*MarketSoft Targets 'Chaotic' BTB MarketeOffers

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MarketSoft Corp. is expected this week to begin touting software designed to help marketers navigate the "tremendously chaotic" realm of offline and online business-to-business promotions.


Citing shortcomings in technology built for marketers outside the more well-publicized but considerably smaller business-to-consumer market, MarketSoft hopes to tempt companies in the BTB and so-called "business-to-consumer considered-purchase" markets with technology slated for availability in the second quarter.


"There's a huge difference between technology needed to help a company like Amazon market on the Web and technology needed to help companies market" to other businesses and consumers making non-impulse buys, said Mike Grandinetti, vice president of marketing and business development at MarketSoft, Lexington, MA.


The company's new software, called eOffers, is meant to work with an existing product called eLeads. The technology is designed to help marketers pick which promotions to send to individual customers. The older software steers incoming leads to the right salespeople or marketing centers in the company.


Combined, the two packages are designed to help businesses set parameters on the various promotions and offers that a company's salespeople or businesses might send out individually. Sending mixed promotional signals is an especially big problem in the BTB space, where low-level people, high-level people, complex products and sometimes multiple companies all come into play.


"And they're all conflicting with one another. They're not coordinated. They're not coherent," Grandinetti said.


On the BTC side, MarketSoft plans to tout the technology to companies that sell goods that aren't impulse purchases, such as insurance policies or cars.


Grandinetti said that generally the quality and relevance of online offers and promotions have slipped as their numbers have increased. And repeated, unrelated prospecting efforts are not an effective way to sell goods, for example, that consumers need time to consider.


Of course, most online promotions and marketing services firms would disagree that offers are losing their relevance. Grandinetti conceded that in general, improving Web-based technology is making pitching goods online a more targeted undertaking.


"But I think what's happened in the past is that people are just barraging prospects, hoping they're going to beat them into submission and then at some point in a moment of weakness, they're going to succumb to an offer," he said.


A desire to avoid carpet-bombed, one-dimensional offers might help explain the growing trend among promotions companies to try to broaden the various media and approaches they use to help their clients reach their prospects.


"That's kind of the direction we're moving in," said Marcos Sanchez, director of brand marketing at iQ.com, Saratoga, CA. Formerly an "online promotions" company, iQ is moving toward selling more multifaceted campaigns, depending on whether its clients are most concerned with gathering new prospects, keeping them or turning them into buying consumers.


And iQ isn't alone. More than one online firm that formerly hung its whole identity on a single concept like "points," "sweepstakes" or "loyalty" is now trying to more broadly recast itself as a Web marketer or a direct marketer. And in Sanchez's view, it's for good reason.


"If they're not, they're either shooting themselves in the foot or they're hoping to get bought. The long-term viability of being so closely focused with one particular solution is not high," he said.


The eOffers product runs on a Web-based platform hosted by MarketSoft or third-party servers, starting at $25,000 a month. Alternately, the software can be licensed for $200,000, plus annual maintenance charges of 18 percent of that cost.
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