CATEGORY: Data Mining and Visualization

REVIEWER: David Fisher, assistant vice president of information technologies for TN Marketing.

BACKGROUND: TN Marketing is a continuity marketer of video and book products. The company sells products in the areas of hunting, fishing, golf and other outdoor activities. TN Marketing works closely with video producers to develop copy, style and presentation of exciting outdoor action, delivered in combination with how-to techniques and hands-on information for hobbyists.

PLATFORMS: Model 1 from Group 1 Software is on a Dell Optiplex system running Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.

PROBLEM SOLVED: As continuity marketers, we send consumers preview videos with no obligation. If they agree to pay the introductory price, they agree to pay for future videos in that series. Consequently, it is important for us to convert preview customers into members of the continuity series. To help in this endeavor, we selected Group 1 Software's Model 1. Model 1 is a series of modeling solutions that enables us to maximize our customer data. We use Model 1 in conjunction with Group 1's Geographic Coding Plus and Demographic Coding Plus to boost the response rate to our introductory offers. These products offer businesses the ability to append geographic, demographic and lifestyle information to name and address files. Before using Model 1, we were seeing response rates of 20 to 21.5 percent for one of our marginally performing programs. We were interested in building a model to help us elevate the number of preview members that could be converted to continuity subscribers. We built and evaluated an initial model to analyze the characteristics of customers most likely to respond to a targeted mailing. By using Model 1, we were able to raise the response rate to approximately 23 to 24 percent. This enabled us to more effectively determine which individuals are most likely to respond to future mailings.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Model 1 has exceeded our expectations. We have used the product to create effective, credible models on which we base future marketing efforts. Model 1's automated features relieve staffers in our IT and marketing departments from much of the tedious process of data conversion and validation, functions that must be performed manually by other packages. In the coming months, we would like to tie Model 1 directly to our Oracle database. We are also looking at implementing the cross-selling module.

STRENGTHS: Model 1 is very easy to use. The product provides rigorous statistical functionality, and you don't have to be a statistician to use it. The models we build are also highly effective and accurate.

WEAKNESSES: We have experienced some difficulty when attempting to integrate the product into other systems and processing streams. Although there is native support for Oracle and flat files, we would like to see direct integration capability with other relational database management systems.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We selected Model 1 for a number of reasons, particularly its ease of use. We needed a solution that non- IT personnel could use to obtain actionable results. We were also impressed with the effectiveness of its models, its cost relative to its ability to add value to our organization through increased campaign response rates and the vendor's implementation services.

DELIVERABLES: Model 1 automatically provides a multitude of customizable reports, charts and graphs. We use reports generated from Model 1 to rank-order the various models generated and determine goodness of fit.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The implementation services Group 1 provided via their fast-start program were excellent. We were up and running within two days and received an overview of the modeling process and hands-on use of the product. For the most part, post- implementation support has been responsive. A third-party provides customer support on behalf of Group 1. Although we have always received rapid turnaround on calls, the quality of the responses has varied; and some support analysts have not been quite up to par.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is laid out well and easy to follow, and the user guide is clear. The only weakness is the lack of a comprehensive diagnostics section or appendix to be used for troubleshooting.

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