Gore is Vice President of Praxis International, Inc.
Technical Training, Consulting, and Publishing since 1988
Fast Start -The MaraStar Story Continues
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In the February 28th column, Ray Hansell and
Marysue Lucci, founders of RHM Teleservices, shared some valuable
success lessons for high-tech entrepreneurs. At that time, they were
about to begin marketing innovative animated training and communications
programs developed by MaraStar Communications, the new company they
launched in 1999 from their Paoli offices. We promised to follow their
progress as they applied their success principles to their new venture.
Two of Ray and Marysue's success principles are that
"your idea must have intrinsic worth and provide value added
services" and "establish the need for your product." The
idea on which MaraStar is built is to give companies and organizations
the content and the means to send 30 second animated training and
motivation e-mail messages to employees to enhance their job skills,
boost morale and provide job recognition tools.
"E-mail is the fastest growing communication media
in history, yet market offerings for employee communications and
training that take advantage of this delivery mechanism are
underdeveloped," say Marysue and Ray. "On the one hand,
e-learning alternatives severely underutilize the visual and audio
potential of electronic media and thus limit the effectiveness of their
training tools. On the other hand, traditional employee communications
companies continue to offer their products through the same distribution
channels they have used for more than fifty years. We felt there was a
major opportunity to provide value added services in the e-learning area
by developing products that would fill an unmet need." Research by
W. R. Hambrecht, a leading investment advisor in e-learning, supports
this view. Hambrecht estimates the market size for e-learning in 2000
was about $1 billion and will grow to $11.4 billion by 2004.
success principle is "conduct market research and act
accordingly." Ray and Marysue developed their flagship products,
ToonUps ™ and StarGrams ™, based on extensive market research
results. "Our market research, which included focus groups and
in-depth interviews targeted to corporate users, told us these are the
tools managers have been looking for to improve employee
performance," says Ray.
"Managers in the focus groups and interviews said
ToonUps ™ and StarGrams ™ are more effective than traditional
training and motivation products such as videos, pamphlets and posters
because they are delivered directly to the employee's desktop, are
entertaining and humorous, and they are quick," emphasizes Marysue.
ToonUps ™ are skill-based animated e-mail training
messages designed to improve job performance and quality and reduce
turnover. Some of the topics covered by ToonUps ™ include
communications skills, telephone skills, quality control, selling
skills, customer care, and work habits. Beyond sending ToonUps ™ as
e-mail messages, employers can use them to support training programs and
they can enlarge and print them for use as display posters, thereby
providing continuity and reinforcement. The result is increased
effectiveness of the training.
StarGrams ™ are motivation-based e-mail messages.
StarGrams ™ can be used to welcome new employees, to recognize
achievement, to celebrate birthdays and other occasions, to encourage,
and to announce special events. Like ToonUps ™, StarGrams ™ can be
printed and the message can also be easily customized. Both products are
so innovative that patents are pending.
The ToonUps ™ and StarGrams ™ CD includes a
comprehensive Users' Guide containing ideas on how best to use ToonUps
™ and StarGrams ™ to improve results. Also included are five Course
Guides that provide recommended training implementation structures for a
series of ToonUp ™ training modules. The Users' Guide and the Course
Guides can be combined and printed to make a complete Leaders' Guide for
training seminar purposes.
Another success principle Marysue and Ray shared is
that "the sales and marketing functions, which have existed for
years in many industries, add value." Unlike companies that conduct
their entire business on the Internet, Ray and Marysue also use a
variety of direct mail and telemarketing processes in their sales and
marketing efforts. This approach enables them to stay in close touch
with their client base.
As the first step in the sales and marketing process,
MaraStar mails postcards to business executives inviting them to
download a free demo at http://www.marastar.com
or to call 1-866-TOONUPS toll free to request a free demo CD.
MaraStar communications consultants follow-up by telephone with the
business executives who have downloaded or requested the free CD. As
part of the marketing strategy, the communications consultant suggests
that the executive log on to the website during the phone call. This
innovative approach of combining the power of the Internet with the
personal sales approach adds value for the customer. The strategy has
proven itself to be very effective. MaraStar keeps detailed performance
statistics showing number of calls made, number of repeat visitors to
the website, and number of times a sale is made.
In the short time since its official product launch in
March, MaraStar has already landed such major corporate clients as
Kimberly Clark and Brother International Corporation. Marysue Lucci and
Ray Hansell have indeed applied success principles they used to build
one business to launch a new, successful business in the high-tech world
of the 21st Century.
The Greg Gore Web Site on Computers and the Internet (www.GregGore.com)
column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on May
23, 2001. Greg Gore can be reached at gg@GregGore.com.
2009 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.