Internet Support to Marketing

Market Research

  1. Market information
  2. Competitor information
  3. Customer information
  4. Miscellaneous information
  5. Collect saving ideas

Database Building

  1. World-wide club
  2. Dynamic relationship marketing

Customer Service

  1. Self-servicing customers
  2. Self-service customer abuse
  3. Self-service cost savings

New Product Development

  1. Collecting new ideas
  2. Tailor-made products
  3. Accelerating new product development

Internal Communications

  1. Intranets
  2. Extranets

Cost Reduction

  1. Print and distribution
  2. Phone calls
  3. Customer service
  4. Collecting cost-saving tips
  5. Revenue generation


  1. Products
  2. Services
  3. Purchases


  1. Few fairytale  sales stories
  2. New markets
  3. Small value, big turnover
  4. Sales management tool


  1. Have a presence
  2. Interactive advertising creative sponsorship
  3. Sales promotions
  4. Public relations
  5. Database marketing

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, and my Lectures.


Information: The Corporate Power

The explosion of the general public’s use of the Internet or World Wide Web was mirrored by business. In the 1990s, business connections to the Internet increased from 1,000 firms to an estimated 21,000 or more by 1996. Experts predict this growth to increase rapidly into the year 2000.

The Internet can provide firms with many advantages. For example, developing a marketing strategy that relies on the Internet can benefit firms by replacing electronic mail systems, providing a global reach to customers, selling products and services in cyber space, and creating on-line databases, media lists, and other marketing tools. Firms discovered that customer service was enhanced with the Internet.

Use of the Internet became one of the hottest new strategies in the securities trading industry. Brokers had more information available to them to assist their clients since resources were available electronically. In addition, Internet-based brokers can be reached anytime from any computer with a secure Web browser, making them more accessible to their clients.

Paperless libraries dramatically changed the way information was stored and significantly reduced costs to businesses. Rather than printing information on paper, firms documented information on CD-ROMs, videodiscs, and the Internet, where it was stored and retrieved at less cost.

Supplementing the Internet as a communication tool are intranets, private or limited information network systems cordoned off from public access by software programs called firewalls. The corporate use of intranets exploded as companies found that these information communication systems were very expensive.

Satellite imaging was another technological advancement that showed promise for integrating technology into business. For decades, governments used satellite imaging to spy on their enemies. In the 1990s, companies were finding other uses for this technology.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, and my Lectures.


Principals for Defining Privacy Policy

Companies wishing to enact an internal privacy policy or code should consider as a starting point the three concepts that help define information privacy: data collection, data accuracy, and data confidentiality.

Data Collection: the following principles should be adhered to:

  • Data should be collected on individuals only to accomplish a legitimate business objective.
  • Data should be adequate, relevant, and not excessive in relation to the business objective.
  • Data should be obtained in a lawful manner.
  • Individuals must give their consent before data pertaining to them can be gathered. Such consent may be implied from the individual’s actions (e.g., when they apply for credit, insurance, or employment).

Data accuracy: to ensure that misleading information will not be distributed, the following principles apply:

  • Sensitive data gathered on individuals should be verified before it is entered in database.
  • Data should be accurate and, when necessary, kept up to date.
  • The file should be made available so the individual can ensure that the data is correct.
  • If there is disagreement about the accuracy of the data, the individual’s version should be noted and included in any disclosures of the file.

Data Confidentiality: the privacy policy should ensure confidentiality as follows:

  • Computer security procedures should be implemented to provide reasonable assurance against the unauthorized disclosure of data. These procedures should include physical, technical, and administrative security measures.
  • Third parties should not be given access to data without the individual’s knowledge or permission, except as required by law.
  • Disclosures of data, other than the most routine, should be noted and maintained for as long as the data is maintained.
  • Data should not be disclosed for reasons incompatible with the business objective for which it was collected.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, and my Lectures.

Statistical Analyses

The role of database is to help select names for modeling, implement the results of the modeling process by scoring names and assigning them to the appropriate decile, and selecting names by decile and other criteria for marketing programs. Most companies use statistical analysis for two principal reasons: a) segmentation, and b) predictive modeling.

Segmentation techniques are used to identify and profile groups of customers whose characteristics are similar. If the objective is to segment customers based on their performance, then the procedure is to group people according to their performance characteristics and then develop profiles of each performance group. Typical segmentation variables are performance measures such as recency, frequency, and monetary value of purchases; types of products purchased; or types of promotions responded to.

By linking this data with customer performance data, marketers can analyze who buys what and use the profiles of customers in each segment as a means of finding other customers like them.

Once the segments have been created, individual customers will be assigned to segments and these assignments will be recorded in the database. This makes subsequent selection of individuals for promotion based on the segmentation criteria relatively simple.

Predictive Modeling, based on previous purchase history, based on recency, frequency, and monetary value, models can be developed to predict who is most likely and least likely to purchase at the next opportunity. This scoring model would be used to determine who should be promoted and what they should be promoted with.

Once scoring models have been executed and customers assigned to deciles, this information is recorded in the database so that subsequent selection of customers who have the highest probability of responding to a promotion is easily accomplished.

End users would use a selection menu in which they would indicate which scoring model they wish to use and either a specific cutoff score or a desired number of names to select. The database would then perform the selection and produce an output file to the specific medium. This would either be a file, a magnetic tape, or mailing labels. A file could either be used for further analysis, or in many cases, the file could be combined with a patterned letter file to produce personalized mailings.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, and my Lectures.

Planning a Research Strategy

If you plan your research strategy carefully, the whole project will flow smoothly. Follow these steps:

1. Work out a schedule and budget for the project that requires the research. When is the deliverable—the document or the presentation—due? Do you have a budget for phone calls, database, or travel to libraries or other sites?

2. Visualize the deliverable. What kind of document will you need to deliver: a proposal, a report, a Website? What kind of oral presentation will you need to deliver?

3. Determine what information will need to be part of that deliverable. Draft an outline of the contents, focusing on the kinds of information that readers will expect to see in each part. For instance, if you are going to make a presentation to your supervisors about the use of e-mail in your company, your audience will expect specific information about the number of e-mails written and received by company employees, as well as the amount of time employees spend reading and writing it.

4. Determine what information you still need to acquire. Make a list of the pieces of information you don’t have. For instance, for the e-mail presentation, you might realize that you have anecdotal information about employee use of e-mail, but you don’t have any specifics.

5. Create questions you need to answer. Make a list of questions, such as the following:

    1. How many e-mails are written each day in our company?
    2. How many people receive each mail?
    3. How much server space is devoted to e-mails?
    4. How much time do people in each department spend writing and reading e-mail?

Writing the questions in a list forces you to think carefully about your topic. One question suggests another, and soon you have a lengthy list that you need to answer.

6. Conduct secondary research. For the e-mail presentation, you want to find out about e-mail usage in organizations similar to yours and what policies these organizations are implementing. You can find this information in journal articles and from Web-based sources, such as online journals, discussion groups, and bulletin boards.

7. Conduct primary research. You can answer some of your questions by consulting company records, by interviewing experts (such as the people in the Information Technology department in your company), and by conducting surveys and interviews of representative employees.

8. Evaluate your information. Once you have your information, you need to evaluate its quality: is it accurate, comprehensive, unbiased, and current?

9. Do more research. If the information you have acquired doesn’t sufficiently answer your questions, do more research. And, if you have thought of additional questions that need to be answered, do more research. When do you stop doing research? You will stop only when you think you have enough high-quality information to create the deliverable. For this reason, you will need to establish and stick to a schedule that will allow for multiple phases of research.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, and my Lectures.


Not all Websites are available to anyone cruising the Net. Some are reserved for the private use of a single company’s employees and stakeholders. An intranet uses the same technologies as the Internet and the World Wide Web, but the information provided and the access allowed are restricted to the boundaries of a company-wide LAN or WAN. In some cases, suppliers, distribution partners, and key customers may also have access, but intranets are protected from unauthorized access through the Internet by a firewall, a special type of gateway that controls access to the local network. People on an intranet can get out to the Internet, but unauthorized people on the Internet cannot get in.

Possibly the biggest advantage of an intranet is that it eliminates the problem of employees’ using different types of computers within a company. On an Intranet, all information is available in a format compatible with Macintosh, PC, UNIX-based computers. The need to publish internal documents on paper is virtually eliminated because everyone can access the information electronically.

Besides saving paper, an intranet can save a company money in the form of employee hours. Employees can find information much faster and more easily by using a well-designed database on an intranet than by digging through a filing cabinet or card catalog. Some of the communication uses companies have for intranets include updating policy manuals, posting job openings and submitting job applications, accessing martketing and sales presentations from anywhere in the world, updating and managing employee benefits, accessing company records and databases, collaborating from anywhere in the  world to develop new products, scheduling meetings, setting up company phone directories, and publishing company newsletters. In fact, just about any information that can help employees communicate is a good candidate for an intranet. As video and audio technologies progress, you can expect to see more multimedia applications on intranets as well.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, Lectures, Line of Sight

Creating an Integrated Marketing Communications Program (IMC)

a)        Use zero-based budgets. Most companies use incremental approaches in allocating promotional budgets. A preferred approach is the objective and task approach. Start with a zero budget and force all promotional managers managers to justify their investment.

b)        Focus primarily on current customers. Many organizations direct 80% or more of their advertising and selling effort activities to trying to win new business (conquest marketing).  An Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program recognizes the importance of retention marketing and inverts that ratio so that a majority of the promotional activity is earmarked for relationship building with existing customers. This reduces customer defection, upgrades business relationships, and creates advocates for the firm’s services.

c)        Use highly targeted mass promotion. Direct mail, specialized lists, trade publications, and the Internet can be used effectively to reach prospects rather than suspects. A website has become an indispensable marketing technology for 21st century companies. It has evolved into a one-stop, online corporate information source, customer support tool, distribution channel, order taker, product catalog, price list, promotional vehicle, research technique, segmentation source, and a strategic and tactical marketing differentiator.

d)        Build marketing relationships. Strategic partnering is a major part of a good IMC program. In addition to Internet and intranets (protected corporation information resource centers), progressive companies are creating extranets which link an enterprise’s extended family of suppliers, distributors, retailers, and partners. Hence, customer, channel, referral, and stakeholder relationships can all be nurtured through carefully conceived promotional efforts.

e)        Note that everything an organization does send a message. Image and atmospherics are very important in communicating value to customers. The little things, such as stationery, signage, telephone greetings, and website design, etc., should all reflect professionalism and a consistent message to the marketplace.

f)          Two-way dialogue is key. In an over-communicated society, the marketing challenge is to establish a meaningful dialogue with customers as to how the firm’s service mix can provide maximum benefits/value. Interactivity and involvement on the part of the customers is important for sharing information and creating firmer bonds. The Web is an ideal medium to accomplish this objective. Its selectivity and flexibility create a customized business experience for each user.

g)        Use 21st century communication technologies. In today’s changing marketplace, companies must seek new and better ways to stay in touch with their target markets. Appropriate communication options include e-mail, electronic commerce, fax-on-demand, telemarketing, point-of-sale promotion, special events, multimedia, etc.

h)        Measure promotional effectiveness. Traditionally, advertising executives competed with sales managers for their “fair share” of the corporate promotional budget. Today, management requires accountability and demands to know and justify the return on investment of limited resources—they will no longer accept the non-measurable communications methods used by marketers in the past. A marketing information system/database is the key tool for effectively monitoring and measuring the success of an IMC program. As part of this process, job descriptions and reward systems are likely to be redesigned. In a strong IMC-centered environment, in-house competition is replaced with cooperation and teamwork. Joint rewards help the organization do what is best, rather than just project individual turfs.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, Line of Sight

Knowledge Management: Sharing What is Known

One by one, employees learn what they need to know and develop areas of expertise that are called on when needed to perform a certain job. However, there are occasions in which somebody in an organization requires special expertise but doesn’t know how to find it within the company. When this occurs, the company may waste time and money by “reinventing the wheel,” developing expertise that already exists (if they only knew where to find it). In other cases, if the necessary expertise is not tapped or new expertise is not developed, then either something will get done improperly or it will not get done at all.

Acknowledging this situation, in recent years many companies have instituted what is known as knowledgement management programs. Knowledge management is defined as the process of gathering, organizing, and sharing a company’s information and knowledge assets. Typically, knowledgement programs involve using technology to establish repository databases and retreival systems. These are ways of using computers to sort through and identify the areas of expertise represented in the company—that is, its intellectual capital. But don’t misunderstand: Knowledgement relies on human skills for success. Computers merely organize what those skills are and where in the company they may be found. One-third of all companies and 80 percent of large multinational enterprises already have a knowledge management system in place, and most others expect to implement in the near future.

It’s important to note that simply having a knowledge management program does not ensure success. Employees also must use it, but too often they don’t. this is called knowing-doing gap—the tendency for employees to refrain from using the knowledge that’s available to them in the company, leading to poor performance. Although there are many possible reasons for not using a knowledge management system, the most dominant is the tendency for employees to be afraid of expressing their ideas (for fear of giving people in other parts of the company an advantage over them) or of seeking ideas from others (for fear of admitting that they don’t know something). Obviously, for knowledgement to be effective people in the company have to be willing to both donate and receive information. To ensure that their company’s knowledge resources are put to use, execuitives put various incentives in place to encourage the company’s many experts to add their expertise to the database and to encourage employees to use others’ expertise contained in the database. Given the success of the company’s system, it’s apparent that the knowing-doing gap may not be found in the company. In fact, on the heels of its success, similar systems need to be introduced in the company’s sales reps and its research and development unit.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, Line of Sight

Transaction-based Marketing Vs. Relationship Marketing

As marketing has entered the 21st Century, a significant change is taking place in the way companies interact with customers. The traditional view of marketing as a simple exchange process—a concept that might be termed transaction-based marketing—is being replaced by a different, longer-term approach.

Traditional marketing strategies focused on attracting consumers. The goal was to identify prospects, convert them to customers, and complete sales transactions. But today’s marketers realize that, although it remains important, attracting new customers is truly an intermediate step in the marketing process. Marketing efforts must focus on establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with existing customers. These efforts must expand to include suppliers and employees, as well.

The concept, called relationship marketing, refers to the development, growth, and maintenance of long-term, cost-effective exchange relationships with individual customers, suppliers, employees, and other partners for mutual benefits. It broaches the scope of external marketing relationships to include suppliers, customers, and referral sources. In relationship marketing, the term customer takes on a new meaning. Employees serve customers within an organization as well as outside it; individual employees and their departments are customers of and suppliers to one another. They must apply the same high standards of customer satisfaction to inter-departmental relationships as they do to external customer relationships. Relationship marketing recognizes the critical importance of internal marketing to the success of external marketing plans. Programs that improve customer service inside a company also raise productivity and staff morale, resulting in better customer relationships outside the firm.

Relationship marketing gives a company new opportunities to gain a competitive edge by moving customers up a loyalty hierarchy from new customers to regular purchasers, then to loyal supporters of the company and its goods and services, and finally to advocates who not only buy the  company’s products but recommend them to others. by converting indifferent customers into loyal ones, companies generate repeat sales. The cost of maintaining existing customers is far below the cost of finding new ones, and these loyal customers are profitable ones.

Effective relationship marketing relies heavily on information technologies such as computer databases that record customers’ tastes, price preferences, and lifestyles alongwith the increase of electronic communications. This technology helps companies become one-to-one marketers that gather customer-specific information and provide individually customized goods and services. The firms target their marketing programs to appropriate groups, rather than relying on mass-marketing campaigns. Companies who study their customers’ preferences and react accordingly gain distinct competitive advantages.

Firms in service industry, from retailers to hotels to airlines, are among the leaders in relationship marketing. Their staff members have many opportunities to meet customers personally and build loyalty and repeat business. Rewards for frequent buyers of a firm’s goods or services, such as hotel programs that reward frequent visitors with free room stays and other travel documents, are another form of relationship marketing.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, Line of Sight

Relationship-based Management

The four steps to moving your organization closer to a relationship based management program are:

  1. Segmentation
  2. Analyzing current behavior
  3. Developing strategy to achieve target behaviors
  4. Behavior maintenance.

By behavior I mean the buying or other behaviors of a customer, in relationship to the organization and its products and services.

In beginning the process it is probably worth taking time to do an audit of all the systems, information, research, marketing knowledge, attractiveness, historical results from promotions and any other additional sources of data that may exist in your organization.

Customer relationship management requires a holistic approach so that the infortmation that is held about customers across the organization is drawn together in one central source or at least cross-accessed so that it can be compiled and collated. For example: information is probably held at an accounting level about customer transactions and appended to that may be a payment record. A different computer system may hold results of marketing activity for different customers or different customer groups. Another database may actually hold information on customer service queries or enquiries – times they may have phoned or contacted you for some question or other. This information needs to be carefully scoped and drawn together.

This analysis is the first part of segmentation by behavior and value. The second stage is to begin an initial segmentation of a customer base. You should include the value, potential value and historical behavior of your customer. This should then be compared with the existing buying patterns and behavior and then contrasted, thirdly, with the future, or target behavior, of an ideal or loyal customer.

Every customer is in some way unique. However, many customers are unique in similar ways. There are practical steps that can be taken to segment customers by value, pattern, and buying criteria.

The next stage is to develop a strategy – a plan or a series of plans to attribute the target behavior to each segment or individual – and then to begin to allocate a budget for each of those behaviors. For example, if you had a mail order business marketing collectible antique replicas, you would identify the different customer segments in terms of their buying behaviors and in terms of how much they had spent in the past; the frequency, the types of products that they had been interested in and the mechanisms that they had responded to – whether that’s direct mail or off the page advertising, the internet etc. if you were then trying to increase the frequency of spend or the transaction value of the spend, this would become a target behavior that you would focus on.

The next stage is to look at the actual technology or systems that will allow you to achieve better relationship management with your customers. This may require some redesign or re-implementation of hardware and software to allow access to the information at a single point.

The final stage is management in the evolution of the process. There is always a matter of trial and error and trial and success. Before implementing a wide scale program it is essential that it is carefully tested on a small part of each segment of the customer base before being rolled out. Indeed by using customer relationship management methods in segmenting customers and customer groups more accurately, test marketing and test promotions can actually be far more accurately guaged and measured.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit, Line of Sight

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