AKRON—Consider this long-practiced ritual: When a tire manufacturer's representative meets a tire dealer, the rep usually produces a business card with phone and fax numbers and, perhaps, an e-mail address.
Goodyear's commercial tire sales personnel now are giving out a "cyber calling card" that contains a lot more. It's really a CD-ROM disc about the size of a business card.
This disc contains the same information found in about 25 different Goodyear publications—including product brochures for all lines of truck tires, engineering data, service and repair information and other details, said Al Cohn, Goodyear's marketing manager of commercial systems engineering.
"We felt this was a great way to give all the information to the end users that buy our products, in one little card," he said.
The card, which can be read on any IBM-compatible computer with a Pentium chip, allows the user to easily search for tires by size, model and use, or search for any other topic by word.
"Everything you wanted to know about truck tires is included on this little CD-ROM," Mr. Cohn said.
Goodyear has ordered about 250,000 of these business cards for distribution to commercial tire dealers, distributors and fleet operators.
Manufacturers of truck engines and other parts already distribute their service manuals on CD-ROM, Mr. Cohn said, but he claimed that Goodyear is the first tire company to use this technology as a marketing and informational tool.
Goodyear spends several million dollars a year printing product brochures, he said, but development and production of these calling cards will cost the Akron-based company less than half as much. Also, dealers like the cards because they don't take up the space a shelf full of product literature does, he said, and information about a specific tire or topic can be found much more quickly.
The cards also can be personalized with information tailored to a specific dealer.
Goodyear said the cards are available in a Truckwise version highlighting the company's commercial tire and retread catalog, and a version for G110 dealers that includes only a new tire catalog.
Mr. Cohn got the idea after receiving a mini-CD in the mail that was a demo for a computer game. "The whole key is to get a lot of information in a very small space," he said. "That's what caught my interest."
The initial reaction to the mini-discs has been very positive, he added, and Goodyear may decide to order after some fleets requested multiple copies to give to their drivers.
An updated version of the disc will be released about once a year, Mr. Cohn said, and future editions are likely to contain more video and animated information as the technology improves. He believes the conventional business card will disappear in a few years when more companies see the appeal of this use of new technology.
Goodyear wanted to be able to offer "something that was not just a bunch of tire pictures, but really an interactive encyclopedia of knowledge," he said.