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         Matrix – Schering Software Expo – Success Story

Schering Plough, a large pharmaceutical company located in NJ has an IT department within its Research Institute. They are responsible for purchasing software systems and modifying them to the Institute’s needs or developing custom written software to handle many of the stages of a drug trial. As a Matrix consultant at the Research Institute I was part of a newly formed small inhouse marketing team who created communications targeted to enhancing relations between software developers and the user community. 
Users of this division’s software systems were very reluctant to switch to new systems. The pressing question that our content had to address was: How do you get users excited about switching over to new computer systems? We developed a 3 point strategy of providing information, education, and electronic handholding! 

Our first project as a team was to develop a way to provide the users with information about all the systems (both currently in use and soon to be rolled out) that they would be using and convince them of each system’s benefits. We came up with the idea of a “software expo” with a new twist: Make it fun! We would have booths staffed with current users of systems, benefit oriented information about those systems as handouts, a special section called “a peek at what’s to come” featuring the IT department showcasing pending upgrades and new systems to be implemented. There would also be take away goodies in the booths, prizes, and beer! At first the division chairman was not sold on the idea, as it was totally unlike anything they had done internally. However, he was in agreement that it would be a “user friendly” way in which to showcase software and hopefully be an end run around the headaches he foresaw new installations were going to cause.

I was responsible for the content design and copywriting for most of the promotional materials. I developed a booklet that would introduce the attendees to the expo and the systems they could explore. There was a flyer that would be put up in all of the buildings weeks before to create “buzz”. I rewrote some already existing literature making the copy less technical, and included 2 “software brochures” that I wrote describing two of the new systems.

The turnout was more than we expected. The novelty of the whole event drew people who normally wouldn’t take time out of their busy schedules to attend. Everyone raved about the easy to understand information, got excited over playing the games to win prizes, and of course, being able to have a beer during the workday! 

We knew we would have more work to do when the new systems were rolled out, but from the positive comments received by the division chairman, we were certain we had done a bang up job of introducing these users to the benefits of the new systems and convincing them that they would be easy to learn and use.