DBA Houston: Wingo Equipment-Uses Multimedia to Sell

Houston, TX - April 1995 - Multimedia, a red-hot buzzword in computerdom today, gives viewers a visual and aural adrenaline rush like no overhead transparencies or 35mm slides can. Compared to multimedia's communication appeal, standard audiovisuals seem like an idle Edsel next to a roaring Ferrari.

By using multimedia early and in the right applications, small companies can gain a competitive edge and operate more efficiently. Multimedia has the raw power to truly level the playing field. It can dramatically boost a company's persuasive punch in sales, marketing, advertising and public relations, and grab customers f-a-s-t!

Identified as a combination of personal-computer hardware and software, multimedia has one purpose: to magnificently describe, explain, illustrate or sell ideas, information, plans, products/services, concepts and proposals. With such powerful capabilities available, traditional audiovisuals and print media (such as catalogs, price lists, technical manuals) will soon be regulated to the Jurassic era of communication.

Multimedia is effective because it has the unprecedented ability to appeal to both our emotional, conceptual, imaginative right brain and logical, systematic, analytical left brain. It can manipulate the integrate text, pictures, graphics, three-dimensional animation, speech synthesis, music and other CD-quality sound in ways that make a strong and lasting impact. Simply put, multimedia is "Hollywood in a box."

Instead of a dull numbers-and-text-filled overhead or slide presentation, multimedia allows you to orchestrate numbers, text and charts to appear, dissolve, grow or explode (with accompanying sound) as you desire. Or, imagine still pictures of products, places, people or situations with full-motion video and crystal-clear sound added to capture dramatic moments, illustrate some operation or demonstrate your product in action. You can apply a myriad of "oh-my-gosh" special effects to slam your points deep into the hearts and minds of your audience. And you can do all this even from a laptop computer hooked up to a 10-pound LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) projector that can project up to a 15 foot (diagonal) image onto a screen in a meeting room. It's not merely a form of "Tell-a-vision," but "Sell-a-vision."

Multimedia goes way beyond being a consummate presentation tool. You can use it in a rich variety of ways to create stunning training modules, electronic catalogs, kiosks, trade show media and countless other educational and persuasive communication forums – economically.

Looking for a more innovative way to present technical data to customers than the traditional printed catalog, Bill Wingo was bitten by the multimedia bug last year. "The idea of an electronic catalog had many appealing features," explains the president of Houston-based Wingo Equipment Sales. "Information would be easy to update and change; we could add animation and sound and even have the computer perform calculations." A major concern, however, was the reality of jumping on the multimedia wagon for the $11,000 he had budgeted for a printed catalog.

He found a kindred spirit at epic software group in The Woodlands. President Vic Cherubini and Wingo worked together to come up with creative ways to break the $15,000 barrier – about a third of the typical cost to produce an electronic catalog. By converting software tools and techniques used in larger clients' projects, Cherubini eliminated some development costs. And by getting much of the catalog's sales and technical information from vendors on computer disks, the normal conversion costs were greatly reduced.

The story gets even better. In explaining his request for computer files to the manufacturers (Siemens, Magnetrol, Westronics), Wingo was pleasantly surprised by their reaction to the electronic catalog. "Several offered to help me subsidize the cost since it also put their products in a good light," he says.

epic is now putting the finishing touches on "W.I.S.E. Cat" (Wingo Interactive Service & Equipment Catalog). The program will be distributed on floppy disk as a direct mail piece and as a "leave behind" after sales calls. "Eventually it will find its way onto the Internet," Cherubini predicts.

If you're thinking about multimedia, here's how to get started:

  • Read about it in books and ask to see multimedia program demonstrations at local computer stores or test drive some yourself (see sidebar).
  • Determine which applications are most needed and cost-effective for your company.
  • Start transitioning over multimedia b first becoming proficient with simpler "electronic slide shows" in your presentations. Software programs such as Microsoft PowerPoint™, and Lotus's Harvard Graphics™ have basic elements of multimedia, but can be created by those who are computer-as opposed to multimedia-literature.
  • Contact multimedia developers to help you identify opportunities where multimedia can produce a good return on investment.
  • According to industry forecasts, 39 million multimedia software packages will be shipped in the United States this year. The wave is building; surf's up. Start riding it!


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