After Attacks, Compaq Sees Added Value in Online Seminars

Compaq Computer Corp.'s Global Services division sees its online seminars becoming a more valuable way to reach customers as a result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“Nowadays people are going to be much more willing to go online and view a seminar instead of traveling somewhere,” said Tom Green, e-business and Microsoft marketing manager for the division. “We are dealing with a special set of circumstances since Sept. 11 and companies are going to have a find way to deal with them.”

Compaq has been running four to five Web-based seminars a quarter for the past year and does not expect to increase that number. But Green thinks that more customers will now make use of the seminars.

“After the Sept. 11 attacks we canceled a multi-city national tour that was scheduled to take place shortly after that,” Green said. “We did something Web-based instead and it turned to be more cost- and time-effective for both us and prospects. By running seminars online it allows us to cast a much wider net.”

Other than the safety benefits, Green said the online seminars allow Compaq to provide expert speakers to people and companies in parts of the country that would be unable to travel to attend a one-day seminar in a city.

“The benefit of running a Web-based seminar is that we can reach a much larger audience at one time,” he said. “Some markets are small and hard to get the right speakers to, this way we can get the right speaker in front of the right crowd in a much easier fashion.”

Compaq works with iNvision, a provider of Web-based direct marketing services, to develop the seminars.

For each seminar, Compaq sent out 25,000 e-mails. Green said the names come from a list of current Compaq customers or one provided by iNvision.

“Typically we will use our lists because we know who our customers are and what they are interested in,” Green said. The average number of responses for each e-mail campaign is around 1,000. Green said from the 1,000 respondents typically 500 to 600 people will attend.

Green said the goal of the seminars is to discuss customer needs. Attendees see one to three presentations made by experts. Information from industry analysts is also provided. There also is discussion of what Compaq products and services are available to meet customer needs and an explanation of what it takes to implement the available technology.

“With a lot of companies cutting back costs they don't have the resources necessary or the people inhouse to help them upgrade to a new solution,” Green said. “We provide our services as either a long-term or short-term supplement to them allowing the company to focus on business-related issues and not technology-based issues.”

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