PTC's Executive Seminar Mailings Are Ahead of the Class

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Parametric Technology Corp. is garnering a 5 percent response rate on a recent direct marketing campaign based on a new database marketing system.


The software company's campaign promoted some of its executive conferences. The events are used as a vehicle through which it markets its technology. PTC develops, markets, implements and supports software solutions that help manufacturers get their products to market.


PTC, Waltham, MA, holds seminars every two months. Marketing efforts include sending targeted direct mail invitations to its customer and prospect database, which includes about 80,000 names, addresses, titles, phone numbers and Web addresses of chief information officers, chief engineers and chief operating officers at manufacturing companies worldwide.


The company decided in late 1999 to change the way it organized its data and consolidated its disparate databases into one knowledgebase. It began using Aprimo Marketing, a marketing automation tool from Aprimo Inc., Indianapolis, that allows its customers to plan, implement and analyze marketing programs as well as collaborate with agencies and suppliers. Implementation of the system -- which also provides for upsell and cross-sell opportunities -- took less than six months.


PTC launched an executive marketing program last year based on the comprehensive database it built earlier in the year. PTC created a marketing database in order to send targeted mailings about the seminars to customers and prospects.


John Stuart, PTC's senior vice president of worldwide field marketing, said the mailings are receiving a 5 percent response rate. A mailing for a November seminar called Speed to Success produced an "exceptional" response, he said.


"We had 100 customers and prospects attend this particular event," Stuart said. "And we had a prospect attend who had no contact with our company before the event that signed a $1.6 million contract with us a week after the event. Before the program, our mailings were all technically one-off types of executive mailings. But what's changed with Aprimo is that now we have a targeted lead-management audience that we go after, and we are hitting them multiple times with an integrated marketing program.


"If you don't start with a good-quality database, you'll never get this far."


He anticipates that the new database system will be responsible for an increase in sales from $15 million to $30 million this year.


Mailings are not just one-shot postcards. PTC first sends an annual report about the company and possibly follows up several weeks later with a book by one of the speakers appearing at the seminar.


"Then we may invite them to a product seminar, and then send them an invitation to the seminar, and then a reminder postcard," Stuart said. "The campaign could also involve sending e-mail invitations to a topical Webcast and telemarketing. While there are about 50 different things we can do, we don't do all 50.We don't want them to feel like we are imposing on them."


Each effort generally involves between eight and 11 steps and runs for about eight months.


In 1999, PTC's marketing department experienced challenges in arranging the seminars. The difficulties resulted from the use of disparate databases and inconsistent lead and project management systems that the company had deployed. The marketing staff had to retrieve customer data from a field database and a corporate database, as well as venue information, graphics, invitations, budget information, calendar data and vendor data from different databases. Approximately 30 databases were being used.


"Some of the databases were based on Excel spreadsheets, others Filemaker Pro spreadsheets, and then there were also sales force automation databases and other types of databases," Stuart said.
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