BACKGROUND: Panasonic is a wholly owned subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. of Osaka, Japan. It is one of the world's leading developers and producers of digital electronic products for the home and office. Panasonic recorded annual sales of $59.8 billion in the last fiscal year.

PLATFORMS: Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 or higher.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Panasonic needed to find a way to market advanced videoconferencing systems, a family of products that appealed to a small audience that could not be effectively reached by traditional mass marketing techniques such as television advertising. These systems are used for distance learning, video arraignment, telemedicine and at corporate offices, to give a few examples. The marketing department needed a way to quickly drill down to prospects within these markets and used MarketPlace from iMarket to do so. Using MarketPlace, Panasonic created highly targeted lists based on detailed criteria, such as SIC code, number of employees, annual sales and whether a company is public or private.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Using MarketPlace, Panasonic created a list of 2,200 county courthouses nationwide that would have a need for Panasonic's technology. Each prospect received a letter and an offer for a cost-justification analysis. Of those, 472 seized the opportunity, resulting in a 21 percent response rate. Another 151 leads resulted from a targeted advertising campaign using information gleaned from MarketPlace and Maptitude, a mapping tool we used in conjunction with iMarket's software. In the end, 75 prospects bought Panasonic's videoconferencing technology, resulting in revenues of $5.5 million and an ROI of more than 2,500 percent. Now that this campaign has been completed, Panasonic plans on using MarketPlace to run additional targeted campaigns for the company's videoconferencing technology.

STRENGTHS: MarketPlace has a number of strengths, including its ease of use and efficiency. More importantly, the company is no longer relying on list brokers or marketing consultants. Creating a list takes minutes and involves simply defining the market segment and then licensing the data. It can be used independently or easily integrated with other software, such as mapping programs. The alternative, list brokers and marketing consultants, is an ineffective way to define your prospects, as it can take weeks to get data and answers. In addition, the list is often inaccurate and contains prospects that may have already been independently identified. MarketPlace allows you to preview the list, so any prospects that don't make sense to include can be deleted. MarketPlace has reinvented the art of target marketing.

WEAKNESSES: Since there is no other software package on the market that offers this solution, it is difficult to come up with a weakness. The only possible weakness would be that the 800 number phone line is not open 24 hours a day so that data can be licensed at any time.

SELECTION CRITERIA: iMarket's MarketPlace was chosen for its ability to quickly and easily create highly targeted lists right from one's desktop. In addition, the software includes data on more than 10 million U.S. businesses, and the data is fresh since it is updated quarterly.

DELIVERABLES: In addition to realizing significantly improved ROI on marketing campaigns, we have also been able to save money on marketing costs. Since we are now using lists that closely target a specific market, we are sending out fewer pieces of mail. Consider the county courthouse campaign, for instance. Without MarketPlace to create the prospect list, we would have sent a mailing to 10,000 prospects, rather than to 2,200. The list of 10,000 would have come from a list broker, for a minimum cost of $1,500. All in all, Panasonic saved $78,000 in marketing costs by using iMarket's technology.

VENDOR SUPPORT: iMarket has been extremely supportive from the beginning and has quickly responded to all of our questions.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation provided with MarketPlace is clear, easy to understand and answers most questions someone would have.

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