Engineering and marketing
their worlds run together
by Joe McFadden, PMP, and Dan McAllister
Photo courtesy of TouchTunes Music Corp.
The TouchTunes Digital Jukebox
6A.M. DAN AND I run together when we can get our schedules to match. Most mornings Dan sets the pace for the hilly run and I do my best to keep up. When our run stops, like most people, we each begin a race in a different direction. I rush off to the world of construction litigation and scheduling consulting, while Dan dashes off to the world of … marketing jukeboxes. What?
That's what I said about two years ago when Dan and I first met. Dan had just come back from a trip to the Czech Republic. He said that he was in sales and marketing of jukeboxes and had just finished a tour of Europe and some Soviet Bloc countries. I could not fathom people in Soviet Bloc countries buying jukeboxes, particularly with the political and economic turmoil that seemed prevalent in the news. I told my wife that he must be in the Central Intelligence Agency working deep cover.
Since then I've had the pleasure to learn more about the marketing profession and the struggles my friend Dan faces every day. In many ways I envy his challenges, but I can also see the risk. (I've also become very familiar with the jukebox Dan markets, and I'm impressed every time I have an opportunity to operate it.)
Dan, director of sales for TouchTunes Music Corp. (TTMC), is launching the first Digital Downloading Jukebox. Amazing to operate and hear, the product is fully operational through the touchscreen interface and does not contain any compact discs, tapes or vinyl. The songs are stored on a hard drive within the CPU. The jukebox is tied into a central computer with 50,000+ additional songs available for download. The client specifies which songs to download and the computer ties in after business hours to complete the operation. The client can then pick any number of songs off any artist's release. Traditionally; it's difficult to get new compact discs for a jukebox because of the expense of providing 10 not-so-popular songs for the two songs you really desire. That's why TTMC has been establishing agreements with record labels to provide songs on an individual basis to its clients. Throw BOSE into the picture for sound quality, and you've got a state-of-the-art machine. The idea makes so much sense—the challenge is getting people to buy into it.
Joe McFadden, PE, PMP, is a senior engineer for Capital Project Management Inc., a construction litigation and scheduling consulting firm in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. He assists law firms, contractors and owners in construction claims development or defense, and also provides CPM scheduling services on construction projects in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Dan McAllister is director of sales for TouchTunes Music Corp., headquartered in Illinois.
Exhibit 1. By making the marketing activity part of the corporate process, TTMC emphasizes the importance of marketing a new product and focuses other departments in supporting the marketing effort.
Dan acknowledges that when any company tries to introduce new ideas into a well-established market they face both simple and complex obstacles. TouchTunes is faced with the difficulties of introducing new technology as well as overcoming and fostering change.
“Our challenge is not only in asking customers to use a product they are unfamiliar with, but also in asking them to use a business model they have never used before. Inertia is, many times, the most difficult hurdle to overcome and this is certainly no different with TouchTunes,” he says.
“How does a young unknown company with a new product overcome these obstacles? We could throw the proverbial stuff against the wall and hope it sticks. We could hire a group of slick-talking, golf-club-toting, egotistical salesmen to sweet-talk people into using our product. These are all approaches that have been tried in the past, with varying degrees of success. We, at TTMC, haven't taken this approach in introducing our product.
“We decided to use a more predictable and measurable process to manage this project. Military strategists have used this process-oriented approach to war for hundreds of years. They start with a high-level goal—win the war, conquer evil, liberate the oppressed—then implement specific strategies. Each strategy is supported by a group of tactics. Most strategies and their associated tactics cross different branches within the military. In order to succeed, each branch has to coordinate its efforts in the same direction. They need to understand how one affects the other and where each fits into the process of each strategy. If they are disjointed in their approach it becomes almost impossible to achieve the ultimate goal.
“Before deciding on a common goal and supporting strategies it is important to understand the characteristics that all innovative products follow when they are introduced into a new market. The model for any new market follows a bell-shaped curve. That curve is made up of four segments: 3-4 percent Innovators, 14-18 percent Early Adopters, 65 percent Main Market, and the rest Market Laggards. It is important to understand this because each of these segments within this cycle has specific and important characteristics. In order to market our product effectively we need to be using the right strategy and process suitable to the characteristics of each segment. With a good understanding of how new markets behave, we are able to set our goal(s) and devise our strategy.
“TouchTunes has a common goal: Be the market leader in the music-on-demand jukebox industry. We have developed a series of strategies supported by sales and marketing tactics. Although we have developed specific strategies, we have often struggled with the coordination of these strategies between departments. It has been my experience that this coordination is one of the most challenging issues we face as professionals today. The simple reason is that most departments are ill prepared in their ability to communicate effectively with one another. In simple terms, they speak a different language: engineers, accountants and the like are process- and measurement-oriented; salespeople are feelings- and emotion-oriented. Most sales departments refuse to learn and understand process and measurability. Most engineers do not understand the emotions of the customer. In order to overcome these problems we decided to act entirely out of character and buck this trend. Our goal as a sales department and company is to be process-oriented. By accomplishing this goal we allow ourselves to measure progress and identify problem areas quickly and efficiently. In order to do this, we needed to have our entire company on the same page.” (See Exhibit 1.)
Customer Problem Flow
Exhibit 2. Typically within the corporate environment, customer issues get lost in the communication between customer support and other departments. TTMC is committing all departments to completing the communication loop in resolving the customer issues.
“We started by getting violent agreement across departments on several key questions. Why would any potential customer want to do business with our company? What benefits do we provide that our competitors do not? What is the foundation that our business is built on? Once we had agreement on these questions we mapped our entire process out for everyone to analyze. The result is a solid understanding of what each department is responsible for in driving our business. We became customer-focused instead of inwardly focused. What does this do for us? If we run into problems with sales or customer satisfaction we can refer to our process map and find out where things are breaking down. This allows us to reduce the amount of time our customers wait for problem resolution. It also gives everyone an understanding or focus of what should be worked on at any one given moment. This concept spans every department within TouchTunes.” (See Exhibit 2, Customer Problem Flow.)
“By accomplishing this we are able to reduce our cycle time throughout our company. Most people view cycle time reduction as it relates to the R&D and manufacturing process. However, cycle time reduction is a concept that can be applied to corporate strategy and process. Specifically, we wanted to reduce the cycle time of gathering of information, making a decision on the information and then implementing the decision. We also wanted to reduce the cycle time to customer responsiveness. By accomplishing cycle time reduction in these areas we are able to increase the speed at which we capture market share.”
TRADITIONALLY THE FLOW of information is from Marketing to Engineering. Engineers and project management professionals are continually being instructed on ways to improve their marketing abilities. But, as the corporate structure evolves, marketing professionals are finding that the systems instituted by project managers are beneficial in focusing the company on the customer's needs. Marketing professionals are in the unique position of serving as the first communication link to the buyer. In many cases they are the first to receive feedback, positive or negative, on the seller's performance. They have the opportunity to see their own company's shortcomings through the customer's eyes and help change the corporate structure.
Reader Service Number 012
PM Network September 1999