald. If a business owner has technical expertise, but very few sales skills, a CD-ROM can be created to supplement his or her weaknesses.
“Or maybe he’s really good at schmoozing, but he doesn’t understand the technical (side),” MacDonald says. With a CD-ROM, “you always have everything covered.”
Video Wisconsin emphasizes its integration of all phases of marketing, not just CD-ROMs and websites. Having the same company create a website, CD-ROM and printed material can strengthen corporate identity by presenting a coherent and consistent image throughout, Retzer maintains.
MacDonald stressed that no company is too small to consider multi-media marketing. Video Wisconsin can produce a multi-media campaign to its customer’s exact specifications, or “the company can come in and say, ‘I have $10,000 to spend, what can I get for that?’ MacDonald explains.
Alby Materials, a ready mix concrete producer in Elkhorn, used Video Wisconsin to set up the infrastructure of its website, which Alby maintains internally. The website is mostly informational at this point, according to Phill Domask of Alby. But Domask foresees a time in the not too distant future when clients will be able to order the product, choose the date of delivery and the driver they want over the Internet.
“It doesn’t replace our traditional marketing tools,” Domask says, “but it does complement them quite well.”
As with any emerging technology, business owners considering multi-media marketing should be wary of all-flash-no-substance companies.
“Don’t minimize the importance of a good message before you get too enamored with all the new technology and what you can do with it,” warns Owen May, owner of Metro Video Services on North 63rd Court in Wauwatosa.
May’s company, which operates strictly in the video production market, emphasizes the importance of a good script before taping commences.
“If you don’t really know how to put it all together as basic English communication,” May says, “you can have all the bells and whistles in the world, but it’s not going to have the same impact.”
Even with his initial hesitation of the effectiveness of Websites, May launched a homepage for Metro Video two months ago. What changed his mind?
A client who was referred to May by a colleague with a Website, mentioned that he wouldn’t do business with anyone who wasn’t on the Web because he didn’t consider non-Web businesses as being serious, May recalled. “That opened my eyes,” he said. “If I’m getting business from the Web based on his (colleague’s) Website, and I don’t even have one, I better get with it.”

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