Anthrax Fears Boost Inquiries for E-Mail Firm

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Interactive marketing services provider TMX Interactive is reporting a 70 percent boost in inquiries from companies looking for electronic alternatives to direct mail as a result of anthrax fears.

TMX, Conshohocken, PA, re-purposes direct mail collateral for e-mail distribution. Its services include broadcasting the material to house files or rented lists for $30 to $70 per thousand above the cost of list rental. The company also offers a software product that lets sales representatives send prospects and clients literature one at a time.

"We're getting calls from people who are stuck with packaging that's not kosher now because it's not see-through," said Blair Lyon, president/CEO at TMX.

A number of common response drivers have been deemed unadvisable as a result of anthrax fears, blank envelopes that look like First-Class mailings among them. TMX claims a turnaround time of one week.

Though the company's clients include big-name brands like BMG, Lexus, Acura and PepsiCo, calls have been coming in from many small to medium-sized businesses, especially from firms in the nearby Philadelphia area, Lyon said.

"This is a totally different customer," he said. "These aren't the Schwab-sized, 2 million e-mail accounts."

However, the nature of some smaller firms' prospecting universes presents unique challenges in e-mail marketing. Some have to start from square one and build their own lists, Lyon said.

"If you're looking for a very tight list of HR directors in a certain ZIP code, they simply aren't available," he said.

However, small companies jumping into the game could bode well for e-mail marketing overall.

"We're in a horrible situation, but in terms of getting companies that were maybe sitting on the fence, this may have kicked them in the butt a little," Lyon said, adding that he is getting calls from people to whom TMX gave presentations a year ago.

"They're saying, 'We're in a bind, and we have to get something out,' " he said.

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