IBM simplifies with e-brochures

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In a bid to make its technologies more accessible to its salespeople and clients, IBM Corp. is quietly launching a marketing program centered on interactive e-brochures.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based giant has started marketing e-brochures for its WebSphere Translation Server and configurator products, and is considering using them for other business lines as well.

The e-brochures contain streaming audio and Flash graphics, and are being delivered mostly via e-mail. The idea, said Ed Zinnes, marketing manager of IBM Voice, is to make complicated technologies more accessible by placing them in an easy-to-understand marketing platform.

IBM is keen on using the e-brochures to help users get beyond the arcane technical nature of its products, which can be hard to explain offline.

Big Blue is sending e-brochures directly to clients and resellers; it’s also encouraging resellers to use them in their own marketing efforts. "Our challenge is to communicate this to our partners," Zinnes said.

E-brochures get around

IBM is having its direct sales reps use the e-brochures during calls, sending them out in direct e-mail marketing campaigns and passing them out on CD-ROMS at trade shows.

IBM has been using e-brochures to market its WebSphere Translation Server, which allows for real-time translations between languages, including English, German and Chinese. The product is tailored for b-to-b usage, translates between 200 and 500 words per second and can be fine-tuned to include slang.

IBM had marketed the WebSphere Translation Server mostly offline. Beginning in February, though, it began using e-brochures, developed with Norwalk, Conn.-based Mentor Communications Group, to target resellers and clients. "It’s an animated way of getting a message across," Zinnes said.

Zinnes declined to supply the number of sales that IBM attributes to e-brochure usage.

At least one IBM watcher said its use of e-brochures makes good marketing sense. "There are a lot of people in the marketplace who buy technology without really understanding it," said Robert Kahn, CEO of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives and the inventor of open-architecture networking, a predecessor to the Internet.

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