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Focused Marketing Makes the Difference

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Discovering the right marketing mix and knowing customers ‘inside out’ boosts sales a whopping 300% annually.

Building a better mousetrap won’t necessarily catch consumers by itself. You still have to use the right kind of cheese to draw them to it.

When ETrue.com, a Wellesley, Mass.-based provider of personal-identification technology, set out to promote its face-recognition system, it first launched a direct-mail campaign. Unfortunately, there were no bites.

A Direct-Mail Flop

"We had very poor response with direct mail," says CEO Michael Kuperstein, who founded ETrue.com (formerly Miros Inc.) in 1994. "We did it once and never again."

In analyzing the campaign flop, Kuperstein determined that direct mail works best for commodity products that already exist, but not for emerging products like his company’s TrueFace system, which scans human faces via a camera mounted on a computer and uses security software to allow access to computers, ATMs or secured areas. "You’ve got to do much more of an explanation, and that’s tough with direct mail," notes Kuperstein. "People look for three seconds, and if they can’t figure out the product, they throw the piece away."

Another problem was that some people thought the product was so futuristic that they didn’t believe it really would work.

An Outlet for Explanation

ETrue refocused its marketing efforts to trade shows and industry organizations. These venues enabled longer explanations and live demonstrations to prospective customers — as well as media and corporate partners, who gave the product credibility. The TrueFace system received print space, and partners now include heavyweights such as Microsoft, Kodak and IBM.

Although sales picked up, the U.S. response was surprisingly lagging — 10 times lower than international sales, Kuperstein says. "People from abroad who came by our booths at trade shows made deals much more readily."

Back to the Drawing Board

After more research, the company determined that the more stress the customer’s culture is under — such as hostility, dictatorship or war — the greater the need for security. "Although we appear to be in the computer business, we’re really in the security business," Kuperstein explains. "There’s more of a need for security overseas."

Kuperstein’s lesson: "Know your customer inside out, and his or her culture as well. You should know your customers better than they know themselves in terms of what they need and want."

Kuperstein now reports an annual 300% sales increase in each of the past three years.

Writer: William Bike

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