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A marketing model for high-end software.

Unlike most software marketers these days, Business Matters president Jeremy Davis doesn't spend much time thinking about how to break into mass market channels. The target market for Cashe, a complex new financial modeling program, is a small but well-heeled segment--corporate CFOs and financial consultants--who aren't likely to check the shelves of Egghead or CompUSA for a $995 business tool. "I don't know if we'll ever market Cashe as a retail product," Davis says.

Instead, Business Matters has designed a successful direct sales model that, seven months after the product's launch, has landed Cashe in more than 2,000 companies. And the pace seems to be picking up: Business Matters just inked a deal with Coopers & Lybrand for at least a thousand more copies of Cashe. "We came into the market with a completely unknown product last year," says Davis, band we're already getting terrific word of mouth."

Much of the Cashe strategy comes straight out of the direct sales textbooks--heavy spending on direct mail (60% of the company's marketing budget), followed by personal calls from the eight-person Business Matters telesales group. But Business Matters has refined the classic direct sales model in several interesting ways. Davis recently shared a few of these innovations with us:

* Don't offer "evaluation copies": Originally, Business Matters gave prospective buyers a 30-day trial period to evaluate Cashe and decide whether the software worked as promised. A few months ago the company made a small but crucial change in its trial offer: Customers are now asked to provide a credit card or purchase order up front, with a guarantee that the software will be fully returnable and that Business Matters won't process the transaction for a month. The result: The conversion rate for Cashe trials has jumped from 50% to a hefty 70%. Even though customers haven't handed over any real money, says Davis, they now feel a greater sense of urgency about making a decision. "We used to have people call us up at the end of 30 days and ask for another month, and then call for another month after that. At some point you have to look the customer dead in the eye and ask for payment."

* Take the initiative on support calls: Business Matters doesn't wait for customers to call its help line--instead, new customers get a friendly call asking if they need any help installing or setting up Cashe, and they're encouraged to call back if they run into any problems. "These calls build incredible relationships with customers," says Davis, "and they've helped us win over people we thought were a lost cause." Demonstrating the quality of Cashe support to buyers who are still evaluating the product also helps discourage piracy, he adds, because they realize they won't get ongoing support for an illegal copy.

* Create high-value continuity services: In addition to building relationships through high-quality tech support, says Davis, Business Matters has begun building a subscription business based on reselling financial data and industry benchmarks. Cashe users currently pay $295 a year for data from Robert Morris Associates; they'll soon be able to use Cashe to download data electronically from Dun & Bradstreet, Coopers & Lybrand, and other proprietary services. These add-on subscription services aren't just impulse sales, Davis points out: They substantially enhance the usefulness of Cashe itself. "When a CFO can pick two or three specific competitors and compare his own numbers against them, you've added terrific new value."

* Don't get hung up on the pricing message: Cashe's current $995 price is "a weird price point," Davis admits. "It's probably not high enough or low enough." But Davis doesn't see Cashe's price as a critical part of the product's overall high-end positioning. Instead, he plans to test different prices until he discovers pragmatically what price point works best with customers. "We're happy to go much lower if we get the extra volume," he says.

Jeremy Davis, president, Business Matters, 800 South St., Waltham, Mass. 02154; 617/899-8700. E-mail:
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Title Annotation:Product Information; Business Matters plots marketing strategy for Cashe financial modeling software
Date:Feb 29, 1996
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