REVIEWER: Jerry Ganguzza, associate director of Trade Shows and Events, Sharp Electronics.

BACKGROUND: Sharp Electronics Corporation (SEC) is the U.S. sales and marketing subsidiary of Japan's Sharp Corporation. SEC was established in the U.S. in 1962, and today the company's headquarters is located in Mahwah, New Jersey. SEC's business products division sells LCD products, including high-end projectors and flat-panel professional monitors.

HARDWARE PLATFORMS: MS Windows 2003, Red Hat Linux in a VMWare virtual environment.

PROBLEM SOLVED: SEC's business products division sells through a complex network of dealers, distributors, resellers and consultants. Leads come in via several channels, including our Web site and telemarketing team. This complexity posed challenges in lead follow-up; using our former manual processes, a large percentage of leads were falling through the cracks. We turned to CDC MarketFirst to help us communicate more effectively with our channels and improve lead management and follow-up. Better channel communications are helping us regain a competitive edge in spite of increasing commoditization and price erosion in the electronics market.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We use CDC MarketFirst to deliver a large volume of personalized email programs and promotions. We also use it for literature fulfillment, inbound and outbound telemarketing scripts, event marketing and registrations, and to funnel leads from direct mail, trade show and print advertising activities. CDC MarketFirst qualifies, scores and distributes leads according to our custom criteria. We have complex requirements for lead assignment - it's dependent not only on the dealer county, but also on product line, dealer size, performance and market. CDC MarketFirst is able to handle this complex assignment criteria automatically, which accelerates lead assignment and follow-up. We use CDC MarketFirst's conditional content features to send custom communications to our different levels of dealers, ensuring they get the right pricing based on their sales plateau. We also use it for product registration and conducting electronic surveys. The benefits have been undeniable. Using CDC MarketFirst, we have increased revenue, reduced collateral fulfillment costs by 95 percent, increased our follow-up rate on leads to 100 percent, increased our repeat business rate to 85 percent and reduced advertising costs and agency fees significantly through more use of electronic channels. CDC Software commissioned Forrester Consulting to quantify our benefits, and the study confirmed that using CDC MarketFirst had produced cost savings and benefits for us totaling $1.16 million.

STRENGTHS: One of CDC MarketFirst's greatest strengths is its ability to fit our complex and unique processes. In addition, it offers a power, sophistication and the ability to integrate multiple features, programs and lead sources that I haven't seen in any other product. I believe it allows us to conduct marketing at a far more advanced level than any other company in our industry.

WEAKNESSES: CDC MarketFirst is not simple, one-size-fits-all software that nontechnical users will be capable of using effectively right off the bat. It's powerful and moldable, but requires some technical skill, training and strategic thinking to use to its full potential, and it may require some customization to achieve exactly what you want.

SELECTION CRITERIA: System flexibility was one of our top criteria. Things change at Sharp every day, so we had to make sure our system was very flexible and could be managed and molded the way we needed it to be. CDC MarketFirst offered that flexibility as well as robust features that fit our needs.

DELIVERABLES: CDC MarketFirst delivers email communications, Web pages and other campaign elements that collect, qualify and distribute lead data. We also use it to generate telemarketing scripts for inbound and outbound calls. Its reporting features enable us to track clickthroughs, open rates, leads generated, lead quality and so on.

VENDOR SUPPORT: CDC Software's Professional Services team is extremely good at helping us understand the potential of the product and setting it up to do what we need it to. They also have a strong post-implementation global support team and a 24x7 online customer portal that provides access to a wealth of resources.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for CDC MarketFirst is extensive. It includes user guides, manuals and countless items in its online knowledge base. There are also training courses delivered on site, at their training center or online.

CDC MarketFirst
CDC Software
Two Concourse Parkway, Suite 800
Atlanta, GA 30328
(770) 351-9600

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