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Management: Leading Publisher Enjoys Benefits of CRM


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Leading publisher enjoys benefits of CRM

8 Ink Media publishes Seventeen Magazine, National Geographic Kids and Real Simple for the South African market. The company is five years old and is jointly owned by Media 24, the largest publisher of consumer magazines in South Africa.

Business need

Two years ago 8 Ink Media identified the need for a database to enhance management of their advertisers and of Seventeen magazine’s Urban Scouts programme, which involves over 13,000 South African girls and young women between 13 and 24. The Scouts, who volunteer via Seventeen’s website, fill out regular brief surveys to identify trends in the youth market. In return, they receive regular product samples and gift packages.

The Scouts database is of great value to the magazine’s advertisers, but 8 Ink found it difficult and time-consuming to access. All information was processed through the magazine’s website content management system (CMS), to which staff did not have easy access. “We constantly had to go back to our web service provider to get information, even for a simple thing like getting all the Scout’s birthdays,” says 8 Ink’s associate publisher and CRM administrator Dene Strain.

To make matters worse, survey results had to be sent to a third party for capturing – once more making the information time-consuming and difficult to access.

Information about the company’s 600-odd advertisers was equally inaccessible. Sales staff kept their contacts in spreadsheets which were not shared.  This created two problems: first, turnover among sales staff tends to be high and people would regularly leave with all their contact information. Second, although each title has a different advertiser base, there are times when the same company might advertise in two publications – but with information not shared, sales staff did not know this and could not coordinate their communication.

Strain and her colleagues also wanted some way to understand the dynamics of their constantly shifting market more easily. Knowledge about the relationships between media planners, media buyers, PR agencies and ad agencies would help 8 Ink co-ordinate its efforts and provide better service to its customers.
Solution and Results

8 Ink’s web service provider proposed an upgraded CMS, but the company decided it was too expensive, too complex and didn’t provide everything that was required.

After a demo of Microsoft Dynamics CRM by Liquid Thought, Executive Director, Sam Sneddon wanted to see more. Having been involved with the Urban Scouts programme from the beginning, Sneddon saw the potential in a system that would offer faster, more flexible access to the programme’s data.

“It was an obvious choice for us because it offered an integrated solution to the three separate issues we were experiencing: a customer database, a sales forecasting tool and research management system. It was the most cost-effective solution, it required minimal training and we loved the convenience of it working through Outlook, a tool we use every day,” says Sneddon.

Implemented in September 2007, Microsoft Dynamics CRM now captures Urban Scout data from the website’s CMS every 40 minutes, giving 8 Ink staffers direct, easy access to details, with the ability to generate their own reports at will. “Previously I had no idea who they were,” says Strain. “Now we have excellent, detailed information for our market research team.” Birthday greetings are now sent automatically on every member’s birthday, and it is easy to invite targeted groups to workshops and other events.

Survey results are also now more quickly and easily available. Scouts complete their surveys via a new email platform, from which they are directly sent both to the CRM system and to the website’s CMS so user points can be updated.  When surveys are completed, sent via pMailer bulk email platform, there is no longer a need for data capture as all three systems – CMS, CRM and pMailer, are integrated.

For the advertising sales teams, Microsoft CRM has proved similarly useful, particularly because of its integration with Outlook, which everyone was already using daily.  Managers can now easily see the status of sales activities in CRM and are able to closely monitor what is going on.  And with all contacts, opportunities and “hit lists” shared, information is never lost when sales team members leave the company.

8 Ink’s marketing, PR and events team has also benefited.  In the past trying to coordinate invitations for events through multiple spreadsheets was a nightmare, with information being out of date almost immediately after being updated: “We actually had to hire outside people to do it,” says Strain. “Now we just generate our own lists from Microsoft CRM in seconds, according to whatever parameters we set. If we want a list of all women brand managers working in the beauty industry, it’s easy”.

Support and Training

Strain says the system, which was implemented in September 2007, requires minimal IT support and training.  “We needed a little more support in the beginning for the teething problems, but since then have hardly had to call on Liquid Thought.” she says.  In fact most of the IT support required is around Media 24’s IT infrastructure and not CRM specific.  Training is also minimal with approximately only 1-2 hours required per user.  “If you can use Outlook or any Microsoft programme, you can use Microsoft CRM,” says Strain.

About Liquid Thought

Liquid Thought delivers world class Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementations to South African companies.  They have a proven track record using their ‘Liquid CRM’ implementation methodology at leading companies including KPMG, Pfizer, Metropolitan, Stanlib, Konica-Minolta, Old Mutual (Celestis Broker Services/Masthead) and Engen.  In addition to CRM implementation and customization, Liquid Thought has particular expertise in collaborative web and mobile technologies that help companies optimize their use of business information and accelerate their delivery capacity.  As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, and awarded as Microsoft Business Solutions Partner of the Year for 2007, Liquid Thought has the knowledge and insight to help you release value from your investment in Microsoft technologies.


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