Reports From the Media Frontiers

  • by October 24, 2002
CRMMore Than An Acronymby Amy Corr, Long gone are the days when you could get by with only "RON," "CPC," and "CPA" in your online advertising acronym repertoire. Today, everyone who’s anyone is talking about CRM. But, as a recent survey shows, not everyone understands the true meaning of the acronym. So what exactly is CRM?

Resource marketing company Reveries recently found that advertising professionals think the acronym stands for everything from Customer Relationship Management to Customer Relationship Marketing, Continuous Retention Marketing, Customer Retention Management, and the list goes on.

Which is it? Reveries says the majority of survey respondents (59%) think CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, so let’s all agree to settle on that and move on. It gets better. The same Reveries survey found that the definitions of CRM fall into two distinctive categories: tracking consumer behavior to develop a relationship between the consumer and a company’s brand, and developing software to provide one-on-one customer service between the company and the customer.

Tim McHale, former chief media officer at Tribal DDB, now CEO of Underscore Marketing LLC, says that CRM is much more than managing a database and keeping consumers happy. He says that CRM is actually an umbrella term that six basic functions fall under: enterprise resource management, relationship marketing, knowledge management, customer service/support, supply chain management and sales force automation.

Wahlstrom Interactive’ Western U.S. Manager Kevin M. Ryan considers CRM to be a three-tiered structure, with the lowest tier being a simple, cost-effective list builder/campaign manager (accomplished with a third party online interface for pennies a day) designed for small- to mid-size businesses. The highest tier could be made up of globally synched databases that "speak" to each other about a company’s customer behaviors or buying habits.

"The process of shaping a CRM solution includes a detailed needs assessment and educational process," Ryan says. "Otherwise you may end up watching in horror as a large client invests greatly in attempting to retool a decade-old internal email system for simple customer communications, or settling on an inappropriate low end solution. Ultimately, it boils down to the two age-old questions: how much can you invest and what do you hope to achieve?"

WirelessTalk and Trash: Disposable Cell Phonesby Amy Corr, The wireless industry is in the midst of overcoming a rough first half of the year. Sales projections have been slashed, Moody’s downgraded the whole industry’s outlook to negative, and rumors are swirling that several wireless companies may merge, despite an unsteady economy and lack of funds for acquisitions. Nevertheless, two companies are launching disposable cell phones and projecting imminent success.

New Horizons Technologies will launch its disposable cell phone, the Cyclone, later this month. Don’t expect to find these at your local Radio Shack. These phones will be sold at grocery stores, convenience stores, and variety stores for $39.95 (including 30 minutes of airtime). Steven Romeo, VP sales and marketing for New Horizons, says that 3.4 million phones have already been pre-ordered, yet the company is shipping out just 20,000 phones in September with the intention of increasing that number over time. Using just one third of the parts of an average cell phone, the Cyclone will target the phone card market and those whom Romeo calls "credit-challenged" — people who can’t afford the high prices and commitment of a cell phone.

So how does this "disposable" phone work, you ask? Duracell partnered with New Horizons on the Cyclone phone, so every phone comes equipped with a Duracell battery. After your minutes are used up, you can either add more minutes to your phone (with rates ranging from 35 to 40 cents a minute), or send the phone back to the company, which will recycle it and send you a $5 rebate. Interestingly enough, the Cyclone phone will give you service in remote areas (since it is battery-operated and not reliant on an antenna to "locate" service), and in case of emergencies, 911 can be dialed even if the phone was never activated.

Another company, Hop-On, recently received FCC approval for its version of a disposable cell phone (the Cyclone was approved three months ago). Hop-On plans to sell its disposable phone for $40, which includes one hour of phone time. Hop-On’s battery is rechargeable, and the cell phones are hands-free and come equipped with an earpiece/ microphone.

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