Marketing Builder
Review by Al Giovetti, 04/24/96
Price: $139 to $69
Genre: self-help small business
Compatibility: Windows and Macintosh
Company: Jian
Phone: 800-346-5426, 213-340-4194
Web site: http://www.jianusa.com/mbfs49
requirements: PC: System Hardware: Minimum 286 (depending on other applications running), 2Mb of memory, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, DOS 3.1 or later, and 4Mb on disk. Mac: Mac Classic or later, 4Mb+ of memory, system 6.1 or later and 2Mb available on disk. Plus whatever you need to run your word processor and spreadsheet software.

Every business, and especially the very small business, should have a marketing plan. Jianís Marketing Builder is a marketing plan course in a box. The product makes it much easier to construct a marketing plan, but it is more like a book than an interactive product.

Many of the items contained in the product are boilerplate spreadsheet templates or wordprocessor files that you modify for doing your marketing plan. Comparatives are provided but most of the work must still be carried out by the person writing the plan who is probably going to need help from a competent professional such as an Accountant who has the professional judgment and experience to help with interpretations and classifications.

A knowledge of the business being marketed and basic marketing principles on the part of the plan writer would help, or the sections which are boilerplate will have no depth of meaning and will have the substance of a hollow wax apple. But once you understand the evergreen nature of the idiot savant that you have in the computer and its limitations and advantages, this computer and the Jian software can sure make the process easier.

Marketing Builder It puts the tools in your hands to organize, analyze, and implement marketing and sales plans. MarketinngBuilder can help you start your own business, launch a new product in an existing business, or start a new venture in a larger corporate environment

Market Analysis: Before you can successfully enter a market, you must first understand where your product or service fits in the competitive environment. MarketingBuilder cans you understand your market: with seven sections within the market analysis section of the program, which covers your target market, customer, competitors, product, price, and risks.

There are six parts of the product which help you to knowing your target market: Identify Your Target Market, Profile Your Customers, Know Your Competitors, Understand Your Product, Set the Right Price, and Analyze Your Risk. The target market will yield to your investigation if you use these program segments: Industry Analysis, Market Segment, Market Niche, and S.W.O.T. Analysis. You need to understand your customer, their needs and desires, but using Demographics: Who's Out There, Psychographics: Lifestyle Considerations, Biographics: When You Do and How You Do, Consumer Adoption Process, Consumer Adopters, Economic Factors, and Influencers.

Understand your competition and know how your product compares to theirs so you can give customers what they want through What Your Competitors Offer, Price, Packaging, location and delivery options. Your product must be thoroughly understood including Product Life Cycle, positioning, return on investment, and scope.

If you are going to succeed you need understand the dynamics of the right price which is not too high or too low. Understanding price requires a thorough understanding of Production Curve, Price Elasticity, Pricing Strategies and Other Price-Related Tools. If you want your products and your business to last or have staying power in the marketplace you need to know and deal with your risks: Environmental Risks, Information Resources, Primary Resources and Secondary Resources.

Marketing Communications: Once you have analyzed your market, you need to create a plan for getting the word out about your product or service to the people who need it. Marketing communications and promotion is the way you get this word to your customers and it includes Sales Promotion, Sales Literature, Advertising, Public Relations, Trade Shows and Customer Service, to make sure you know how to get the word out.

You've got to get a handle on marketing communications and promotion if you are going to inform your market of what you have to offer. MarketingBuilder gets these critical activities in perspective with sections on knowing Marketing Communications (MarCom) influences, defining MarCom objectives, budgeting MarCom activities, and tracking MarCom efforts.

Sales promotion goes hand-in-hand with marketing communications. You need to control sales with the following for steps: lay out objectives, devise strategies, and plan the sales promotion budget. You need literature to explain what you are selling and how it is structured. It also serves to put a reminder into the hands of the prospective customer, something that will last for a long time. Good literature needs to have written data sheets, a good brochure design, a rate card explaining prices, form letters to deal with the normal sales and support questions, and a budget that will control the cash flow and actual expense of the sales promotion literature.

Almost everyone has an opinion about what makes good advertising, but do you really know what makes it effective and how to execute a campaign? Advertising is often expensive and only benefits the business if it gets results. Certain types of advertising are suitable for certain types of products. There are really no rules, just what works, so be creative and design a media plan. Decide if you will use targeted mailings and then implement, manage your potential and actual customer lists, look into the internet for advertising possibilies. Other factors to consider include product packaging that sells, possible development of brand names or logos.

Advertising involves the proper utilization of the media, which requires a knowledge of how to use a media mix, and when to schedule the media coverage. A sound advertising budget is also needed. You must consider working with a Advertising Agency, what are the costs and advantages and what are the disadvantages to dealing with an outside agency.

Public relations (PR) should really be called press relations, and in many cases the term communications is used. PR is a means to get free publicity for your company and your product. Manipulating the media is a science. Public Relations needs to have set goals and objectives, and strategies of dealing with the media. You need to budget the amount of money required to spend on PR.

Some of the most productive PR activities are preparing press releases, visiting editors, and creating a corporate newsletter that you can leak to the press. Be ready to combine public relations with advertising, editors are more receptive to cash advertisers when considering articles. A public relations agency can help you with your PR for a price. Are they worth it?

Industry trade shows are a terrific vehicle for promoting your product or service, but you've got to do it right. MarketingBuilder helps you decide which show is for you, and find out how to meet the media players. Trade shows are venues for checking out competitors, a forum to discuss new ideas with consumers, and lastly a place to make sales and do business. Trade shows are a place to learn and teach not just for sales.

Customer service is a critical, and often neglected, aspect of communicating with the market. A reputation for great service can really help to bring in new customers, and a bad reputation for service can be fatal to a business. Great customer service is often the result of an organized deliberate process.

Customer service operations must be developed. Service calls and other support also includes clear product instructions, clear complete and easy to read manuals, and automated systems to assist in handling product questions, such as the internet and electronic fax back service. Using electronic mail and phone mail systems can depersonalize your business, and should be avoided.

Customer support begins with the customer, by understanding their product needs the sales force can often head off trouble by fully explaining the product at the time of sale. When complaints arise really find out what the true complaint is just like in sales, ask questions, have a standard customer service policy and stick with it, all these things help to define and solve problems. Review and evaluation of customer service by management and by the customers themselves is critical. Customer service is where you make or break long term customer relations.

Sales Plan: Once the Marketing plan is finished a sales plan must be developed and implemented. You know have the tools to do the job, you need to use them to do it. Learn to turn prospective inquiries about for your service or product into paying customers. Sales planning requires forecasting, budgeting, managing, and a thorough knowledge of sales and distribution channels.

One of the disciplines that keeps a business afloat is the ability to forecast sales. MarketingBuilder teaches you how to forecast sales with these chapters: The Art of Forecasting, Forecast Your Unit Sales, and Forecasting Techniques. Budgeting requires a knowledge of your complete and true costs of sales. This knowledge is achieved through studying your sales costs and other sales expenses as outlined in the program.

A serious sales effort requires a plan to manage it. The plan requires that you set reasonable sales goals, develop sales strategies, know and manage your sales force, and organize the sales department. Studying the MarketingBuilder chapter on The Stages of a Successful Sale will help by going over different sales techniques. Automating sales with catalogs, internet sales sites, and other means is a good way to bolster the sales figures.

No matter how good your product is, no matter how well positioned it is for your market, success will elude you unless you have the right methods for putting the product in front of the people who will buy it. MarketingBuilder will help you plan the sales and distribution channels that are right for your venture. The distribution channel process requires you to use certain criterion to choose the correct channels, define your mareting methods, develop sales stategies. Studying the chapters on Sales Channels, Vertical Integration, Channel Pricing, Promotional Expenditures, Launching New Products, and Evaluating Distrbution will help you to build your sales channels.

MarketBuilder comes with a built in database of marketing and sales related information. There are tutorial reference information on the definition of marketing, the differences between sales and marketing, the overal format of a marketing plan, and the tricks to getting this whole process off the ground quickly rather than when you are 90 years old.

References:
John Gilles, Mac Home Journal, April 1996.