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Guaranteeing the speedy flow of marketing information to channel partners and folks in the field is just good business sense. Making sure everyone's reading from the same page eliminates bumps and drags in communication and ultimately translates to better customer service and higher revenues.

Trouble is, according to Promptu Vice President of Marketing Jon Klein, the current processes that attempt to ensure the transfer of information are broken- -or never existed in the first place.

"The crux of what we're doing is focusing on how marketing is communicating and working with sales channels and customers," Klein says. "If you look at today's environment and think about how fast things are changing, there's more competition than ever. There are a set of things marketing has to do more effectively."

But, he adds, "What we've seen from our customers is that the current processes for those things are broken. That's really where our product comes in. We offer a hosted application designed especially to solve the problems of how marketing works with sales channels and customers."

Promptu, an application service provider founded in March 1999, seeks to solve the problem with eMarketing- -its marketing and sales delivery system. eMarketing puts pertinent documents on a Web-based network that internal and external users can access through a Web browser, thus speeding the flow of information from marketers to sales reps, channel partners and customers.

But eMarketing doesn't bog down users with more information than they can handle. The system creates portals that are customized to individual users. These portals ensure that users have access only to information that is pertinent to them. All of an organization's marketing information, from HTML to image files to graphics and news links, can be accessed through eMarketing. Not only does this system guarantee the fast flow of information, Klein explains, it also allows the organization to send targeted, personalized information to customers and prospects.

Portal Tools
The portals also give users a specific set of tools based on their roles and responsibilities. Marketing professionals can run e-mail campaigns, manage projects and launches, create field programs and capture feedback using eMarketing, while sales personnel and channel partners can modify information on customers and prospects and can run demand generation programs.

The 2.0 version of eMarketing, released June 19, includes new features like a publishing wizard that makes it easy for field staff and others with minimal training to post content on the Web.

Another feature new to 2.0 is a launch manager, which helps coordinate new product launches, including deliverables like data and pricing sheets. The feature tracks deadlines and sends alerts and notifications to appropriate personnel to ensure that everything is in place by launch time.

Wireless Support
Also new to version 2.0 is a Palm support feature, which allows access to the system through Palm computing platforms; CD-ROM services, which allows companies to order up CDs with information from hosted eMarketing materials; a survey manager that allows marketing professionals to create and distribute Web-based surveys for immediate feedback on campaigns; and e-commerce APIs to let customers gain immediate access to necessary information and purchase products online.

Implementation can be accomplished in about six weeks. "As an ASP, our goal is to deliver to our customers a whole solution," Klein says. "We'll handle the headaches so our customers can focus on marketing."

Web Work
Dionex, a manufacturer of analytical instrumentation based in Sunnyvale, Calif., was looking for someone to redo its Web site when it hit on Promptu, explains Michele Boudreau, the company's Internet marketing manager. Today, the company uses eMarketing to run its public Web site and an employee intranet that puts marketing and other information directly into the hands of its field force.

"Our Web site runs off eMarketing software and basically that's the underlying application," she says. "Once we got that in place, we decided to establish an employee intranet site using the same software, so it was easy to maintain both sites. We have the two things going now, and we are continuing to expand the uses we have."

Dionex has used eMarketing for about a year and recently expanded the system's use when it launched an international version of its Web site at the end of July. "We're training people to use the software, then we're expanding the employee intranet as well as covering the different areas, so both sites will keep growing," Boudreau says.

She cites the ease of Promptu's system as a contributing factor to Dionex's continued loyalty. "It's so easy to develop a Web page," she says, "so we can get lots of people involved in creating their own pages."

eMarketing has helped "decentralize the Web work," Boudreau says, thus allowing her department to focus on other things. For instance, Dionex's Web page contains an extensive job openings section that can attract dozens of job applications every day. Using eMarketing, a human resources employee can be trained to maintain the job openings portion of the site instead of Boudreau.

Plus, having all the marketing information easily accessible across the organization is saving both time and money, she says.

Access Advantage
One clear cost saving associated with Promptu's system is the amount of money it saved Dionex in the cost of manufacturing CD-ROMs alone. "[Creating CDs] was becoming a very efficient way for us to do things," she says, "because you can put lots of information in one place and send it out to the field. The problem is, CDs cost money. But with the employee intranet, there's no additional cost involved. Each time you put content up there, you achieve the same goal [as the CD], but you don't have to add another hit to the budget."

But the amount of time eMarketing saves the organization is an even bigger return on investment, Boudreau says. "It makes our business more effective, and it's hard to put numbers on that," she says. "There is a monetary savings, but one of the main advantages is the time savings. With Promptu software, we can post things to the Web as they're available, and we can get things out in a much more timely fashion."

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