Hi-Tech Agency Stays 100% Web-Based

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DigitalWork.com, Chicago, a company that positions itself as the first do-it-yourself marketing services agency, has decided to forgo a bricks-and-mortar presence to pursue a business-to-business marketing services niche completely via the Web.

Rob Schultz, co-founder/CEO, said he is helping his customers realize how easy and efficiently they can do their own marketing if given adequate access to the science and tools of the direct marketing trade. Something the Internet has now made possible.

But marketing your hi-tech marketing services agency means keeping the focus on the customer's promotion rather than on the fascinating novelty of the sophiscated Web-based service you are offering.

"Small business owners go through many steps in developing a direct mail piece when using standard brick-and-mortar professional agencies," said Schultz. "But we've pulled together all the critical functions of launching a direct mail piece in one easy-to-use online solution."

Schultz said his new agency, begun in March 1998, is aiming its services at about 10 million small businesses in the United States, and he said already it has a line-up of important strategic partnerships with big names like AT&T, BellSouth, Citibank and IBM.

And to help professionals at smaller businesses understand how DigitalWork.com works, the company offers online workshops in media buying, direct mail, copywriting and more. The online classes are touted as simple and immediate with compelling online language to draw in business prospects. For instance, the company's opening Web page immediately makes references to saving time and money while communicating user value: "Just as ATM machines revolutionized the way we bank with do-it-yourself banking, DigitalWork.com is revolutionizing the way small and growing businesses get work done. DigitalWork.com helps entrepreneurs complete tasks in core functional areas from marketing to human resources to financial services and others in record time and without the high costs associated with traditional, individual agencies."

Randy Grudzinsky, vice president of marketing at DigitalWork.com, said the whole premise of the company is to change the way the marketing business works. "It's typically been the case that small businesses lack the resources to complete business tasks that are critical to their industry. We provide them with a one-stop environment for direct marketing, public relations and advertising. We've even developed a service along with BusinessWire, [the online business] news service to help marketers learn how to incorporate effective public relations [into campaigns] by selecting the media they want right from their desktops. We created the same model for direct mail marketing by allowing clients to interface with our partners as they develop a piece quickly, stamp it and send it out in about a half hour."

Sound too easy?

Grudzinsky said everyone at DigitalWork.com constantly refers to what he calls the "Home Depot example." He said not every homeowner can afford a custom designer, but they'll go to a Home Depot and let an "expert in an orange apron help them understand how to lay tile in a bathroom for the first time."

"We categorize our services the same way, in terms of workshops. With our approach, you're actually writing your own press release; you're designing your own direct mail all online. And we have online professionals that can walk you through the process [and answer questions]."

Grudzinksy said similar online services such as Smart Online, Office.com and Citibank's biz.com present some competition in the new online marketing services arena. But, he said, DigitalWork.com has organized its operating model in such a way that it can be plugged into small business portals were it can create and provide third-party, affinity and other sub-contracted services.

"We're finding that a lot of our competitors are actually would-be partners" he said.

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