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Computers and marketing

COMPUTERS AND MARKETING

Marketing is the process by which goods are sold and purchased. The aim of

marketing is to acquire, retain, and satisfy customers. Modern marketing has evolved into

a complex and diverse field. This field includes a wide variety of special functions such as

advertising, mail-order business, public relations, retailing and merchandising, sales,

market research, and pricing of goods.

Businesses, and particularly the marketing aspect of businesses, rely a great deal on the

use of computers. Computers play a significant role in inventory control, processing and

handling orders, communication between satelite companies in an organization, design and

production of goods, manufacturing, product and market analysis, advertising, producing

the company newsletter, and in some cases, complete control of company operations.

In today's extremely competitive business environment businesses are searching for

ways to improve profitability and to maintain their position in the marketplace. As

competition becomes more intense the formula for success becomes more difficult. Two

particular things have greatly aided companies in their quests to accomplish these goals.

They are the innovative software products of CAD/CAM and, last but not least, the World

Wide Web.

An important program has aided companies all over the world. Computer-aided design

and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) is the integration of two technologies. It

has often been called the new industrial revolution. In CAD, engineers and designers use

specialized computer software to create models that represent characteristics of objects.

These models are analyzed by computer and redesigned as necessary. This allows

companies needed flexibility in studying different and daring designs without the high

costs of building and testing actual models, saving millions of dollars. In CAM, designers

and engineers use computers for planning manufacturing processes, testing finished parts,

controlling manufacturing operations, and managing entire plants. CAM is linked to CAD

through a database that is shared by design and manufacturing engineers.

The major applications of CAD/CAM are mechanical design and electronic design.

Computer-aided mechanical design is usually done with automated drafting programs that

use interactive computer graphics. Information is entered into the computer to create

basic elements such as circles, lines, and points. Elements can be rotated, mirrored,

moved, and scaled, and users can zoom in on details. Computerized drafting is quicker

and more accurate than manual drafting. It makes modifications much easier.

Desktop manufacturing enables a designer to construct a model directly from data

which is stored in computer memory. These software programs help designers to consider

both function and manufacturing consequences at early stages, when designs are easily

modified.

More and more manufacturing businesses are integrating CAD/CAM with other

aspects of production, including inventory tracking, scheduling, and marketing. This idea,

known as computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM), speeds processing of orders, adds to

effective materials management, and creates considerable cost savings.

In addition to designing and manufacturing a product, a company must be effectively

able to advertise, market, and sell its product. Much of what passes for business is

nothing more than making connections with other people. What if you could passout your

business card to thousands, maybe millions of potential clients and partners? You can,

twenty four hours a day, inexpensively and simply on the World Wide Web. Firms

communicate with their customers through various types of media. This media usually

follows passive one-to-many communication where a firm reaches many current and

potential customers through marketing efforts that allow limited forms of feedback on the

part of the customer. For several years a revolution has been developing that is

dramatically changing the traditional form of advertising and communication media. This

revolution is the Internet, a massive global network of interconnected computer networks

which has the potential to drastically change the way firms do business with their

customers.

The World Wide Web is a hypertext based information service. It provides access to

multimedia, complex documents, and databases. The Web is one of the most effective

vehicles to provide information because of its visual impact and advanced features. It can

be used as a complete presentation media for a company's corporate information or

information on all of its products and services.

The recent growth of the world wide web (WWW) has opened up new markets and

shattered boundaries to selling to a worldwide audience. For marketers the world wide

web can be used to creat a client base, for product and market analysis, rapid information

access, wide scale information dissemination, rapid communication, cost-effective

document transfers, expert advise and help, recruiting new employees, peer communi-

cations, and new business opportunities. The usefullness of the Internet or WWW

depends directly on the products or services of each business. There are different benefits

depending upon the type of business and whether you are a supplier, retailer, or

distributor. Lets examine these in more detail.

Finding new clients and new client bases is not always an easy task. This process

involves a careful market analysis, product marketing and consumer base testing. The

Internet is a ready base of several million people from all walks of life. One can easily find

new customers and clients from this massive group, provided that your presence on the

internet is known. If you could keep your customer informed of every reason why they

should do business with you, your business would definitely increase. Making business

information available is one of the most inportant ways to serve your customers. Before

people decide to become customers, they want to know about your company, what you

do and what you can do for them. This can be accomplished easily and inexpensively on

the World Wide Web.

Many users also do product analyses and comparisons and report their findings via the

World Wide Web. Quite frequently one can find others who may be familiar with a

product that you are currently testing. A company can get first hand reports on the

functionality of such products before spending a great deal of money. Also, the large base

of Internet users is a principle area for the distribution of surveys for an analysis of the

market for a new product of service ideas. These surveys can reach millions of people and

potential clients with very little effort on the part of the surveyors. Once a product is

already marketed, you can examine the level of satisfaction that users have received from

the product. Getting customer feedback can lead to new and improved products.

Feedback will let you know what customers think of your product faster, easier and much

less expensively than any other market you may reach. For the cost of a page or two of

Web programming, you can have a crystal ball into where to position your product or

service in the marketplace.

Accessing information over the Internet is much faster on most occasions than

transmissions and transfers via fax or postal courier services. You can access information

and data from countries around the world and make interactive connections to remote

computer systems just about anywhere in the world. Electronic mail has also proved to be

an effective solution to the problem of telephone tag. Contacting others through email has

provided a unique method of communication which has the speed of telephone

conversations, yet still provides the advantages of postal mail. Email can be sent from just

about anywhere that there is an Internet service or access so that businessmen or travelers

can keep in touch with up to the minute details of the office.

Another benefit of the World Wide Web is wide scale information circulation. You can

place documents on the Internet and instantly make them accessible to millions of users

around the world. Hypertext documents provide an effective technique by which to

present information to subscribers, clients or the general public. Creating World Wide

Web documents and registering your site with larger Web sites improves the availability of

the documents to a client base larger, and cheaper, than the circulation of many major

newspapers and/or television medias. You may not be able to use the mail, phone system

and regulation systems in all of your potential international markets. With the World Wide

Web, however, you can open up a dialogue with international markets as easily as with the

company accross the street.

The Web is also more cost-effective than conventional advertising. Transferring on-

line documents via the Internet takes a minimal amount of time, saving a great deal of

money over postal or courier services which can also suffer late deliveries, losses or

damage. If a document transfer fails on the Internet, you can always try again since the

cost of the transfer is exactly the same. Current or potential clients are not lost due to late

or absent documents.

Beyond product and market analysis, there are a great number of experts on the

Internet who make their presence widely known and easily accessable. Quite often you

can get free advice and help with problems you might have from the same people you may

otherwise pay highly for their consulting services to large organizations, magazines, and

other periodicals. Researchers and business executives alike have attested to the fact that

much of their communications over the Internet are with others in their line of research or

field of work. Communicating with peers allows the sharing of ideas, problems and

solutions among themselves. Often people find that others in their field have already

created solutions for problems similar to their own. They are able to obtain advice on

their own situations and create a solution based upon this shared knowledge.

Many businessmen and conpanies are continuously on the look-out for new and

innovative ideas as viable business ventures. Internet users are continuously coming up

with such new ideas because of the available research the Internet offers and also because

of the cooperative atmosphere that surrounds the internet. In addition, the Internet has

many job lists and resumes online for prospective employers. New resumes are constantly

posted to the Web to inform companies of the availability of new skills.

As competition intensifies in the business world, consumers are faced with more and

more products and services to choose from. The future of business is being decided right

now in the minds and wallets of customers. The successful business and marketing

approach utilizes everything possible to insure that the choice the customer makes is to

choose their product or service. Computer technology is by far the most important and

impressive means by which to insure a company's success. Computers play a significant

role in every aspect of a company's survival, from product design and manufacturing,

creating client databases, inventory control , market analysis, advertising and sales, and

even total company operations.



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