Quicken 2002 Launch Program
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Quicken 2002 Launch Program

Intuit has been releasing new and improved versions of Quicken every year since 1984. However, over the last few years, there have been increased threats to Quicken’s dominant market share. Due to this threat, MS&L and Intuit revised the media strategy

Paul Holmes

Intuit has been releasing new and improved versions of Quicken every year since 1984.  However, over the last few years, there have been increased threats to Quicken’s dominant market share.  Due to this threat, MS&L and Intuit revised the media strategy for Quicken 2002 to target a more financially savvy consumer in a higher-income bracket.  Through extensive research, MS&L learned that Quicken users turn to more top tier publications for their financial and investing information. 

 

With this knowledge, MS&L scheduled media briefings with thirty-seven top-tier outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, and BusinessWeek, instead of looking towards the traditional die-hard Quicken reviewers at regional newspapers and smaller publications. In the four months since Quicken’s launch, there have been 86 reviews of Quicken 2002, an increase of 34% from Quicken 2001. Of those reviews, 76 are positive and communicate Quicken’s primary message: that the software offers a comprehensive personal finance solution.  The majority of the other reviews are draws between Quicken and Microsoft Money.

 

Challenge

 

Quicken’s primary competitor, Microsoft Money, has been steadily encroaching on Quicken’s command of the market.  When Quicken 2000 was released in August 1999, a majority of the media covering the two products indicated that, for the first time, Money’s capabilities were on par with Quicken’s.  Additionally, the majority of media reported that Quicken has offered few groundbreaking new features since Quicken 1999, and that the few improvements were incremental.

 

The competition with Microsoft and the media’s overall attitude toward Quicken led us to revise our strategy for the Quicken 2002 launch.  Intuit and MS&L embarked on a new strategy to target more top tier reporters at high-level publications to schedule media and analyst briefings with, and to communicate our key messages.

 

Additionally, MS&L was charged with securing more Quicken Home & Business coverage this year.  Traditionally, the primary focus of the Quicken launch is Quicken Deluxe, the mass-market version of Quicken—while its niche-market offerings, Quicken Home & Business and Quicken Suite, were often mentioned secondarily by the media.

 

Research

 

Research: After the Quicken 2000 and Quicken 2001 reviews were tallied, we found that a vast majority of the reviews were draws between Quicken and Money, while few reviewers chose one product as a clear winner.  With two years of media opinion recorded, Intuit and MS&L analyzed each review to determine which product was favored in seven key feature categories.

 

In addition, to ensure that a greater number of tier one reporters reviewed Quicken this year regardless of the continued absence of groundbreaking new features in Quicken 2002, MS&L conducted in-depth research with MediaVest to identify the specific publications that carried the most weight with Quicken’s target audience.  MediaVest took characteristics of individuals who track investments on the Internet, trade stocks, bonds, etc. on the Internet, and/or use personal finance software at home, and then cross-referenced those characteristics with the gamut of print and national broadcast media to create a targeted list, which was cross-referenced with our existing Quicken lists.

 

Planning: With the trend of Money consistently beating Quicken in the areas of ease of use (which is a key factor in swaying new users toward purchasing a product) and budgeting/financial planning, MS&L crafted key messages for Quicken 2002 that highlighted Quicken’s new and improved offerings in those categories.

 

As a result of our work with MediaVest, we eliminated some publications from our media list that we had traditionally contacted, including several consumer publications and small market/suburban daily newspapers.  Quicken users turn to more top tier publications for their financial and investing information.  Some publications, such as Time and The Economist, did not make the final list due to repeated lack of coverage and responsiveness to our outreach, as well as a relative lack of relevance among our new target audience.

 

In addition, to increase our chances of garnering Quicken coverage in elusive tier one business publications such as Fortune and Forbes, MS&L focused on the strategy behind booking media tour briefings with these outlets and tailored a highly-targeted pitch.  A particularly well received aspect of both the pitch and the media tour meetings was our research demonstrating that the demographics of the top tier business publication readers matched the demographics of the Quicken user.

 

Objectives: Once the research was completed and the audience was determined, Intuit and MS&L jointly devised the following objectives for the launch of Quicken 2002, using Quicken’s annual multi-city media tour as the primary means to meet these objectives:

  • Schedule at least 25-28 meetings with a greater number of Quicken user-targeted tier one reviewers from general business, news wires, top market daily newspapers, online and technology publications, and industry analysts than on previous media tours
  • Generate positive reviews of Quicken 2002 and communicate that Quicken offers a comprehensive personal finance solution
  • Seed Quicken’s brand leadership message within the reviews and convey that Quicken has made improvements in the ease of set up/use category
  • Increase coverage specifically for Quicken Home & Business
  • Increase Quicken’s sales and market share

 

Strategy

 

For years, Quicken was the only viable option in personal finance software.  After unsuccessfully trying to buy Intuit in the early 1990s, Microsoft introduced its own personal finance software, Microsoft Money.  For its first few years of availability, Money was maligned by the media and was unanimously seen as inferior to Quicken.  However, since the 1999 release of Quicken 2000 and Money 2000, reviewers began praising Money for finally catching up with Quicken, particularly in the areas of ease of use and budgeting/financial planning. 

 

The key journalists who annually review personal finance software have changed little over the past several years.  This particular category of software is distinguished by a very passionate following of reviewers, mirroring Intuit’s research on its very loyal and opinionated users.  As such, Quicken’s annual media tour is made up of the same “die hard” reviewers every year, with a handful of new publications and reporters. 

 

However, in an attempt to meet with more top tier reporters, MS&L did an in-depth analysis of the needs of these new reporters and provided a tailored approach for each of them.  Armed with the knowledge that we needed to address previous Quicken disadvantages head-on in our pitching, we devised a procedure document outlining these steps. Even though MS&L booked over 50 desk side meetings in six cities last year, the number of scheduled interviews was not of utmost importance this year because the focus was shifted to the quality of the reporter/publication, rather than the quantity of scheduled meetings.

 

Execution/Tactics

 

Prior to scheduling the media tour, MS&L developed a comprehensive timeline of activities along with a pitch procedure document outlining for the pitch team Quicken’s key messages, new features, new target audience, the pitch, and tour dates.

 

What/When/Where: Intuit/MS&L embarked on a two-week, five-city (NYC, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area) media tour during July to promote the latest version of Quicken software.  Additional one-off meetings were held with key reporters in S. California and Portland, OR.  Additionally, on August 22, the date of the Quicken launch, the 150 reporters who Quicken was unable to meet with received Quicken 2002 product and information for review.

 

The Pitch: Below are the three primary Quicken 2002 key messages with corresponding features selected to be of greatest interest to key media.  To best target each outlet, the pitch team chose from these features to tailor their pitch to the specific reporter or publication.  Key messages and associated features included:

  • Quicken 2002 makes it easier to set-up and track your personal financial data (saves time).  Corresponds with “My Finances,” which has a new Setup view to help new users easily setup their Quicken data file so they can put Quicken to work faster.
  • Quicken 2002 investment tools give you the power and insight to assess your portfolio’s performance and make better investment decisions (confidence in investing decisions).  Corresponds with “Portfolio View” feature - the New Tax Implications view lets you see your after-tax gains and the tax impact of waiting until your holdings are longer term.
  • Quicken 2002 tax planning tools make it easier to forecast your year-round tax situation to evaluate tax implications and minimize your taxes (wasted money).  Corresponds with “Capital Gains Estimator” which newly supports loss carryovers from prior years and estimates tax impact of sales of stock from Employee Stock Purchase Plans; also supports new capital gains tax laws for super-long-term holdings.
  • Quicken Home & Business: Since many of the reporters who cover Quicken Deluxe are also the most appropriate people to cover Quicken Home & Business, we pitched them the option of having a portion of their briefing dedicated to a discussion of Quicken Home & Business.  To the client’s delight, most reporters jumped at the opportunity.  For those who didn’t want to discuss Quicken Home & Business we selectively targeted the small business reporter at the same publication for a meeting focusing solely on Quicken Home & Business.   

 

Evaluation of Success

 

The program was extremely successful, generating a great deal of coverage in top tier publications immediately following the August 22, 2001 launch date.  MS&L met or exceeded every objective set forth at the beginning of the Quicken 2002 launch program. 

Measurable Objective

Result

Meetings

Thirty-seven meetings were scheduled and held with top tier media outlets and analysts including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today (2), The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Associated Press, Dow Jones, Forbes (2), Fortune, PC Magazine, and select analysts.

Positive Reviews

Between the launch of Quicken (8/22/01) and the end of 2001, there were 86 reviews of Quicken 2002 (an increase of 34% from 2001).  Of those reviews, 77 are positive and also position Quicken as a comprehensive personal finance solution, and the majority of the others are draws between Quicken and Money.  To date, reviews have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, USA Today, Fortune, Associated Press, CNet, PC Magazine, and ON Magazine, among others.

Brand Leadership and Ease of Use Messages

Fifty-five of eighty-six reviews (63%) mention Quicken’s brand leadership.

Fifty-five of eighty-six reviews (63%) convey that Quicken has made improvements in the ease of set up/use category.

Coverage for Quicken Home & Business

Last year there were no reviews of Quicken Home & Business.  To date, Quicken 2002 Home & Business has garnered four, all of which are positive.

Unit Sales

There was a 34.3% growth in unit sales during the week of August 19, 2001 when compared to the previous year; unit sales increased 38.3% from the previous week. 

Dollar Sales

During the week of August 19, 2001, dollar sales for Quicken showed a 35% growth over the previous year; dollar sales increased by 51.6% from the previous week.

Unit Share

During the week of August 26, 2001, Quicken’s unit share was 80.5%, up 61.1% from the week prior.  Microsoft Money’s unit share was 19.5% during that same week, down from 38.9% from the previous week.

Dollar Share

Quicken’s dollar share for the week of August 26, 2001 was 83%, up from 69.1% from the previous week.  Microsoft Money’s dollar share for the week was 17%, down from 30.9% from the previous week.

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