IDT Corp. Tests Telemarketing for Caller-Pays Pager

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IDT Corp. this month launched a telemarketing campaign in three markets to promote its Freeway pager, a paging device that bills the caller rather than the person being paged.

"We're in the testing stage right now, but so far it's going well," said Dave Trop, vice president at IDT Wireless, a division of IDT Corp. "We hope to cover the whole country as time goes on."

Callers pay 35 cents for each call and the fee is announced to the caller before the page is sent.

IDT, Newark, NJ, also offers long-distance telephone service, Internet access and prepaid calling cards.

Through an outbound calling effort in Cleveland, Baltimore and Indianapolis, IDT is targeting families with at least two children and a minimum annual income of $35,000. The company hopes to appeal to parents' safety concerns by offering a product that allows them to get in touch with their children.

It is combining the Freeway pager with its Internet access product and long-distance telephone service.

"In the telemarketing, we'll try different approaches, but the pager is the focal point," Trop said.

The telemarketing effort began July 10 as a 30-day test.

In New York, IDT is experimenting with a hybrid marketing effort involving direct response radio ads, in-store promotional materials and outdoor media. The product is available in various stores throughout the New York area. It is also available nationally through retailers Fry Electronics, Nationwide Electronics and Best Buy.

Unlike the telemarketing effort, which is designed to reach parents, the radio effort in New York is targeting teen-agers.

"The target is high-school-age children more than anything else," said John Ward, chief marketing officer at IDT. "We're trying to get folks who need to communicate not only with parents, but with friends and appointments. They're not at the stage where they have credit cards, and they don't want to deal with the hassles of having to pay bills or anything yet."

The radio ads include a toll-free number that consumers can call to locate a store that sells the product, obtain more information or order the pager directly from the company. Ward said about 5 percent of the product's sales are coming through direct channels.

The company also promotes its Web site,, which contains product information but does not yet offer direct sales of the product.

Ward said the company is focusing its marketing efforts primarily at the retail level but plans to incorporate some direct marketing as it expands the campaign.

"Direct marketing will be a component, but having it in the stores where people can see it will be important," he said.

He said that, depending on the outcome of the telemarketing effort in the three test cities, IDT might do some telemarketing in the New York market.

The company is also preparing to launch prepaid and caller-pays cellular phones.

"Depending on what the results are from the advertising and the telemarketing, we'll look at what we want to do next," Ward said. "Once we have paging and cellular out in full swing in terms of distribution, we'll look at adding various legs to the campaign including other direct stuff. The first piece is being able to get it into the stores."

The company is using an outsourced telemarketing provider to conduct the current telemarketing campaign for the pager, but IDT does have a call center of its own in Hackensack, NJ, that it has used to conduct business-to-business telemarketing to promote its Internet access service.

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