Companies Debut Products, Announce Partnerships

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SAN FRANCISCO--A variety of companies unveiled new products, services and partnerships at last week's fall show. The following are highlights.


Partnerships: Many database marketing companies announced partnerships with software companies. For example, to meet the direct marketing needs of the energy industry, Paragren Technologies, Reston, VA, announced a partnership with Lodestar Corp., a software company aimed at the electric and gas utility industries.


The alliance will incorporate Paragren's One-By-One suite of marketing applications with Lodestar's billing and customer care solution. One-By-One includes data discovery for data mining and analysis; campaign manager for customer acquisition and retention programs; and interactive marketer for real-time marketing execution.


According to Paragren, the relationship will offer a seamless solution allowing utility marketers to gain a better understanding of their customers through analysis as well as allow them to use that information to evaluate advanced billing, customer care and pricing options. In addition, energy marketers will be able to implement various marketing campaign initiatives to fine-tune their efforts.


Centrobe, Louisville, CO, an EDS company, announced an agreement with Chordiant Software Inc. that lets Centrobe's large consumer-based customers unite their front-office and back-office functions. Centrobe will use Chordiant's Communication Solutions software to link marketing strategy activities with customer-facing functions such as account requests, purchase and relationship management. The solution also will integrate multimedia customer contact through call centers, including the Internet, fax, e-mail and kiosks.


Technicolor, Camarillo, CA, and Nimbus CD International, Charlottesville, VA, used the conference to publicize the expanded capabilities that have resulted from their merger this summer and to step up their efforts to market their capabilities as direct marketing tools. Technicolor is the world's largest video duplicator, with capacity to produce 1.5 million videocassettes daily. Through its merger with Nimbus, it has expanded its CD replication and DVD replication services. The merged company has created a division aimed at marketing videos, CDs and DVDs as direct marketing tools.


Using a newly formed sales force spread throughout the country, the company will offer turnkey production through distribution services for companies and agencies interested in using videos, CDs and DVDs as part of a mail campaign. The company can offer strategic and creative advice on what approaches have worked best in particular situations and can provide replication, cassette label or disc printing and packaging.


Utility tools: For DMers not necessarily looking for integrated solutions, several companies highlighted new campaign managers and data mining tools at the show. Advanced Software Applications Corp., Pittsburgh, debuted DecisionWorks 7.0, its upgraded data mining software suite.


The new version includes upgrades to DecisionWorks' ModelMax predictive modeling solution and dbProfile, its customer profiling and clustering application. It also gives users access to all of their earlier projects and lets them initiate new products by clicking a button. According to ASA, the interface allows users to walk step by step through the predictive modeling and customer clustering processes.


Tactician Corp., Andover, MA introduced TargeterExpress, a campaign manager designed for advertising, marketing and merchandising managers to identify, develop and execute marketing opportunities, strategies and programs. Users select from a list of built-in marketing programs and industry-based business rules and use campaign wizards to guide a user through the steps required to undertake a campaign. TargeterExpress also includes updated household counts for ZIP code and sub-ZIP code areas and updated demographic data, including more than 230 nationwide demographic variables.


Sky Alland Marketing, Columbia, MD, was promoting its recently formed data mining unit. The company specializes in strengthening the relationships between its clients and their customers by asking customers questions about the service they received from a particular client and how service or products could be improved. The questions are posed of clients' customers most often over the telephone but also through the Internet or other mediums identified by the customer.


Clients who request the company's new data mining services will have the results of Sky Alland's conversations with their customers merged into their own databases of customer purchasing information in a way so the information can be easily queried in several different forms. In addition, Sky Alland will give clients' customers a score to make the data easier to analyze.


"We're not competing with someone like Acxiom, we're just providing an enhanced value to their existing database," said Richard Hebert, Sky Alland's president/CEO.


Meanwhile, The Polk Co., Southfield, MI, used one of the show's more creative marketing promotions to introduce its newest database, the Response Selector. Response Selector differs from the company's Lifestyle Selector in that it's based on past purchasing behavior rather than self-reported lifestyle information. Response Selector, made up of buyer and subscriber lists from catalogs and magazines, includes 45 million names, more than 26 million of which can be targeted based on catalog-buying activity. There are 43 product category selections.


To introduce the list, the company created a campaign called "There's No Such Thing as the Average Joe," which included direct mail to conference attendees and pins and a contest at the show. For the contest, attendees were given some past purchasing behavior, such as that Joe used to order from catalogs in college and that he ordered sweatshirts to help him through Midwestern winters. Attendees then were given a list of 14 Joes, including Joe Piscopo and GI Joe, to guess which Joe it was. Selected winners were able to get autographs from the famous Joe, who turned out to be Joe Montana, at a party.


Online lists: Many companies also exhibited new services that let their customers receive their lists online. Dun & Bradstreet, Murray Hill, NJ, a provider of business-to-business marketing, credit and purchasing information, debuted U.S. Marketing Lists on the Internet, a browser-based service that helps firms identify prospects and market opportunities form D&B's database of 11 million U.S. businesses.


Beginning Oct. 26, market researchers, direct marketers and sales professionals will be able to download the service from D&B's Web site and access their lists in real time. U.S. Marketing Lists provides searches for customers through Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Netscape Communicator, and searches can be stored on the user's hard drive for future use.


Claritas, Arlington, VA, a consumer and business data provider, introduced Claritas Connect, a new online service that offers more than 100 reports from its databases for real-time marketing, decision support and geographic analysis. Users can choose information from a variety of Claritas data sets, including demographic profiles and trends, lifestyle segmentation, business locations and profiles, consumer expenditures and traffic counts.


Other products: The Lacek Group, Minneapolis, a division of Centrobe, introduced Reward Plus, an open-system version of its Reward loyalty program management software. Reward Plus is a client/server-based program designed to track customer activity based on client-defined program parameters. According to the company, customer service representatives using Reward Plus can locate members and verify member enrollment, check account balances or specific accrual activity, create statements online and print them on demand, determine redemption option and send timely, personalized customer communications.


The immediate availability of DecisionAgent, a new campaign-planning application delivered free with all custom modeling engagements, was announced by KnowledgeBase Marketing, Chapel Hill, NC. The software combines predictive model scores, marketing costs and financial estimates that give marketers the opportunity to make financially "rational" marketing decisions. According to Jon Roberson, senior vice president of marketing and sales at KnowledgeBase, DecisionAgent is designed to answer the question, "Given my marketing goals, who are my best targets?"


I.C. System, St. Paul, Minnesota, announced the availability of SmartMarket, which performs ad-hoc analysis and detailed statistical geographical analysis. Features such as ListMaker let users customize segmentation, while USPS quality management and address systems like NCOA, CASS and FastForward, along with other suppression features and list rentals, let them constantly fine-tune their campaigns.


Staff Writers Michael Bush and Renée Wijnen contributed to this report.
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