Zoot Works With Merkle for Predictive Modeling

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Zoot Enterprises Inc., a provider of process automation and automated credit approval decisions, is collaborating with Merkle Direct Marketing, Lanham, MD.

The agency will provide the Bozeman, MT, firm with advanced predictive models designed to help financial services companies reduce their credit risk by scoring customers based on their credit history. There was no account review.

"Merkle and Zoot are helping financial services companies bridge the gap between the prescreen and post-screen process," said Dave Kelly, vice president of Merkle's data solutions division. "We're also enabling them to fully utilize their credit data for the purpose of conducting quantitative direct marketing programs."

Zoot (www.zootweb.com) is not unknown to Merkle. Zoot has worked with Sigma Analytics, which Merkle acquired last year. Merkle and Zoot now will cross-sell their complementary services to each company's clients and prospects. The collaboration aims to benefit customers in banking and finance. These industries acquire and evaluate credit reports and other information related to consumer and business lending.

This is an ongoing relationship with no preset term.

"Currently, Zoot and Merkle have several common clients that are using the mutual offerings of the two companies," Kelly said. "The goal of the relationship will be to offer Zoot's online score delivery platform to Merkle's client base, and to offer Merkle's offline direct marketing services to Zoot's client base."

Meanwhile, The Arthritis Foundation extended its relationship with Merkle (www.merklenet.com). The Atlanta charity (www.arthritis.org) asked Merkle to manage and execute a direct marketing pilot across several states to improve participation in the 2005 Arthritis Walk.

This series of walks is designed to boost funding and awareness of arthritis, which afflicts 70 million Americans. Local chapters organize these noncompetitive walks in May, which is National Arthritis Month. Volunteers register ahead of time with a donation to the arthritis charity.

As part of its mandate, Merkle will handle strategic development, creative design, campaign and database management and direct mail execution. Media planned include direct mail, voice messages and e-mail.

The audience for such outreach includes previous Arthritis Walk team captains, participants and donors. Marketing also aims to generate new participants. The pilot starts in seven states before expanding to others covering the 150 foundation chapters nationwide.

Merkle started working with the 57-year-old foundation in 2003 for services such as strategic marketing, database management, creative design and analytic support for its national donor acquisition campaigns. The agency won more foundation work last year, offering incoming lockbox and response processing, document imaging, data entry and credit card processing.

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