Day-Timers Debuts New Programs

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More than 50 years after it launched its classic paper appointment books, Day-Timers Inc., Allentown, PA, is about to offer a series of training programs to help busy people cope with some of the more time-consuming tools of today's workplace: communication technologies.


The "Taming Technology" video series includes a program on managing voice mail and one on managing e-mail. They represent the company's latest step toward offering time-management solutions for workers whose time is becoming increasingly valuable. The videos are among the company's first technology-oriented products in the time-management instruction arena and complement its electronic organizers and organizational software.


The products are the newest offering from the company's Center for Productivity Training, which conducts research on programs to make people more efficient, offers professional training seminars and sells time-management videos, CD-ROMs and Internet programs.


"This is our first major upgrade for working with technology," said center director Jeff Titchenal. Several years ago, the center added more programs about coping with working in teams in response to a trend in the market.


The decision to add programs specifically aimed at helping people manage technology came about after reviewing several studies, including one conducted by the Gallup Organization, which showed that 71 percent of the people surveyed felt overwhelmed by the amount of messages they received, Titchenal said. Other survey respondents said they were interrupted from their work three times an hour by various technologies.


Each Taming Technology program includes a 30-minute video which, when viewed in conjunction with an accompanying workbook, takes an hour and a half to complete.


The videos offer tips on making technology more efficient for both an individual and a member of a work team. For example, the program suggests that an individual can save time using technology by screening voice mail.


"The average voice mail takes a minute to listen to, the average call takes five minutes. You can save 10 to 15 minutes a day," Titchenal said.


Meanwhile, leaving a detailed outgoing voice mail greeting every day takes a few more minutes for a member of a group than for the individual but saves his or her colleagues time by helping keep them abreast of daily schedules.


The technologies series is being offered initially through video, mainly because the programs are simple enough that a professional trainer is not necessary. However, a general switch in the time-management instructional area from in-house training programs to videos, CD-ROMs and other products is under way.


"We find that people have less and less time and want to learn when it's convenient for them, not when it's convenient for us to teach it to them," Titchenal said.


The series will be available in the company's April catalog. The company will promote it through direct mail to corporate and independent trainers, its Web site and a public relations campaign. Titchenal said it is too early to assess how well the products will be received, but feedback from early promotion efforts has been positive.


"We've gotten a lot of response from people saying, 'What took so long,' " he said.


Day-Timers has been increasingly targeting hi-tech customers by launching and expanding its Web site and by offering technological products.


The Web site, which was launched in spring 1996, was expanded to include the company's catalog in October, said Allen Abbott, vice president and general manager for direct marketing. Two-thirds of the company's Internet customers come from its existing customer base, and the remainder found the site.


The company began offering organizational software several years ago and has since modified its software to make it compatible with popular electronic organizers, such as Palm Pilots, which are sold in the catalog along with its traditional paper products.


The technology products have attracted the attention of customers inside and outside the company's housefiles, Abbott said.


"We've gotten a lot of favorable press on the software and other products," he said. "Some customers are people who are just inclined to use technological solutions but haven't used Day-Timers products before, and others are long-term Day-Timers product users hoping to make a switch to newer technology."


More instructional hi-tech products are in the pipeline.


"We're continuing to study and look for technological solutions for best serving the client," Abbott said.
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